KOKOMO, Ind. — The smell of hot dogs wafts through the air in Kokomo Municipal Stadium. Uptown Funk blasts through the sound system, combining with the crack of wooden bats on baseballs to create an atmosphere of energy and excitement.
On the field, Kokomo Jackrabbits players, clad in brown, gold, and white uniforms, throw baseballs and practice batting, preparing for the game.
As fans stream through the gates, Nick Teeter and Cole Hubbert, Indiana University Kokomo interns, take their tickets and welcome them to the game. Delaney Alexander assists guests with VIP tickets, while Rachel Allen escorts Jax, the mascot, through the crowds, making sure the white buck toothed hare stops to take pictures with fans of all ages.
All four agree, this is more than an internship — it’s a foot in the door in the sports business.
“This was the perfect opportunity,” said Allen, a senior from Lizton. “I want a career in sports, and this is letting me experience it firsthand.”
They’re excited to be part of the inaugural season for the Jackrabbits, a summer baseball team that is part of the summer collegiate Prospect League. The team plays in the new 4,000 seat Kokomo Municipal Stadium.
Their jobs change from game to game, and have included wiping down seats before the gates open, taking tickets, stocking and selling team merchandise, assisting in the tailgate area, working with the entertainment crew, and even cleaning the stadium after games. They arrive hours before the games begin, and stay long after the last fan has left, making for long days at work.
Even these non-glamorous jobs are valuable, Teeter said. As a member of the IU Kokomo basketball team, he’s experienced sports from the players’ side. The Jackrabbits internship allows him to see it from the management side.
“I’ve learned a lot working with Jenna Plummer, the team’s business manager,” said Teeter, from Berne. “It’s interesting to see the business aspect of the sport.”
Plummer understands the value of the internship experience — last season, she was an intern for the Prospect League’s West Virginia Miners, which led to her job in Kokomo.
“This is how you find your niche in sports,” she said. “My internship was huge for me, and I want to do everything I can to help them find their place.”
Plummer said the interns have been valuable members of the team as they opened the stadium for its first year.
“They do anything and everything that needs to be done,” she said. “They are a backbone of our organization.”
Delaney Alexander, Kokomo, has been surprised to learn she enjoys the merchandising side of working for the team. Before a recent game, she helped set up the team store, folding and stacking piles of brown, yellow, white, and gray Jackrabbits T-shirts.
She’s also worked with the host family coordinator, who introduced her to several team sponsors, and has learned about creating a welcoming guest experience that will bring fans back to more games.
“A lot of it is keeping people happy,” she said.
Hubbert, a business management major from Kokomo, learns from every experience.
“I take in bits and pieces of actual business that I could possibly use in the future if I get a job with a sports team,” he said. “It helps you realize what it is really like to work in sports, and what you could expect from a job in the industry.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.