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Senior Interns for the Mud Hens
August 2, 2006

A Calvin senior is spending the summer working as an intern for the Toledo Mud Hens, an internship he landed through the college’s new sports management concentration.

Dean Exoo, 21, a sports management major who hails from Whitinsville, Massachusetts, is working for the Triple-A club, the top farm team for the Detroit Tigers.

“I love sports, so it’s great to be able to work with a professional sports team and see what that’s like,” says Exoo, who works in the Mud Hens’s operations department, doing general maintenance for the team facility and overseeing ticket takers and ushers. “A lot of what we do is to make the games run smoothly.”

The work isn’t always glamorous, he concedes. One of Exoo’s duties is to check every seat in the ballpark for wear or breakage. “That's kind of tedious,” he says.

Yet even when it’s taxing, Exoo is enjoying the work.

“It’s fun being able to go to work at a baseball stadium every day,” he says. “It’s fun being able to watch the baseball games at night and fun being in a baseball atmosphere. I took this internship to see what I’d like to do in professional sport. So far, I like it.”

Exoo says he can easily work 12-hour days when the team is in town. In fact his first week on the job he put in 75 hours!

The sports management program, which debuted in the fall of 2005, is one of three possible concentrations (exercise science and teacher education are the others) for physical education majors. Exoo’s job with the Mud Hens is the first internship offered through the program.

“A previous student of mine interned at the Mud Hens,” says physical education professor Jim Timmer, who taught and coached in Cleveland prior to coming to Calvin. “He said send me your best one, and we sent him Dean.”

Timmer hopes to develop internships for the concentration in every area of sports management, including broadcasting, private health club management and both college and professional sports.

“We’re trying to develop internships that appeal to students’ personalities and what they want to get into,” Timmer says.

He is heartened by the broadening of the field of professional sports in Grand Rapids and its environs.

“Grand Rapids has certainly grown, with the Whitecaps, the Rampage, the Griffins. You have stuff that 15 years ago you didn’t have: the Lansing Lugnuts, the Battle Creek Yankees. We’re trying to work with all those people,” says Timmer, who is also trying to build internship relationships with out-of-state teams and organizations.

An internship in sports management field accomplishes a number of things for a student like Exoo, says Timmer.

“It gives them an inside look. It gives them a great networking ability. And it applies what they learn in class. If I’m teaching something outdated, they can come back to me and say, ‘Coach, this is how they do it.’”

Exoo, who is this year’s recipient of the Dave Tuuk Sports Management Scholarship, hopes his internship is a springboard to a job in professional sports.

“I’d love to work with a professional team like this," he says.

He’s even getting used to the phrase “Holy Toledo!”

“That’s something they put up on the video board if something happens in a game,” he says.

~written by media relations staff writer Myrna Anderson