The Ripken Experience Summer Collegiate Baseball League offers players a unique opportunity — a career that isn’t defined by success on the field.
Founded in 2017, the league plays home to six teams made up of 93 athletes in total. In addition to participating in 20-plus regular season games and playoff contests, the players are given internship opportunities to help pursue careers on the outside of the diamond in an operations role. The season runs from May 29 to July 1. After the season ends, the athletes have the chance to stay on and work as interns.
The league features Division I, Division II, Division III, junior college and NAIA players, and many of the athletes also use the experience to explore careers off the field.
According to Mike Darnell, the Baseball Operations Manager for Ripken Baseball, the Myrtle Beach facility is an expansive site with a training island, 17 batting cages, 12 bullpen mounds and a couple of practice infields. The collegiate players have access to those facilities during the season and once the season is over if the athletes stay on for the internship program.
Three such players who stayed on after the season ended and benefitted from working as operations interns at the Myrtle Beach location are Sean Perry of Keystone (Pa.), Ron Dent of Garrett (Md.) JC and Noah Whalen of St. Andrews (N.C.).
“My experience with the baseball side of it, I thought it was really good, especially for facility-wise and all turf fields so any time we had a weather problem, it didn’t hurt us that much,” Perry said. “Then, umpires were really good, they were really fun to work with and stuff and just meeting new, different players all from different schools, getting to know them, making new friends. And for the work side of it, for my experience I learned to be a little bit more responsible, dealing with all different kinds of people.”
Some of the duties included working as a tournament official, with each intern assigned two-to-three games a day. The interns played walkup music and advertisements for sponsors and worked with the grounds crew to maintain the field. Another job involved working with umpires and doing multimedia work, something Whalen touched upon.
“So, when you’re running operations, you would pick up umpires in games,” Whalen said. “You drop them off, you gotta know the time, you also control the place site and cameras, so you’re going from game to game making sure the camera’s turned on if the game is about to start, or if a game ends you have to know to turn the camera back off.”
The interns even got involved from the social media side of things, by monitoring the official accounts and posting video highlights of plays, such as a home run.
Dent believes the experience has helped him grow as a person.
“For the internship, I learned how to communicate with people better,” he said. “I was a bit nervous before to get on the mic, but now I’m not.”
And as if the experience wasn’t positive enough, the baseball players lived together while playing in the summer league, creating friendships that would last beyond this year.
“You live with these people so when you have a rough day at work or a rough game at Ripken, you just go home and everything just goes away because you are just chilling with your friends,” Whalen said. “That part of it was also nice.”
All three athletes stated they would be interested in pursuing careers from the operations side when their playing days ended.
“I would definitely pursue this after I can’t play anymore, or if it didn’t work out I would like to help other kids get to that dream or level to help them make it come true,” Perry said. “Or even business-wise, being around the sport in general to try and help as best you can to keep it popular.”