Austin Prep: Journey of the Heart
February 28, 2023
Baseball Operations Organization Broadens Perspectives While Connecting Students
By Olivia Ferri '23
A batter’s stance next to home plate mirrors a dancer’s parallel second position plié. Your knees are bent, your core is engaged, and your feet are firmly placed. When the batter swings, his hips shift to square off as he follows through the movement. In a similar fluid motion, dancers move through each step with seemingly effortless grace and emotion. Baseball and dance—so different, but interestingly similar in the important skills they foster.
A journey of the heart often ends in places you wouldn’t expect. Mine started in a dance studio at the age of seven. After eleven years and nearly twenty-five competitions, I decided to expand to a different playing field through Baseball Operations.
Baseball Operations is a student group that was established in 2020 to help support the baseball program while providing sports management opportunities for students. Over the duration of the program, students have been involved in a wide range of responsibilities including game announcer, on-field coordinator, social media manager, game analytics specialist, and sideline reporter. Even during the pandemic-stricken Spring 2020, the program continued through podcasts, virtual player interviews, and featured walk-up songs on the Austin Prep Baseball Instagram page. Baseball Operations has served as a pilot program with intentions to replicate the program throughout other areas of the athletic department.
When I first joined the Baseball Operations team, it was so outside of my comfort zone yet vaguely familiar, like the muscle memory of a well-choreographed piece. Although the scenery had changed from a stage to a press box, I could recognize the foundational elements: leadership, work ethic, and strategy that were present in both dance and baseball. I learned to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
The value of principled leadership involves taking responsibility, developing a plan, and communicating with peers. Just like individual roles in a production, each operations member assumes a responsibility based on their talents and interests. During the 2022 season, I became immersed in the world of announcing, social media, sports writing, and photography. I was humbled and excited when one of my photos was published in the New England Baseball Journal.
Our organization emphasizes work ethic. Whether it is dance or baseball, it is crucial that each student honors their commitment by devoting time and energy to the craft. In ballet, we commence every class with barre: a training regimen to warm up and build stability. We become stronger and better through repetition of each movement—just like swings during batting practice. Our work ethic is steadfast.
Rooted in strategy, as shown through the daily practice plan and the designation of operations team responsibilities, we strive to control baseball’s known variables to be ready for the unknowns. Choreography guides us but our team is ever ready to improvise.
Being part of such a high-functioning organization in high school is a unique experience in and of itself, but what I find most rewarding is the convergence of abilities. First, our baseball organization has become co-ed—female students have access to operational leadership opportunities in an exclusively male sport. Second, student motivation is powered by a passion, regardless of an artistic or athletic background, that requires intense effort and yields transferable life skills. Third, the skill and grace required to perform on stage are just as important as any player’s mental toughness and athletic prowess; each person plays a role in America’s favorite pastime.
The ops team is often described as the “team behind the scenes.” We move silently during the season and support the team smoothly and efficiently. Still, our recognition is loud and clear. Every member of our ops team was honored at the State Championship ceremony and received rings/pendants alongside the players. We may have missed the championship dogpile on the field, but we shared wholeheartedly in the team’s success.
To see our impact, we look not to the championships, rankings, or college recruitments. The true validation is how much we’ve grown. Our perspectives have broadened, skill sets expanded, and we have earned an appreciation for diverse individual strengths and contributions in every game. This is the legacy we leave to Austin Prep; in return, we have been part of a transformative experience that has equipped us with skills to lead, collaborate, communicate, and remain eager to learn in tomorrow’s world.
My operations experience to date has taught me the importance of breaking free from the comfort zones that hold us hostage to fear. To my fellow students, I urge you to embark on the journey of your heart and take a leap of faith, because it is not about hitting the home run—it is about knowing how to navigate the bases.