Everyone has a unique story as to how they began their career in sports. For Katie Lentz, an administrator for the Baseball Assistance Team, there was one thing that helped her through recovery from a near-fatal car accident. Baseball. We had the chance to interview Katie and ask her about her background and what has led her to where she is today, pursuing a career working in baseball.
What drew you to pursuing a career in sports? Was it always something you dreamed of or did you recently decide it was something that interested you?
I had always enjoyed watching sports but had never considered sports business as a career. In August of 2013, I was in a severe car crash caused by a drunk driver. This crash left me with 15 broken bones, internal organ damage, and many lacerations. During my five-week hospital stay, watching baseball every night provided a welcome distraction from the pain and my situation. In addition, MLB and MiLB teams sent me care packages and these greatly improved my morale. Once out of the hospital, I attended several playoff games in my wheelchair and the kindness I received from everyone in the baseball world left a huge impact on me. I returned to Tulane University five months after the crash. There, I decided to pursue a career in sports that would allow me give back to others.
When you were an undergraduate student, were there any special programs you were in that helped shape you and direct you towards your dreams? (student internships, specific coursework, extra credit projects, local volunteer opportunities, etc.)
My degree is in Public Health, so the large majority of what I studied didn’t relate to working in sports. However, my minor was Social Innovation, defined by the Stanford Center for Social Innovation as: “…a novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than current solutions.” Through the projects and readings in these classes, I began to see just how much sports could positively influence social issues. My capstone project for this minor focused on what a sports team and its corporate and community partners could do to create transformative change with an issue in their community. Without this field of study, I would not have realized the potential for change in these areas.
Upon graduation, did you go straight into full time work? If not, what did you do that lead you in the direction you are in today?
I had two internships after I graduated from Tulane in May of 2016. In the last semester of college, I returned for my second internship with the New Orleans Baby Cakes (they were still the Zephyrs at the time) from January through June. In July, I moved to Tampa to complete a Community Relations internship with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Of the internships you did (if you did any) do they directly correlate to the work you are currently doing? Or was it in another sector of sports business?
Both of my sports internships were in community relations. In those and my current role, the goal is to help others. The work itself is not very similar, but those past internships did prepare me for my role today as they introduced me to sports philanthropy.
What has been your biggest obstacle being a female working in the sports industry?
Honestly, I can’t think of any explicit examples of obstacles related to my gender. I realize I am blessed to be able to say that. I know there are women who have paved the way before me, and that’s probably why I personally haven’t experienced any difficulties related to my gender. Not every woman can say the same thing.
From student worker to intern to young professional, what is the best way you have learned to be respected as a young female?
I always try to be genuine with people, both personally and professionally. I have shown interest in learning how other departments operate, but I also take an interest in the people who run those departments. The relationships built through these interactions are so important. Additionally, I strive to put forth my best effort in everything I do—whether that’s the actual work itself, or forming these relationships with others.
Do you have an ultimate career goal that you wish to share?
My ultimate career goal doesn’t include a specific title or organization. I love working in sports and I love helping others. A role that allows me to do both is my goal, and I’ve already been blessed to have that opportunity.
Any career advice for young professional females looking to land their first time job after graduation?
You’ll probably have to take an internship before you get your first full-time job, and that’s okay. I learned and grew so much in my post-graduate internships and I’m extremely grateful for those experiences. Find a female mentor that you can go to when you need advice about your career, or just life in general. Teaching and uplifting each other makes us stronger!