Matthew Zmuda ’17 is a communication major and baseball fan. In the summer of 2016, he interned for the Toledo Mud Hens. He shares his experiences here.
“The World Famous Toledo Mud Hens,” as the PA announcer broadcasts each time the players take the field, are the Triple-A minor league (MiLB) affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Fifth Third Field comes alive with fans and crazy promotions 72 times each summer. MiLB works hard to create a family experience and a fan connection at the ballpark. And the Mud Hens have a long storied history of doing just that.
I spent the summer of 2016 as a public relations and communications intern for the Toledo Mud Hens, seizing the opportunity to immerse myself in the game I love, along with accepting the challenge to integrate and demonstrate the skills and knowledge I've developed over my three years as a communications major at Denison University. Entering the ballpark each game day was clearly more of a privilege than a job, as there is no other place I would rather spend a summer evening — or a rainy day.
My duties were extensive and wide ranging, all the while filled with the sights, smells and sounds of America’s Pastime. From interacting with professional athletes and front office personnel on a daily basis, to coordinating interviews for various local and regional media outlets, to writing game stories for the official website of the Toledo Mud Hens; the responsibilities provided hands-on experience in the career field of professional sports that I’m committed to pursuing.
As a communication major at Denison, I tackled my coursework in ways that helped me evolve into a more well-rounded, confident speaker, writer and student.
As a communication major at Denison, I tackled my coursework in ways that helped me evolve into a more well-rounded, confident speaker, writer and student. The professors in the communication department remind me of what they refer to in the sports world as a “player’s coach.” They are committed to each student, ensuring us that they are there on a daily basis to be both mentor and instructor for the academic advancement of each student.
The level of genuine care within the department is unmatched, and I’m grateful for their knowledge and expertise. From classes on rhetoric, to media studies, to human communication, I have been challenged to develop new skill sets and to apply them in and outside of the classroom.
The skills and knowledge I’ve developed have paid huge dividends in my internship responsibilities with the Mud Hens. I’ve developed greater confidence and clarity with interpersonal communications, as well as in my daily interactions with team and front office personnel.
Through the extensive writing projects undertaken as a student, I further developed my writing style, and as a result have integrated the skills I’ve mastered with my personal style and perspective on “the game.” My goal with each story posted on the Mud Hens website was to provide our readers a real sense of being “in the game,” while including enough on-field statistics to satisfy the appetite of the die-hard baseball fan.
The internship also has been particularly special because of what Toledo Mud Hens baseball has meant to me and my family. I have been going to Mud Hens games since I was four or five years old, and have a host of fond memories through which I came to love the game of baseball, especially when I was with my Grandpa, seated side-by-side, the two of us sharing a bag of peanuts.
Because my keen affection for the game began while watching the Mud Hens, I worked hard in landing my internship with the team this summer. And also through that love of the game, I have pursued a playing career, earning the privilege of competing at the collegiate level at Denison University’s Big Red Field for Coach Mike Deegan.
In and beyond all of these experiences, I continue to be inspired and motivated to pursue my career goal of staying in the game of baseball … on a field of dreams.