Pittsburgh Center alum find success at Winter Meetings

Written By Emma Christley, For The Globe

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Every year, Student Advisory Board members of The Pittsburgh Center for Sports Media and
Marketing look forward to the chance to attend the Baseball Winter Meetings, an annual convention of Major and Minor League Baseball executives holding meetings and networking with others in their field.

In addition to catching up and trading advice with each other, these professionals are also looking for the best and brightest current students and recent graduates to “network with peers, fill job openings, attend educational workshops and discuss innovating trends in the industry” at the PBEO Job Fair section of the meetings.

Point Park has made it known over the past five years of attendance that our students are highly skilled, talented and qualified candidates. Successful alumni of the trip sing the praises of their experiences and often cite the experience directly with landing them in their post-graduation jobs.

Successful alumni who have once traveled to the Winter Meetings shared their experiences.

Matthew Kruth is currently a content producer for the NBA, but in 2016, he was one of about twelve Point Park students about to attend the Winter Meetings in National Harbor, Md.

Initially on the fence, he almost decided not to attend the Meetings, but now Kruth credits the  experience directly for giving him the opportunities he’s had in his career that have led him to his current role. Kruth says one of the most valuable lessons he learned was to put
himself in situations that made him uncomfortable because it forced him to grow.

“For someone, such as myself, who had trouble in networking situations, it was important to learn to get over those fears in an environment where people are supportive and helpful,” Kruth said. “I felt like a brand new man once the craziness died down and we were on our way home.”

From his boldness at the Winter Meetings, Kruth was offered a position after graduation with the Staten Island Yankees in the communications department. While there, he learned how working in the minor leagues can prepare a sports professional for the rest of the industry, albeit through trial and error.

“My boss and I were responsible for everything from marketing, to social media, to game presentation, to press releases, to partnership activation,” Kruth said. “In minor league baseball, it’s all hands on deck. It is usually not an easy job, but cutting your teeth in the minors garners a ton of respect in the sports industry.”

Photo by Submitted by Casey McGaw
Casey McGaw (back) is currently the Social Media Coordinator for the Indianapolis Indians. Above, McGaw takes a picture of player James Marvel as he takes the field prior to a game.

Casey McGaw also attended the 2016 Winter Meetings in Maryland, in addition to attending the year before in Nashville. She describes her experience at the Meetings as “absolute (but wonderful) insanity”.

McGaw describes days filled with workshops, obsessive job board stalking, interview requests and running wildly across the various convention centers to be prompt to your next interview, which makes for a “very long, very exhausting, but very fun experience”.

McGaw is now going into her fourth season with the MiLB and her second as a full-time Social Media Coordinator for the Indianapolis Indians, the Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Her involvement with the Center led her to making the connections that, in addition to her  experience at the Winter Meetings, helped her to land internships with various different teams that eventually led her to her current position.

“In sports, having minor league experience is 1,000 times better than having no experience,” McGaw said. “Employers know that, in the minor leagues, you put in really hard work and it shows you can be a versatile employee. If you want to work in sports, this is one of the best places as a college student you can possibly start.”

The greatest thing McGaw stressed that would help any student looking to follow in her path is preparation.

“Go above and beyond to pursue opportunities,” McGaw said. “When I was hunting for a full-time job, I followed every social media person for a sports team I could. I reached out to some personally and picked their brains. Doing the bare minimum will get you nowhere. Don’t be afraid to put in some time, and to reach out to people for advice.”

Rebekah Mohrmann is currently the Media and Graphics/Promotions Assistant with the Salem Red Sox in Salem, Va. In Mohrmann’s case, the connections she made not only at the Winter Meetings, but also during her time at Point Park and with the Center, contributed greatly to her landing her current position in Salem.

“The Winter Meetings allowed me to feel comfortable interviewing, stay calm in frantic situations and environments, and really perfect the skills of organization and multitasking,” Mohrmann said. “While at the Meetings you have to always be on top of things: knowing what interview is next, where you have to be at what time, and who you’re interviewing with.”

Mohrmann didn’t get an interview with her future employer until the end of the conference, which is why she offers the advice to never give up.

“No matter how many rejections get thrown at you, you just have to keep chugging away towards your goal,” Mohrmann said.

Suzie Cool is currently the Marketing and Promotions Manager, On-Field Host and Color Analyst for the Salem Red Sox, but is also the Point Park alum who hired Mohrmann – proof that connections really do matter.

Before making the trek down to Salem, Cool started as a Pirates Ball Girl, which then led her through the Pittsburgh sports world to opportunities with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Wheeling Nailers, ROOT Sports Pittsburgh, Entercom Radio and AT&T Sports Network.

With her extensive and impressive resume, it should be no surprise that she left the Winter Meetings in 2017 with an offer from the Salem Red Sox as their On-Field Host and Media and Graphics Assistant.

Once in Salem, Cool was feeling unsure if she made the right decision leaving her home, friends, family and the city she grew up in, but through this feeling of uncertainty she came up with an idea that would change her life. Not having much experience in the broadcasting booth, Cool jumped right in and, during the 2018 season, Cool became the first female in Carolina League history to broadcast a baseball game.

It was her gumption that led her to taking on this new role that also led to the Salem Red Sox offering her the full-time position she now holds, but that still didn’t satisfy Cool. For the 2019 season, she dreamed of an all-female broadcasting booth. Along with Melanie Newman as the lead play-by-play announcer and herself as the color analyst, Cool’s vision came to life and history was made.

Before making Salem Red Sox history though, Cool attended the 2017 Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fl. She described her experience as “the most overwhelming couple of days due to the amount of preparation, interviews, and people that you encounter—but it was also something that you will only ever experience maybe once or twice in your lifetime.”

Her biggest takeaway from the experience was realizing just how big the business is.

“I think a lot of people focus solely on the Major Leagues, but the Minors is something truly special to be a part of,” Cool said. “It’s where most of the people you see in the Majors get their start. It truly helped me appreciate where I’ve been…because now I can fully say that I have seen almost every corner of this industry.”

These alumni have offered some of their best advice for having the best and most successful trip possible, should one decide to attend the Winter Meetings for themselves.

“The biggest thing I learned from my experience was to learn to be out of my comfort zone,” Kruth said. “To ask questions, be attentive, and to introduce myself to people. So many of the people at the Winter Meetings are there to help young people break into the industry.”

“Connections matter; you have to stay quick and on your toes in order to succeed, and when the Center makes you go through Winter Meetings prep, take it seriously,” McGaw said.

The Center does not just send students without making sure to properly prepare them for their experience and works both as a group and one-on-one to send the best versions of the students to the Meetings.

“Point Park put a ton of time into prep work for the Winter Meetings,” Cool said. “From correcting our resumes to practicing elevator pitches, there wasn’t one thing that they didn’t cover before we were on our way to our interviews for our future jobs. The portfolio I used over two years ago is an example I show people to this day, and I still mimic most of the work that is included in it when I go on interviews now.”

The Winter Meetings are not the only things these former students credit with their success. The Center itself, with the resources, connections and community it provides, gets students the experience and connections they need to succeed.

“The Center played a massive role in shaping who I am as a professional in the sports industry today,” Kruth said. “It provided guidance, mentors, and friends that will last a lifetime. People like Mike [Fetchko] and Tom [McMillan], the founders of the Center, have always been invaluable resources for as long as I have known them. Thankfully, my experience with the Center continues to create opportunities to help current students reach their goals, just like the students who came before me helped me reach mine.”