BRISTOL - Her goal is to one day ascend into the front office of a minor league baseball organization. In January, Brianna Root took another step toward that aspiration.
The former All-State volleyball star, who helped lead Bristol Eastern to a state championship in 2012 and worked in the Bristol Blues organization for four years, landed an internship with the Baltimore Orioles ballpark operations department.
For Root, who is still in the training stages and learning the ropes of the organization, the spring internship offers a unique twist compared to those given by the Orioles in the summer or winter.
“In the spring, you get to see how things are done during spring training in the office, and you get to migrate toward the season and see how it kicks off,” said Root, who moved to Baltimore to begin the position a little more than a month ago and will continue working there through May. “You get to see how all the hard work in the offseason pays off once games start.”
Her duties consist of helping oversee a staff of approximately 600 event staff employees, which includes ushers, greeters and ticket takers. She has been heavily involved in the interviewing and hiring process of those employees, in addition to learning the best ways to efficiently and accurately run game day operations.
It’s a role Root grew accustomed to during her time in Bristol, and she says it was her experience as an assistant operations manager with the Blues that helped pave the way for everything that lies ahead in her career. And that’s what created the basis for Root’s ultimate career ambition - becoming the eighth female minor league general manager out of the 160 teams in the nation.
“The Blues was really the foundation of everything that I want to accomplish,” Root said. “Obviously, the Blues are a collegiate summer team, so they’re on a smaller scale than what a minor league or major league team would be, but I got to see how everything would work. I got to work with a lot of different managers and see their different styles and what works in different ways. Really, the experience I got with the Blues was being able to adapt to the different environments that you’re in and coming up with ideas that fit the environment that you’re in.”
Root was with the Blues from the ground up, being hired in January 2015 and working in the organization until August 2018, running game day operations, creating weekly schedules and payrolls and running the community outreach programs.
“Being a Bristol native, born and raised, definitely helped, [and so did] knowing a lot of the people that are coming to the ballpark,” Root said. “Making those connections and keeping those connections alive was huge. In the offseason, when our tickets got ready to go out, I would make sure to give them a call and ask if they wanted to renew season tickets. Building connections with people throughout the year is what kept the seats filled.”
For a long time, Root aspired to be MLB’s first female general manager. But she eventually discovered the responsibilities for a GM in the big leagues did not align with her biggest personal interests - coming up with creative ways to fill the ballpark. She came to that realization in December, when she attended MLB’s winter meetings in Las Vegas.
It was there where she went through the “quite intimidating” process of entering a large room filled with GMs and hiring managers in a variety of areas - analytics, team operations, grounds crew, social media, concessions, etc. She interviewed with a number of different organizations, and she gained 30-40 business cards with people within the minor league system.
“The best part [of the winter meetings] was networking,” Root said. “I wouldn’t have gotten those connections without going to the winter meetings, and I made sure to keep in contact with the ones whose values I liked the most and wanted to pursue.”
Prior to attending the winter meetings, Root applied to internships all over the country, but she didn’t expect to hear back from any of them. So she headed to Las Vegas in the hope of landing a job in baseball, but was pleasantly surprised to hear back from the Orioles within two weeks. Any pressure to secure a job in the winter meetings subsided.
“I got the Orioles internship before I went down, so it was really just learning the system and learning who knows who and just how close-knit the minors and major leagues are,” said Root, who credited her professor Deron Grabel, the department chair for sports management at Post, for encouraging her to go to the winter meetings.
Root, who is on track to graduate from Post in May with a communications degree, said she especially loved how the Orioles seemed to pitch in a personal touch by putting their internship application information directly on their website instead of simply posting it to TeamWork Online. It made Root feel “like they would take a little bit more care of the interns they would have come in.”
There are plenty of people in Root’s corner going forward including her former volleyball coaches Stacy Rivoira (Bristol Eastern) and Mike Brienza (Post) - both of whom she said played a huge role in making her the person she is today - and those she worked with in the Blues organization.
“She was a hard worker,” Blues general manager/sponsorship coordinator Brian Rooney said. “She was very detail-oriented. She helped us out tremendously with different tasks throughout the season. She’s an all-around good kid, and the Blues wish her nothing but the best. It’s an awesome opportunity for her.”
Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org