BUSINESS

Column: Senior project leads to sports internship with Mid-Atlantic Sports Network

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Anders Culiner
Oxford Stories
asculine@go.olemiss.edu

Now that there is only a month left in the semester, I wanted to share my story of how my senior project in high school has paved way to an upcoming internship this summer with Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, the primary television broadcaster for the Baltimore Orioles.

At the same time, I want to relay how my lifelong interest in sports led to me obtaining this special opportunity.

By age 6, I was already a sports fanatic. I have been an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan as long as I can remember, which is seen as blasphemous since I’m from Baltimore. My parents and friends have always been amazed at my ability to remember statistics and records that were set 30 years before I was born.

And it seems to transcend mere interest…It’s instinct.

Despite all of this, baseball was never a sport in which I developed the deepest interest.

It wasn’t that I disliked the sport, but as kid, I never found it as entertaining as football. Watching football, I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the next one-handed catch or the next hit that resonated throughout the stadium.

With baseball, I absorbed the data, but all somewhat dispassionately.

Even throughout middle school and the early years of high school, I never actively followed baseball. I only watched it during the World Series or if the Orioles were in the playoffs, the latter of which was something I never got see happen until 2012.

But that all changed in the spring of 2014 when I got to go behind the scenes for the production of several Orioles games.

In my senior year of high school, it was mandated that each student secure a ‘Senior Project’ that had to be completed a couple weeks before graduation.

When I first heard about the project, I panicked a little. While I was scrambling around thinking of ideas, it seemed that many of my fellow classmates already had plans. But it didn’t take long to realize I had a golden opportunity waiting for me.

My father, who is a close friend of a MASN senior executive, Mike Haley, brought up the possibility of working for the Orioles. I jumped out of my seat with excitement as soon as he mentioned it. At the same time, I also thought: “Why didn’t I think of this sooner?”

The project involved me observing all aspects of the live broadcast of a game. I saw how the camera crews set up various cameras around the stadium, looked at the technology-loaded trailers below the stadium that control the broadcast and sound, and sat in the booth behind the commentators during the game.

In the weeks leading up to the project, I knew I had to become a true baseball fan. Every day after school, I came home and studied the team’s players and stats so I could prepare for anything that came my way. Before I knew it, I started to develop a genuine interest in the sport, albeit with a dose of trepidation due to the newness of my involvement

Fast forward to my first day of the project – I was finally entering Camden Yards, the home stadium of the Orioles.

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Orioles players warming up before the game. Photo by Anders Culiner.

I first walked in the stadium at 10 a.m., and I was immediately in awe. I got to see the entire MASN team busily preparing at the night game.

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View from press box during Orioles game. Photo taken Anders Culiner.

Once the game started, I had the privilege of sitting in the press box with the statisticians. I also sat next to the commentators, including one of the greatest Orioles catchers to ever play the game, Rick Dempsey. I was further star-struck when he introduced me to his commentary partner and Hall of Fame pitcher, Jim Palmer.

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Jim Palmer commentating during a game. Photo by Anders Culiner.

As I took everything in, I thought: “This is more than I could have ever anticipated from a school project.”

Simultaneously, the game was quite enthralling. The Orioles were playing their first game of a series against the Cleveland Indians, and it was a slugfest with many lead changes throughout.

As the ninth inning approached, I was asked to come down to the broadcast trailer below the stadium. The game went to 12 innings, and there was no end in sight. It was almost 1 a.m. when the game concluded, but the Orioles, unfortunately, lost.

My first day of this project included so much over such a long period of time, I almost felt I could make an entire project of the one game.

Over the next several days, I got to experience a similar routine all over again with lots of preparation for a comparatively shorter broadcast, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

As I departed at the close of my final day, I recall thinking: “This could be the beginning of something special.”

Flash forward again to this past Christmas break. This prophecy seemed to manifest itself as another opportunity arose.

When I first started college, like many others, I had no idea what I wanted to pursue. After my freshman year and a portion of my sophomore year, I realized journalism was a field that suited me. Since I had always been a sports enthusiast, and even news in general, the choice for my major suddenly seemed clear.

During my first semester junior year, I began to consider ideas for an internship that would benefit my major and my future. I asked my father if he could talk to Mr. Haley about going even more in depth with MASN.

This time around, I had more experience, and I knew if I were to work as an intern, I could work with MASN with even greater purpose and specificity in the area of sports journalism.

I wrote some emails and made some phone calls to my contacts at MASN, and in just a few weeks, I had an interview set up with the company.

I met with two people, MASN’s Communications Director Spiro Alafassos, and MASN’s Social Media Director Olivia Witherite.

Alafassos explained that Ms. Witherite was herself once an intern at MASN before she worked her way up in the company, and hearing that gave me even more inspiration, knowing it could potentially pave the way for a similar opportunity.

Once I was told the internship was official, I retrospectively thought back over the last 15 years, considering the possibility that my lifetime interest in sports could be the catalyst that leads to my calling, and potentially, my career.

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