For the past 10 years, baseball fans in Rome have seen dozens of the Atlanta Braves’ top prospects in action for the Rome Braves — and more than 40 of those have gone on to be big-league stars.
The decade has also seen a strong relationship develop between the Rome ballclub and Shorter University’s community.
It’s a bond that has allowed numerous SU students to spend the summer as interns with the R-Braves at State Mutual Stadium, learning nearly every aspect of the business.
“They are all quality individuals,” Rome Braves general manager Mike Dunn said about this year’s group of students that includes Shorter junior Emily Trew and recent SU graduates Abbie Daniel and Collin Wooddy, who were selected to be a part of the team’s internship program.
“This is a great venue for them to explore if they are interested in getting into a sports-related occupation,” Dunn said. “This is a real-work environment for them.”
Dunn doesn’t have to look far to see the fruits of the program, noting that here are six full-time employees on the R-Braves’ staff who have served as trainees for the team.
That list includes Karen Allen, who served as an intern for the team while she was earning her degree from Shorter.
After working in the Hawks’ Department of Athletics, Allen was named as the Rome Braves’ ticket manager earlier this year.
For Trew and Daniel, the experience of working together for the Braves is a continuation of the teamwork they shared while playing for the Shorter women’s basketball team.
The duo played key roles in helping the Lady Hawks post a record-tying 28-7 record — the program’s fifth straight 20-win season — and earn a third straight NAIA national tournament berth where they reached the Round of 16.
“What has been good is being able to talk with all of the full-time staff and learn what they do,” said Trew, who has shifted her major from Business to Marketing and Accounting. “That helped me change my major.”
The Dalton native started the first half of the season working in the R-Braves ticket office and helped with groups and parties.
When the second half of the schedule began in June, Trew began working in the team’s front office and during games oversees the live streaming of every home game from the press box.
“I’m learning every aspect about it,” said Trew, who even did a stint stepping into the costume of the Nickelodeon Yo Gabba Gabba character “Brobee” during a recent game.
Daniel, who graduated in May from Shorter with a Business Administration degree, is also making the most out of the opportunity.
“I was looking for a summer job and this fell into place,” said Daniel, who like Trew earned NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors. “It’s been an awesome fit for me.”
During the first half of the Braves’ season, Daniel could be found doing a variety of tasks in the front office as well as serving as — in her words — the “Cornhole Commissioner” for the bean-bag toss game held for fans.
When the second half of the schedule started, she shifted over to work in the team’s community relations department; something that as far as the outgoing Daniel is concerned is a perfect fit.
“I love meeting people. I’m quite the talker,” she said.
Wooddy, meanwhile, has earned experience from the ground up.
An All-Conference, three-year starter at tight end for Shorter’s football team, Wooddy started his internship with the Braves in January to fulfill the course requirements needed to graduate with a Sports Management degree.
“I started out working in the warehouse, but they needed someone for the grounds crew so I moved over to that,” said Wooddy, who will also remain at SU this fall as a graduate assistant for the football team.
When he did become part of Director of Turf Management Bryant Powers’ staff, Wooddy joined two other crew members with Shorter ties: SU graduate Shannon Houston and senior pitcher Ben Stell, who was an intern for the R-Braves last year.
“It is so much fun for all of them,” Dunn said. “Every day, every game they are doing something different.”