June 20, 2008

Q&A conducted by Reeves Wiedeman

Name: Griff WatsonSchool: University of Nebraska at KearneyYear: Will graduate in AugustAge: 23Hometown: Omaha, Neb.Major: Sports administrationMinors: Public relations and business administrationInternship: College World Series event management internPaid/Unpaid: UnpaidSchool credit: YesDuration: May 21 -- AugustHours: 40 hours per week

A three-year starter and two-year captain for University of Nebraska at Kearney's baseball team, Griff Watson had to give up his playing career after breaking his thumb this spring. But the former catcher has stayed connected to the game through a gig at the College World Series in his hometown of Omaha, where he has met Erin Andrews, staved off angry autograph hounds, and prayed for pitcher's duels.

How did you get the job/internship?

I knew I had to do an internship to complete my degree program, so I applied to a bunch of different places. I applied to the American Junior Golf Association, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and some others.

So why did you pick the CWS?

I interviewed in Omaha over semester break, and it was the first offer I got. But I also have family and friends here and the event is something I know a lot about and care about. I have a lot more invested emotionally here than anything with the Olympics. I was looking for something I would enjoy and would be happy going into work every day to do.

How have you spent your other summers?

I've coached a legion high school team the last four summers. A lot of people get worn down by it, but it's never happened to me, getting burned out. I've never lost the passion for the game. I'm still coaching this summer when I can, though I've taken some time off the past two weeks to focus on the World Series so they probably think I quit.

Would you ever consider coaching as a career?

Definitely. It's fun to see them getting better, and to pass along your knowledge. I've had positive coaches in the past, and I'd like kids to say that about me. I'd love to get a graduate assistantship on a team if I go back to school some day.

What was your first day like? Were you nervous?

It's a pretty laid-back office, so not really, but it was amazing to find out how much goes into it from this end.

What was your job like before the Series started?

I work on the event management side and we've been doing a lot of work putting up the sets for the NCAA and ESPN people. We helped set up a golf tournament with some people from ESPN, so there was a lot of setting up tee times and a lot of busy work that has to get done before the series starts.

Have things picked up as the Series has gotten closer?

The last couple days, I've been showing up at Rosenblatt at 10 a.m. We start selling tickets to the fans already lined up, and today I was handing out the free gift to the first 7,500 fans. It was some sort of cardboard fan.

During the games we work the information tents, deliver sack lunches and waters to the teams after they play, and then we get ready to start over for the next game. In between there are miscellaneous duties, like moving the color guard and the national anthem singer out onto the field.

Are you getting paid?

Nope, I'm just living off the money I made working for the athletic department. When that runs out I'll go running home to mom and dad, I guess.

Do you at least get to watch the games?

A lot of the time we're not too busy, so I'll be on the field watching the game. I get an all-access pass so if I want to watch a game I just sit down in the camera wells on the field, or just go up to the ESPN broadcast booth and watch them do their broadcast.

Any other perks?

The biggest perk is just being down at the stadium. Otherwise, it's been the five polos I get to rotate through each day.

Have you gotten to meet any players?

We had the opening ceremonies Friday, and I helped walk the LSU team onto the field. After being an athlete, I know how much fun it would be to have such a big deal being made of your success. They were showing a highlight video in the outfield and the guys were trying to sneak peaks at it while they were walking in. You get goose bumps even if you're not one of the athletes.

Do you miss playing?

I do. I was a three-year starter but broke my thumb in our last series, so I had to make peace with not playing baseball anymore. We won our conference and went to the playoffs for the second straight year, so it was tough not to play.

What's been the toughest part of the job?

Working the autograph line. We were doing autograph sessions with each team on Friday. Each team was there for half an hour, then we would have to cut off the line. LSU is always a big hit and their fans always travel. I had to cut off some irate LSU fans, and got an earful for about 10 minutes even though I was letting their team leave to go get ready to play.

How have your hours been?

For the opening ceremonies last Friday we were here from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., and for the games we're here until the last game is over. We pray for the pitcher's duel, but you rarely get that in the college game. And then there's always good nightlife in Omaha during the Series, so I'm usually out after that.

What's been your favorite moment?

I got my picture with Erin Andrews. It was one of the other intern's birthdays and I saw her on the field. I went up to her and said "Erin, can you take a picture of my friend. It's his birthday." Then I asked her to take one with me too.

What's your dream job?

I really don't even know. I don't even know if I want to work in pro or college. As long as I'm doing something in sports and I can wake up being happy going to work that'll probably be a pretty good dream job.

Maybe somebody will just make it easy and offer me a job.

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