A lot of the work, maybe even most of the work, is done long before the fans show up to the stadium.
During the game, Rachel Moudy walks around the ballpark, just making sure everything that had been planned is running smoothly.
This is her first job related to her long-term career goal, and all it has done is convince her that she picked the right field.
“I’ve always wanted to be in business management, and to be able to incorporate that with sports makes it even better,” Moudy said.
“I’m not sitting in an office.”
Moudy, a 2015 La Center High School graduate and student at the University of Nebraska Omaha, is working as an assistant to the general manager of the Cowlitz Black Bears. The baseball team, based in Longview, is part of the West Coast League for college-eligible athletes. It is a college summer league but the home games have the feel of minor league baseball, packed with contests between innings, special sections for sponsors, a mascot, and giveaway promotions.
“A lot of people don’t think of all the little details going on at the park,” Moudy said.
She and her co-workers do consider all the factors. There is a script to follow for each home game. There might be a food toss after the second inning. Then a sack race after the third frame. Corby the Black Bear has to have time to mingle with the fans.
Her summer job is part of a bigger plan for Moudy, who earned 10 letters in three sports at La Center High School. Growing up an athlete, she knew she wanted to remain associated with sports even after her playing days were done. She is on schedule to earn a degree in business administration next spring, and she wants to get into sports management, either at Major League Baseball, for example, or at a shoe company.
“As a woman coming into sports (management) you definitely have to prove yourself,” Moudy said. “You have to prove you’re meant to be there. I’m here to do my work, and do my work well.”
She relies on her own sports background to help achieve her goal, noting she learned about discipline and time management as an athlete.
“You can’t sit back and expect things to happen,” Moudy said. “You have to put in the work to get the results you want to see.”
This past academic year, Moudy came up with another way to showcase her skills along with her love for baseball.
Students were asked to find something that needed to be changed or improved. After researching the subject, write a report to the company or organization detailing why such a change was necessary.
It did not have to be related to sports, but Moudy knew that her assignment would have a sports angle. Always fascinated by the amount of stress on the arm associated with pitching a baseball, Moudy ended up trying to convince college baseball to come up with a maximum pitch count for the athletes.
Part of her research included a survey that would “make or break” her grade, depending on how much feedback she would receive. Her request on social media got several retweets, and more than 200 pitchers and several other position players from across the country responded.
“I was just stunned,” she said. “This is going to be perfect. It just fell into place.”
Many pitchers noted they had been asked by coaches early in their careers to pitch when not healthy or without the needed rest. Others said they had pitched, even when they knew better, because they wanted to be out there for the team.
A strict pitch limit at all levels of amateur baseball, Moudy concluded in her report, would save coaches and players from themselves, extend careers, benefit the baseball programs, and reduce the liability for colleges and universities regarding overuse injuries. She received an A on the project.
Returning home to La Center for this summer, she found a perfect place to learn about the business of sports promotion.
A typical day for Moudy with the Black Bears includes answering phone calls from fans and sponsors. Then she helps with the script and sets up everyone’s role for a particular game night.
That sack race between innings? Who is coordinating that, making sure the fans who are in the contest are ready to go as soon as the innings ends? The timing has to be perfect. The baseball game cannot be delayed.
“I’ve always loved sports. But working this job, it’s not even about the sport itself. It’s the passion and the relationships you make,” Moudy said. “This has shown me how important it is to make direct connections with other people. Develop relationships with everyone who makes it all possible.”
That means all the people who help turn a sporting event into a special event. And that absolutely means interacting with fans. Moudy knows several of the team’s season ticket holders.
Moudy also has to be ready for the unexpected. The lights went out during one game earlier this season.
“It wasn’t a super scary thing, but … we had to make sure everyone got out safely,” she said.
One recent event was instrumental in Moudy’s career aspirations. The Black Bears played a game which was followed by a Cort Carpenter concert.
She helped stage the event, on the baseball field, after the game. It was a packed crowd and the pressure was on Moudy and her co-workers trying to set up as quickly as possible.
“It was so hectic and chaotic, and that’s the night I felt I could do this for a career,” Moudy said. “It’s stressful at times, but really rewarding. It was a crazy night, but it was so much fun.”