Chasing a sports career
Kasen Dudley has seen what a Triple-A baseball championship ring looks like. In a few months, he will have one of his own.
Dudley, a 2009 Seabury Hall graduate and All-Star basketball player for the Spartans, was a promotions and game operations intern for the Omaha Storm Chasers in the recently completed season, which ended with the Kansas City Royals affiliate winning the top minor leagues’ championship for a second straight year.
“The general manager said, ‘Hey, you get a ring,’ that was kind of the last thing he said to me,” Dudley said Wednesday. “It’s definitely a cool experience. I was fortunate enough – because they’re back-to-back national champions – I got to experience and set up and kind of run this year’s ring ceremony. So, I’m kind of excited to see what the ring looks like this year.”
Dudley estimates he spent 80 to 100 hours per week at Werner Park, the team facility in Nebraska, preparing on-field promotions, running the scoreboard or doing whatever else was needed.
“I wore a different hat almost every series,” he said. “It was great. At the minor league level you get to see and be part of everything that happens.”
That is what he prepared to do as a sports management major at Louisiana State University, from which he graduated in 2013. He was an intern for Na Koa Ikaika Maui, an independent team, in 2011.
“Probably the most fun we had was we do a T-shirt shooter where we drive a Gator ATV around the field and two people are sitting in the back launching T-shirts,” Dudley said. “The players in the bullpen, maybe every three or four games, they would get out with their hose and just hose us down as we passed by, just soak us.
“It kind of meshed with the minor league experience, they are out there having fun, too. A lot of the time I was probably too delirious from working so much to remember all the crazy stuff that happened.”
Dudley now lives in Los Angeles, where his girlfriend, Ashley Thibodeau, recently got a job in the UCLA athletic department. Dudley has applied for jobs with the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL and Los Angeles Kiss of the Arena Football League.
“(The Royals) are kind of the underdog, I kind of like what they are doing, but I’m still 100 percent Dodgers fan,” Dudley said. “Going to the Dodgers game (Wednesday).”
Dudley landed his job with Omaha at the Major League Baseball winter meetings in Orlando, Fla., in December.
“The Storm Chasers actually happened to be my last interview,” he said.
“They offered me a job on the spot and I took it. The general manager happened to be from Louisiana, so we had a nice little connection there.”
His ride lasted through the Pacific Coast League playoffs, and then a 4-2 victory over International League-champion Pawtucket in the Triple-A title game on Sept. 16.
“To have that as a fruition of all your hard work, just to be part of something (like) that towards the end was really special,” Dudley said.
“We had to win all the games we had in the final week just to get into the playoffs and Oklahoma City had to lose two and they lost two. We were just on a roll, we had some guys that were doing pretty well. It was just exciting.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org