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Catawba students, grads make it out to the ballpark for summer of baseball

SALISBURY — Catawba College sports management students and recent graduates have been placed in a number of baseball roles this summer, from Kannapolis to San Diego, and they are enjoying the experience.

Associate Sports Management Professor Duane Aagaard said a large number of Catawba students secure baseball internships and other area specialties like motorsports positions.

Aagaard said North Carolina is a hot spot to get baseball experience because of the number of Minor League franchises in the state. He said students interning with Minor League teams are part of the summer staff and they get to really be part of the team.

Henderson Lentz, class of 2021, has taken on a number of responsibilities as one of several Catawba interns for the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers.

Lentz has done everything from ticketing and sales to working on promotions and putting up Ks for strikeouts. He is one of a few Catawba folks who worked on the Salisbury Community Night game earlier this month.

“I love working in baseball because it has always been my favorite sport,” Lentz said. “So, having the opportunity to come to work at such a beautiful ballpark is a dream come true.”

Senior Aryn Dorr was originally tapped to intern with the Cannon Ballers in 2020, but the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dorr came back to work with the team a year later and said every day working at the stadium is a blast.

“Minor League Baseball involves a lot of hard work and dedication, but I am glad that I took on the challenge with the team,” Dorr said. “That is probably what I love most about it all.”

Heidi Mueller, a 2021 graduate, spent the summer with another nearby Minor League team, the Charlotte Knights. Her main job is to find people to be part of the promotions and games.

Her favorite thing about the experience is how upbeat everyone is from the employees to the fans, and it makes it easy to be there.

“There has never been a moment where I didn’t want to be there, and there’s never been a day that I didn’t look forward to going to work,” Mueller said. “When I’m not finding participants or getting them where they need to be, I get to sit and enjoy the game. So I really get the best of both worlds.”

Jhalisa Bell went straight to the big leagues with the San Diego Padres. The 2021 graduate was back in her hometown and the Padres remain her favorite team.

She works with the guest services crew at the Padres’ Petco Park and has spent her days doing anything from scanning tickets to managing seating.

“I do a bit of everything to enhance the fan experience,” Bell said.

Jade Williams, a senior at Catawba and an operation intern with USA Baseball, has spent the summer working with the Prospect Development Pipeline. The program identifies and develops amateur players for the professional leagues.

A highlight for Williams has been working with baseball heavyweights like Fred McGriff, Marvin Freeman and Ken Griffey Sr., as well as scouts for major and minor leagues. She started the internship with an 18-day trip around the country.

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