Austin’s Spring Training Experience Reflection


My experience covering MLB spring training over the week of UF spring break was exhausting! However, it was definitely worth it! I had a fantastic time with the unique opportunity to be able to be so involved and see so much of what goes into a professional team’s spring training.

I attended seven games in seven days at four different stadiums. Baseball has always been one of my biggest passions, having played it all throughout my childhood, and it is a dream of mine to work within the MLB industry. Seeing so many different teams and facilities brought out the baseball nerd inside of me and I loved every moment of it!

One of the biggest things I took away from this experience is how important it is to always be aware of what is happening around you. On multiple occasions, I was able to find a story or learn something new, just by talking to fans and employees.

During my time at Steinbrenner Field, I was lucky enough to run into the grandfather of New York Yankees starting shortstop Anthony Volpe. He attended two of the three games I went to and I was able to have some great conversations with him. He had some great stories about Volpe growing up playing baseball as well as a great sense of humor. This was one of my favorite moments of my entire experience.

Although I had a great experience, there is something I would do a little differently if I was given the chance. I would have been more strategic in what organizations to reach out to for media access or about stories.

As a lifelong Yankee fan, I tried really hard to gain some sort of access with the team despite knowing that it would be difficult beforehand. I was still able to get great Yankee content, but I wished I had put a little more effort into reaching out to teams that had been known to work with UF in the past such as the Marlins or Pirates. I likely would have been more successful in gaining access and could have found more stories.

During one of the days, a little more than half of our spring training group was able to get press credentials to the Tampa Bay Rays matchup against the Atlanta Braves. Due to the Rays spring training facility being destroyed by Hurricane Ian, the team was using Tropicana Field to host spring training games.

We were able to watch both teams take batting practice on the field, watch the game in the press box and gain access to some broadcast rooms in the stadium. We were also able to meet Rays reporters Marc Topkin, Tricia Whitaker and Adam Berry who were all very willing to speak with us and share their experiences.

Being in a real MLB press box was a surreal experience that I will not forget anytime soon. With everyone being very friendly and willing to share advice, I gained some confidence in moving forward with my career aspirations.

Overall, this experience was extremely helpful in giving me a unique look into what goes into working around the MLB. Talking to people who have carved out successful careers in the industry and witnessing so much baseball in a more laid-back environment helped me narrow down my interests and improved my confidence of working in the industry.

About Austin Stirling

Austin is a second-year student majoring in journalism with a focus in sports media. He hopes to one day work in the sports media industry and be able to travel around the country working for a team or media company. He is also a huge Yankees fan.

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