ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Last week, Minor League Baseball (MiLB) held its first annual FIELD (Fostering Inclusion through Education and Leadership Development) Program, a new project under the Minor League Baseball Diversity Initiative.
The event was held August 8-12, at the Minor League Baseball headquarters in St. Petersburg, Florida, and featured a select group of 25 diverse college students from across the country. The purpose of the event was to provide an opportunity for continued personal and professional growth. It allowed students to interact with baseball industry executives in a structured learning environment and inspired them to pursue careers in professional baseball. Travel, lodging and meals were provided by Minor League Baseball, and students paid a registration fee to attend.
"Breaking into the world of professional baseball can be challenging when you haven't had the opportunity to interact with our industry," said Minor League Baseball President & CEO Pat O'Conner. "We wanted to provide as much insight into our industry as possible in order to prepare these students to pursue a career in baseball."
The program included a variety of sessions, including guest speakers and workshops focused on career skills such as resume building, interviewing, networking and professional sales. Participants got hands-on experience at Minor League Baseball games by shadowing team employees as they completed their gameday tasks.
"This was the first time I've ever been to a baseball game and I'm excited to learn more and pursue a career in sports," said Alexyss Scott, a senior at Hampton University. "I came to the FIELD Program expecting to learn more about baseball and hear about career opportunities, but I didn't expect to personally grow as much as I did in such a short period of time."
Students also received an in-depth analysis of the business of baseball from Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball team executives and representatives, as well as the Minor League Baseball office staff. Presenters shared their own paths to success and explained why diversity in business is crucial.
Miami Marlins President of Baseball Operations, Michael Hill, served as the event's keynote speaker. His career in professional baseball includes stops with the Tampa Bay Rays and the Colorado Rockies before joining the Marlins as the Assistant General Manager in 2003. Hill, of Cuban/African-American descent, is the only person of color holding a president title with a Major League Baseball team.
"Diversity is important because it gives you a variety of everything," said Hill. "It allows people from different walks of life to share experiences, which I think creates a more complete sense of what our society truly is."
In addition to Hill and the Minor League Baseball office staff, the roster of speakers included:
- Tyrone Brooks, Senior Director of Major League Baseball's Front Office & Field Staff Diversity Pipeline Program
- Trevor Gooby, Pittsburgh Pirates Senior Director of Florida Operations
- Harold Craw, Jacksonville Suns General Manager
- Lara Juras, Atlanta Braves Vice President of Human Resources
- Kelvin Scott, Atlanta Braves Senior Manager of Human Resources
- Greg "Kool Papa" Bell, Stockton Ports Sponsorship and Ticket Sales Executive
- Amanda Koch, Clearwater Threshers Promotions and Community Relations Manager
- Bobby Mitchell, Clearwater Threshers Sales Manager
- Jessica Lack, Tampa Yankees Digital/Social Media & Community Relations Manager
- Kelsey McIntosh, Dunedin Blue Jays Manager of Sales and Promotions
As a continuation of the program, participants will attend the PBEO® Job Fair at the Baseball Winter Meetings in National Harbor, Maryland, in December.
For downloadable materials from the 2016 FIELD Program, including photos, videos and interviews, visit http://bit.ly/2aUFLgu.