TJ Scholl, Media and Public Relations Coordinator
TJ Scholl talks about his USAB internship experience
Over the last two summers I have been a coordinator, fancy name for intern, with USA Baseball in Durham, N.C. As I reflect on the experiences I have had there, it is hard to describe in words a place where I have grown exponentially not only as a young professional, but also as a person. As I look back to my sophomore year in college when I first interviewed for the media and public relations internship, I would have never thought that in two years I would be where I am now. From writing practice press releases and feature stories that my boss, the one and only Jake Fehling, made bleed with his red pen, to traveling with the 14U National Team and experiencing the thrill of winning a gold medal in a foreign country, I can proudly say USA Baseball has been an integral part of what makes me, well ... me.
In my first summer with USA Baseball, as a young and inexperienced journalism student, I was thrown headfirst into a crazy summer of nonstop action and baseball. In all honesty I had no idea what I was getting myself into. All I knew was that I needed an internship on my resume, I liked baseball and I could write pretty well, or so I thought.
I was immediately given the project of the USA Baseball magazine, which is a yearly magazine produced by USA Baseball and distributed at tournaments all across the country. Trying to impress my boss I started writing immediately and worked as fast as I could to get the stories done before he expected them, first mistake. One of the biggest lessons that I have learned over my two summers was to slow down and take my time. I got my stories back with an email that said, "Good first attempt, but let's take another stab at these," which is a nice way to say these suck, please do it again.
But, as soon as I read that email Jake walked in to talk about what he saw and what needed improvement. That is something you can always get at USA Baseball, face-to-face opinions and staff that will take the time to sit down and talk to you about ways to improve your work, and for that I am forever grateful.
As the summer wore on, I got into the swing of things and fell in love with the work I was doing as well as the people I was working with. If can describe the USA Baseball work environment in one word, it's a no-brainer -- family. You wake up early together, sweat together, pull tarp together and leave the ball park at 1 a.m. together. At the end of the summer, I felt like I had learned more in four months than I had in four years of high school, no offense Swansboro. When I was asked to come back for a second year with the option to travel with the 14U National Team as the press officer, I thought about it for a little while, but at the end of the day I couldn't turn down the opportunity to be a part of the USA Baseball family once again, as well as travel internationally.
As the seasoned veteran of the USA Baseball coordinators, I was given a little more responsibility as well as a little more freedom. I had helped with media for multiple tournaments in my first summer, but I was never the only media contact on site, but that changed immediately as I went to Fort Myers, Fla., for the 14U East Championships. While it was nice to not have the towering 6-5 Jake Fehling standing over my shoulder every second, aka freedom, I soon realized that any mistake that was made came directly back to me, and I was responsible for dealing with it -- responsibility. And this isn't just a lesson for the media relations position with USA Baseball, but something I will take with me for the rest of my life. As the summer continued I soon came upon the time where I got to work with the 14U National Team. Kids flew in, things got busy, and I had one of the best experiences I could have ever asked for.
Traveling to Venezuela with 18 kids who were about to enter high school is an experience to say the least, but one I would do over in a heartbeat. At the age of 21 I was a press officer for one of USA Baseball's National Teams, but as I look back on that experience, that was only a job title for those two weeks. Even more importantly, I was representing not only myself, but my country in a foreign nation. To be able to say I have traveled internationally and helped represent my country in the game of baseball is something I will never forget. You know what else I will never forget? Writing press releases in a McDonald's in Venezuela, beating the kids in pool volleyball at a hotel, winning a gold medal, rushing the field to celebrate with the team (hello, YouTube), taking pictures with the American flag with my baseball family, listening to OUR National Anthem as we received our trophy (hello, goosebumps) and most importantly the relationships and lessons I have learned along the way.
Now a senior at UNC Chapel-Hill, I have been asked by USA Baseball to go to Panama City, Panama, in October to help with the 2011 Baseball World Cup. Two-for-two in gold medals? Knock on wood, let's get it done.
As I cleaned out my desk last week and started saying my goodbyes to the USA Baseball staff, I couldn't help but be sad at the thought that I might never work with these wonderful people again. I had spent more time with them than I had anyone else over the last two summers, including my family. My home away from home was the National Training Complex in Cary, N.C., where I should have just pitched a tent in the press box for the last two years, and while I didn't think it at the time, I will certainly miss the experiences I had there. Who knows what the future holds, but if my experience with USA Baseball has come to an end, I don't think I could have written it any better.
Yes, I know this is long, and you stopped reading about five minutes ago, but I didn't realize how hard it would be to put my experiences and feelings on paper from the last two summers. Is it possible to recount all the laughs and lessons I learned in the last two summers? Not a chance, but it is possible to give credit where credit is due. But how can you begin to let an organization know how much you have appreciated everything they have done for you? In this case, you can't. So all I can say is thank you.
Thank you USA Baseball for making me, well ... me.