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Rowdies Celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day

By Rowdies Communications, 02/03/21, 12:30PM EST

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February 3, 2021, marks the Women’s Sports Foundation’s 35th Annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day (NGWSD). This celebration inspires girls and women to play and be active, to realize their full power. The confidence, strength and character gained through sports participation are the very tools girls and women need to become strong leaders in sports and life.

In the community, the Rays Baseball Foundation and Rowdies Soccer Fund is proud to support women in sports. The Rays Baseball Foundation and Rowdies Soccer Fund’s support of Girls on the Run Greater Tampa Bay’s scholarship fund has provided underserved girls throughout Tampa Bay the opportunity to participate in Girls on the Run’s program – a transformational physical activity based positive youth development program for girls in 3rd-8th grade. Girls on the Run teaches life skills through dynamic interactive lessons and running games, all with the goal of building confidence through accomplishment, while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness. The Rays Baseball Foundation supports Rays RBI Tampa softball program, which is designed to grow interest and participation in the sport, encourage girls to stay in school, foster academic achievement and community responsibility, encourage inclusion of minorities in the sport, develop confidence and self-esteem, teach the value of teamwork and help build better futures.

While we celebrate all of the women of the Tampa Bay Rays and Rowdies, we wanted to highlight six incredible women of our front office, who shared with us some insight on their journeys to get where they are today, along with advice they have for women, who aspire to also work in sports one day.

 


Jenn Tran

1994- Vice President, Human Resources and Organizational Engagement

What brought you/your career into sports and specifically the Rays?
My path into the sports industry was a bit unconventional and began through a partnership with my local high school and various employers in south St. Pete.  This program afforded me an opportunity to be in the company of an incredibly strong female leader, who took me under her wing while guiding and developing me and ultimately paving the way for my 25+ year career.

What is your favorite thing about working in sports?
The camaraderie. Being a part of the Rays [and Rowdies] is like being part of a family that is your loudest cheering section at a sporting event!  They are the passionate ones, the ones with handmade signs, balloons, confetti and air horns!  Always there to celebrate your successes, both personally and professionally.

What are some of the most important traits to be successful in your role?
You must be goal-oriented. Goals for where you want your career to go and how you plan on getting there. You also have to have a willingness to do whatever is required of you, letting no task ever be beneath you.

How have you overcome challenges in your career?
Challenges occur in every field.  I try to always look at challenges as opportunities for growth and development.  While it’s not easy being out of your comfort zone, being comfortable doesn’t push you to become a better version of yourself.

What advice do you have to young women looking to work in sports?
Sports while fun and exciting, is hard work. I am always honest with anyone wanting to enter the sports field.  You have to want this and be prepared to make a significant investment to ultimately achieve your goals.  In order to thrive, you have to love what you do each day.

What does being a woman in sports mean to you?
It means that I have a unique opportunity to be a pioneer and more importantly an example for other future female leaders.  It is my hope that my contributions will inspire others to pave their own path to success in the sporting world.


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Rafaela A. Amador Fink

2014- Vice President, Public Affairs and Corporate Communications

What brought you/your career into sports and specifically the Rowdies?
I spent an entire career outside of sports prior to beginning with Rays and Rowdies. Sports have always been a passion of mine, but I never thought my previous background, which includes teaching high school English and working in the political sector, would lead me to sports. When the Rays created a communications position on the business side, it was an unexpectedly perfect fit.

What is your favorite thing about working in sports?
There is something about spring training that makes me fall in love with baseball again each year. The feel of the sun and the smell of the grass, are the simple things that remind me not to take life for granted, but there is also the renewed sense of hope that each year will be better than the last. Baseball serves you up a chance at a fresh start, every spring.

What are some of the most important traits to be successful in your role? 
Flexibility.  When you work in communications and public affairs, change is the only constant.

How have you overcome challenges in your career?
You must remember that you aren’t the only person to go through the challenges you are facing. Challenging situations can feel lonely, so build authentic relationships with your colleagues – those relationships can help you face any challenge.

What advice do you have to young women looking to work in sports?
Remember that there is always an opportunity to learn. Whether that lesson is from the fan host or the GM, every person adds value and provides insight. Always sit at the table when asked, but be prepared to listen more than you speak.

What does being a woman in sports mean to you?
​​​​​​​It’s about representation for young women and girls who look like me.  Like they say, if you can see her, you can be her.


Elisia Plunkett

2019- Manager, Marketing

What brought you/your career into sports and specifically the Rowdies?
When I got to Duke University, I was given the opportunity to work as an intern for the Duke Athletics Marketing and Promotions department.  After undergrad, I spent 3 years in Atlanta working for a media and advertising company, but decided to enroll at the University of Louisville where I got a master's degree in Sport Administration and was selected to participate in their Adidas internship program. Upon graduation, I was hired for my current role at the Rowdies.

What is your favorite thing about working in sports?
I love the behind-the-scenes experiences! To be on the other end of what fans see, planning out the marketing campaigns, organizing the photoshoots, is such a blessing and provides me so many experiences and memories many people don't get. Also, having a field-side view of the games isn't too bad either!

What are some of the most important traits to be successful in your role?
Forethought and organization. It is so important to be one step ahead of the what-ifs and could-be’s. What if we trade a player? What if there is a rain delay? No matter what the scenario, it is important to have a plan, and to be ready to execute at the drop of a dime. 

How have you overcome challenges in your career?
By really leaning on my mentors and supervisors for advice. Not being afraid to ask for help and advice has saved me a lot of trouble and taught me so much. 

What advice do you have to young women looking to work in sports?
Be sure to take as many opportunities as you can, big or small, to gain experience. Internships, fellowships, even volunteer opportunities, go a long way on a resume. 

What does being a woman in sports mean to you?
Being a woman in sports, particularly a woman of color, gives me such a sense of pride because I am providing the representation I did not see growing up. Women of color are underrepresented in all fields of sport administration, so being even just one number to help swing that trend in a positive direction is humbling. If there is a little girl out there that looks like me who has dreams to one day work for her favorite sports team, I hope I can be a face she can turn to and see that nothing is stopping her.


Lisa Walesheck

2019- Graphic Designer

What brought you/your career into sports and specifically the Rays?
I’ve had a passion for sports and art my whole life. Living in Spain then opened me up to the soccer culture which eventually led me to my first opportunity in my sports career with the USL. Then when I saw an opening for a Graphic Designer working for the Rowdies (and Rays); I knew it was the perfect position for me.

What is your favorite thing about working in sports?
It’s exciting because it’s constantly changing. No 2 days are ever the same.

What are some of the most important traits to be successful in your role?
With a constantly changing environment, being able to switch gears at a moment's notice.

How have you overcome challenges in your career?
Before entering into the sports industry, I tried multiple times to break-in. I finally decided to create my own sports-focused design instead of relying on my past unrelated field collateral and that’s how I finally got my foot in the door. I guess you could say I “dressed” for the job I wanted.

What advice do you have to young women looking to work in sports?
Don’t listen to the noise or negativity around you. Try to always keep a positive attitude in whatever you do.

What does being a woman in sports mean to you?
I feel fortunate to be living during this time and in this country where a Latina woman can hold a position in a male-dominated field where I feel like part of the team.

 


These are the women who bring Rowdies Soccer to you. We aren’t done though. May we continue creating opportunities for young girls to thrive and fight for equality for women in sports both on & off the field.