Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small town in the south and was raised by a family who loved sports, and both have been a huge part of my life. After graduating from Fort Walton Beach High School in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, I decided to move up north to pursue a career in Sports Journalism, not knowing that God had different plans for me.
I wanted to be a sports broadcaster. After a year or two in the communications program at Wilmington University, Wilmington, Delaware, I decided to take Sports Media Relations as an elective course.
Who was your mentor?
It was that course that would change my career path. My professor was Chris Kemple, General Manager of the Wilmington Blue Rocks located in Wilmington, Delaware. He began the class by discussing with us both the aspects and details of his job. I fell in love with Sports Management right there and knew I was meant to work in the front office of a Minor League baseball team. Though it would be fun to work for a Major League club, I enjoy the one-on-one relationships with our fans, staff and being able to work directly with them. I switched my major the day after that class and it was the best decision I made in my college career. After my first class with Mr. Kemple, I expressed interest in an internship with his organization. Though I was a few years away from an internship, he was very encouraging for a possible opportunity. At the end of my junior year it was time for me to complete my internship requirements. I contacted Mr. Kemple and began my interview process. In December of 2005, I received the email that I would be brought on as the merchandising assistant for the 2006 season. I was ecstatic!
When did you start working for the Wilmington Blue Rocks?
I started working for the Wilmington Blue Rocks in January of 2006 and I have not looked back. After just a few months with the team, I expressed to the ownership that I wanted to work for the Blue Rocks in the future and that I was not going anywhere. Opportunities in the sports field are rare and you have to take every opportunity you can get. After the completion of my internship, which ended in September of 2006, I asked to speak with my general manager, Chris Kemple, about a possible full-time opportunity. I expressed to him that I know the Blue Rocks are a small front office but that I would be a good addition to the front office. He informed me that the only position that would be available would be the office manager position, which would begin in January. I took it.
To what do you attribute your success?
In Minor League baseball, it’s important to let your supervisors know you are willing to take on any task. On my first day, I informed every director that I would be willing to help on any project that needed assistance. Also, full-time members of the Blue Rocks front office are required to work night games. As the office manager, I was not. However, I asked to work as a member of the game staff in the souvenir store. I knew this would show that I took my job seriously and looked for a future with the organization.
How did you get into Group Sales?
At the end of the season, I heard of the possibility of a third full-time group sales manager being hired. I knew this was my opportunity. Upper management attended Baseball’s Winter Meetings and interviewed several candidates, one of which they offered the position. After accepting a position with another team, I knew I needed to ask to be considered for the position. I spoke to the director of tickets and expressed my desire to work in the ticket department. Though my only experience was in the merchandise department, I knew starting my professional baseball career in tickets would help me build strong sales experience. The first thing I learned in school was that the number one thing in sports management is ticket sales. Without ticket sales, you cannot sell anything else. So I knew I needed to strengthen my experience in sales and this was the perfect position in which I could gain this knowledge.
When did you begin your Group Sales job?
I began my first full-time position in baseball in the beginning of 2008 as a group sales manager. Five people worked in the ticket department, as three of us worked in-group sales. I learned quickly that this was going to be a wonderful position and I could not wait for all of the challenges and experiences that it would bring. I was very fortunate that I worked in a front office where I learned a lot. The Wilmington Blue Rocks have always been known as one of the best in the business and I wanted to learn and work for the best. My job consists of basically selling tickets. However, there is much more that it entails. I help to put together many themed group nights, on-field group activities as well as basic group outings. I have been very fortunate to work with and meet many amazing people through my position with the team.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
One of my favorite things about my job is that one day is not the same as the next day. There is always something exciting and different going on in the stadium. I work in an office with some amazing individuals. The Blue Rocks management staff is a true testament to working as a team and I feel lucky to be on the starting lineup. With as many games as we work during the season, it can be very long and draining, but we are all extremely supportive and encouraging to each other. I am now entering my third year in group sales and my fifth with the Wilmington Blue Rocks. I look forward to a long and exciting career in minor league baseball. I hope to one day become a director and eventually a general manager of my own team. Until then, I am just enjoying the ride.
I was going to attend the winter meeting, but I never did. I actually have a new title Group Sales Executive. I work with large groups over 20 people, with our picnic and café areas, on-field activities and special themed nights.
What is the most difficult part of your job?
Being the "girl" in a office full of boys. For my actual job I would say making cold calls. That is never fun.
What is your favorite or most memorable special themed night?
My favorite theme night so far is B+ Foundation night, though it hasn't happened yet. One of the best parts of my job is to be able to help good causes in their fight and this charity has become close and dear to my heart. My favorite one that has happened is the Blue Rocks Fan Fest Night. It was the first big project that I was in charge of with the Blue Rocks.
Met any celebrities?
I have met Cal Ripken Jr., Chad Durbin (Pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies and former Blue Rock) and several leaders for charitable organizations such as: JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) and the American Cancer Society.
Did you play any sport in school? Do you participate in any sports now? What do you do for relaxation after work?
I was on the dance team in school. I am always busy at work so I do not participate in sports now.
What advice would you give a young woman seeking a career in baseball?
Never Give Up! Live Your Dream! You Can Do It! Never Let Anyone Tell You Can't Do It Because You Are A Girl! Yes you can!
What woman do you most admire?
My aunt. She played professional softball.
If you could ask her one question now, what would it be?
I have asked her a bunch already but it would probably be how did you get over your fears of being a girl in a man’s sport?
What person in your life had the most influence on you?
My mom because she is the most kind and generous person I have ever met. She is not only my role model and my hero but my best friend. If I grow up to be half the woman she is I will consider myself extremely lucky.
Do you have a favorite quote?
Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game. (I had a sign made with it and it hangs in my office).
What did your High School students write about you in your yearbook?
That I would one day become a sports broadcaster.
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By Mike Valverde