May 2014

Front Office Friday: Started from the bottom now he’s here … Chris Chenes!

The #CatdownIsOn! Two weeks from tonight, we’ll be hosting 4,500 of our closest friends on Opening Night at “The Joe!” We can’t wait to see all of you down here to open our 2014 season. We’ve made several announcements about our new concession area, Vamos Tacos (which is awesome!), a new mobile app (which is awesome!) and our brand new, state-of-the-art LED video board (which is AWESOME!!!). So come on down Friday, June 13 with first pitch set for 7 p.m. to check out all the new additions to “The Joe.” But be in your seat early … our 2013 Championship Celebration will take place prior to the game and we want you there!

With all that said, it’s time for another Front Office Friday. Today, we feature a Troy native who loves his hometown team. Chris Chenes is our Media Relations/Production Manager and handles most duties within the media and marketing departments. Those fancy pocket schedules you’ve seen around the Capital District? Chris designed them. The web content, videos and everything else multimedia related? Chris probably produced those too. That new video board you’ll see this summer? He’s running all the graphics that pop up throughout the games.

Working hard or hardly working? When your job is to study the Astros Media Guide, it can be considered both!

This season will be Chris’ fifth in his current role. He’s been involved with the ValleyCats since our inaugural season in Troy doing a little bit of everything – literally starting from the bottom. He’s sold programs, run the music, been an usher … about the only area he hasn’t been involved in is Food & Beverage, and even then he helped redesign the signs over the concession areas.

Chris developed his skills while attending Hudson Valley Community College, where he received his Associate’s Degree in Communications. He later earned his Bachelor’s in Communications from The College of Saint Rose and continued to learn all the ins and outs of the media and production business. In fact, as a part-time gig, Chris runs the music during the Siena & UAlbany basketball games in his spare time.

And speaking of spares, he’s usually working on turning those into strikes at Olympic Lanes bowling alley. Chris is quite the bowler, but also enjoys spending time with his family and friends, golfing and traveling – your typical baseball employee hobbies.

Let’s get to know a little bit more about Chris…

Q) If you weren’t working for the ValleyCats, what would you be doing?
A) Working in the media industry in some capacity.

Q) Who is your favorite MLB team?
A) The New York Yankees.

Q) What is your favorite sport other than baseball and who is your favorite team in that sport?
A) My second favorite sport is football, and my favorite team is the New York Jets.

Q) What are some of your hobbies?
A) I’ve been bowling since I was 13, love playing golf, poker, and traveling.

Q) What’s your favorite genre of music?
A) I love all kinds of music. One minute I’ll be listening to Zac Brown Band, the next Frank Sinatra, and the next Jay-Z.

Q) What’s your favorite meal to eat?
A) Has always been chicken parm. Also, homemade Pastichio (Greek lasagna)

Q) What’s your favorite pet or an ideal pet?
A) Definitely a dog, man’s best friend.

Q) What’s your favorite movie?
A) I don’t watch many movies, but anything with Denzel Washington, Martin Lawrence, or Clint Eastwood.

Q) What’s been your favorite moment at “The Joe?”
A) Many moments stand out, so I have to name two of them, and both took place in 2010. First, a walk-off home run from Kike Hernandez with his family in town visiting from Puerto Rico. The other moment is when the power went out during a game, and the players and promo team kept the fans entertained with giveaways and autographs. The fireworks were also shot off during the delay.

Q) If you could have one super power, what would it be?
A) To fly.

Q) What position would you play if you played for the ValleyCats?
A) Who’s on First? Nobody? Okay, then first base. I don’t have much range, nor a strong arm.

Q) What’s your favorite quote?
A) We live by quotes here in the office, and many of my favorites come from Walt Disney. One of them is, “The only way to get started, is to quit talking and begin doing.”

Chenes represents the ValleyCats even while bowling in his free time! (Photo courtesy of J.S. Carras/The Record)

Q) Who is your all-time favorite baseball player?
A) It used to be Alex Rodriguez, but not any longer. I’d have to say any of the core four…Derek Jeter, Andy Pettite, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada.

Q) If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
A) Derek Jeter, Donald Trump, and Johnny Evers.

Q) If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?
A) Buy a condo in New York City, a house on the beach in Florida & Long Island, a new car, travel, donate to non-profits, possibly buy a professional sports franchise, and give a bunch to my parents & family. I would make sure to leave some for the future of my family, but would spend most of it while I’m living…because as my father always says, you can’t take it with ya!

Thanks for all you do, Chris! We appreciate the hard work and the time spent putting together everything from game notes to marketing brochures.

Front Office Friday: Dianna Blanchard is keeping the stadium “full”

Whew! What a busy couple of weeks it’s been! Interns began rolling into the office over the past couple of weeks, fresh out of their spring semester’s at school. The season is swiftly arriving, as we’re three weeks away from Opening Night!

We took an extra week to make sure we got all the juicy details for this week’s Front Office Friday feature. Dianna Blanchard is going on her third season as Food and Beverage Coordinator with the ‘Cats. Dianna earned her undergrad degree from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts before returning home to the Capital District to earn her MBA at Union Graduate College. While at MCLA, Dianna played for the school’s volleyball and basketball teams, and continues to play volleyball in her free time.

Dianna has full control of the concession areas at Joe Bruno Stadium!

 

A reminder to concession workers, this is painted above the main kitchen.

On game days, Dianna is working around the clock to ensure all the food is prepped, the food areas are ready to go, and her employees are in line. Dianna’s food areas include: Top of the Hill Bar & Grill, Field of Dreams, Picnic Pavilion, The Porch, our Luxury Suites and Diamond Club, the general concession stands, vendor carts, hawkers and probably a few others that I’ve forgotten (thank goodness she has it all in order!). We have a large game day staff and many of them are working the concession areas overseen by Dianna. In the off-season, she’s busy coming up with new menu items for our fans to try and we think you’ll like what we have to offer this year! Get ready for some delicious offerings at the concession stands!

In the meantime, let’s learn a little more about Sweet D…

Q) If you weren’t working for the ValleyCats, what would you be doing?
A) I would be on tour as a backup hip hop dancer. Luckily for the ValleyCats, I have no dance moves or rhythm.

Q) Who is your favorite MLB team?
A) To me there is no one better than the ‘Cats.

Q) What is your favorite sport other than baseball and who is your favorite team in that sport?
A) I’m a big volleyball fan. The best team is Fireballz, obviously.

Q) What are some of your hobbies?
A) During the off-season I try to play volleyball and travel as much as I can. I also enjoy the occasional series binge watching on Netflix.

Q) What’s your favorite genre of music?
A) I like to sing to country and dance to house music.

Q) What’s your favorite meal to eat?
A) Start with some tomato, basil, mozz. Then it’s a tie between my mom’s meatloaf and her mac ‘n cheese. A Philadelphia roll on the side. And end it all with a nice warm brownie sundae.

Q) What’s your favorite pet or an ideal pet?
A) I’ve always wanted a monkey, but realistically a lab or pug.

Q) What’s your favorite movie?
A) My favorite sports movies are Miracle and A League of Their Own. I’ve also enjoyed pretty much every rom-com ever made.

Q) What’s been your favorite moment at “The Joe?”
A) Every time the national anthem singer nails the Land of the Free note and the energy it sends through the stadium #Merica

Q) If you could have one super power, what would it be?
A) Hmm…is time travel a super power? That would be pretty cool.

Q) What position would you play if you played for the ValleyCats?
A) 1st base.

Dianna proudly holds the NYPL Championship Trophy from 2013!

Q) What’s your favorite quote?
A) On Gamedays: “Meals and Memories made here daily.”
Non-Gamedays: “Not all who wander are lost.”

Q) Who is your all-time favorite baseball player?
A) I forgot his name…

Q) If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
A) James Franco, Oprah, Elvis Duran

Q) If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?
A) I would probably put the first million into a POS (point-of-sale) system. Then, I would give some to friends and family. Then, I would probably spend a few years traveling and eating my way around the world.

Makes sense for the Food & Bev Coordinator to want to “eat her way around the world!” Thanks for putting on a great menu, Dianna! Our fans would go hungry without you!

Front Office Friday: Developing Fans for Life – it’s Michelle!

With five weeks remaining until Opening Night, the action around “The Joe” is officially into high gear! Tonight, we host the final two high school baseball games of our Friday Night Lights series. Troy and La Salle square off at 4 p.m. and Guilderland takes on Columbia in the night cap. Proceeds from ticket sales tonight go toward the Coaches vs. Cancer fundraiser and both games will be broadcast on Time Warner Cable Sports Channel.

We have some exciting news that we’ll be announcing shortly, so stay tuned to http://www.tcvalleycats.com for the latest on-goings.

Michelle’s smile is recognized by all fans who have visited our Fan Service Center.

One person who has been extremely busy is Michelle Skinner, our Fan Development and Community Relations Manager. Each spring, stacks of paper find their way to her desk. These stacks consist of donation requests, community appearances and merchandise order forms. Somehow, Michelle sifts through it all and fulfills as many requests and orders on a daily basis as she can.

Michelle joined the ValleyCats front office prior to the 2010 season after spending two years in Nashville, Tenn., where she was the Operations Assistant at Nashville Superspeedway. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Administration from Ball State University in 2007. Michelle also completed an internship with New York-Penn League rival Vermont.

One of the great qualities about Michelle is she’s always thinking of others. She is a member of the Troy Kiwanis and International Service Sorority – Epsilon Sigma Alpha. She runs several races throughout the year, typically fundraising for charity and exemplifies all that the ValleyCats strive to be in the community.

Michelle is a big sports fan and follows her favorite Indiana sports teams. She’s a diehard Ball State Cardinals football fan and cheers on the Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers. She grew an affinity for the NHL’s Nashville Predators during her time in Music City. And yes, she’s a country music fan too!

Here’s a little more about Michelle…

Q) If you weren’t working for the ValleyCats, what would you be doing?
A) If I wasn’t working for another sports team, I would want to work for a nonprofit like St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Event Planning and Fundraising.

Q) Who is your favorite MLB team?
A) I never really had a favorite baseball team. Growing up I liked the Cleveland Indians, but went to White Sox and Reds games. Now I’d say the White Sox, but I mostly follow the Astros. If I keep going to Yankees games, I might mess around and become a Yankees fan…

Q) What is your favorite sport other than baseball and who is your favorite team in that sport?
A) My favorite sport was always basketball, I am a big Indiana Pacers fan. My other favorite teams are the Nashville Predators, Indianapolis Colts, and my Ball State Cardinals!

Q) What are some of your hobbies?
A) I like to travel, go to concerts (Aerosmith is my favorite), “run” half marathons, and visit other ballparks. I’ve been to 25 Minor League parks and 10 Major League parks so far.

Q) What’s your favorite genre of music?
A) I like most kinds of music, but my favorites are Classic Rock (especially 80s Hair Bands) and Country.

Q) What’s your favorite meal to eat?
A) A classic steak, baked potato, and corn on the cob.

Q) What’s your favorite pet or an ideal pet?
A) I would like to have a Golden Retriever or Great Dane.

Q) What’s your favorite movie?
A) I can’t pick just one, so I’ll give you my top six. I watch these over and over and they are good every time! Tin Cup, A Night at the Roxbury, Prime, Dirty Dancing, Pretty Woman, and Christmas Vacation. Honorable Mention: Gone in 60 Seconds.

Q) What’s been your favorite moment at “The Joe?”
A) There have been a lot of great moments over the past 4 seasons, but the one that really stands out was last year on Veterans Night. It gave me chills to see the Patriot Guard motorcycles and flag lines on the field during pregame.

Michelle recently completed a half-marathon as a St. Jude Hero in Nashville, Tenn.

Q) If you could have one super power, what would it be?
A) It isn’t a unique answer, but I would want to fly. That would really cut down my travel expenses.

Q) What position would you play if you played for the ValleyCats?
A) I would like to be the catcher, but trust me, they wouldn’t want me.

Q) What’s your favorite quote?
A) “Success has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It’s what you do for others.” – Danny Thomas

Q) Who is your all-time favorite baseball player?
A) I never followed baseball close enough to have a favorite. My all-time favorite athlete is Reggie Miller.

Q) If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
A) Steven Tyler, Cher, and Danny Thomas

Q) If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?
A) I would want to travel the world, share with my friends and family, and donate to causes that mean a lot to me.

Thanks for all your hard work Michelle and for keeping the ValleyCats top of mind in the Capital District!

Front Office Friday: The Colossus of Calls … The Sultan of Sales … The Drag Dynasty King … Chris Dawson!

We’ve reached May, which means next month baseball returns to the Capital District! With just six weeks to go until Opening Night at “The Joe,” things have been getting busier and busier in the front office. Our Friday Night Lights high school baseball series continues with the second session of games tonight. We are full go at the Clifton Park Little League concession stands. SouthPaw is getting into serious shape making rounds at all that’s going on locally. The only thing missing is ValleyCats baseball, but that will be here sooner than you know it!

Last week, we said goodbye to a long-time ValleyCats front office member, Ryan Burke, who has taken a new position with the New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association.

Today, we’re introducing you to Senior Account Executive Chris Dawson. Many of you probably know him or have at least seen him each summer at “The Joe” since 2008. That was Dawson’s first season as an intern with the ’Cats. He spent the 2009 summer also as an intern and was offered a full-time position following that season. Aside from his regular duties, Dawson helps out with office morale by coordinating the majority of our team building activities.

Senior Account Executive Chris Dawson is proud to call “The Joe” home.

Dawson is a Capital District lifer, having grown up in Halfmoon – or Clifton Park, as he likes to say. He graduated from Shenendehowa High and spent a couple years right here on the campus of Hudson Valley Community College. He later earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Management from Endicott College in Beverly, Mass. However, Dawson couldn’t wait to get back home to work for his hometown team.

When he’s not at the ballpark, Dawson is usually spending time with his family, though he no longer lives at home. He moved out of the homestead to Green Island and currently resides with our staff accountant Dan LaLonde. He also enjoys traveling and rooting for the Yankees and New York Giants. But we all know Minor League Baseball, and particularly the ValleyCats, will always hold a special place in his heart. After all, he is the King of the Drag Dynasty!

With that said, let’s get to know Chris a little bit better…

Q) If you weren’t working for the ValleyCats, what would you be doing?
A) Hopefully still working in sports in some capacity. I learned at a young age I wasn’t very good at playing, so I found other ways in which to be involved in sports.

Q) Who is your favorite MLB team?
A) My Dad raised me to be a Yankee fan. I have a lot of great father / son memories revolving around the Yankees. This summer will be my 10th year having Sunday Season Tickets to the Yankees.

Q) What is your favorite sport other than baseball and who is your favorite team in that sport?
A) My favorite sport other than baseball would be football. Growing up my brother and I both played and my younger sister was a cheerleader. You can definitely say we were a “Football Family”. My favorite NFL team is the New York Giants. The Giants are the only sports team my younger brother and I both root for; we spend a lot of time in the fall watching the G-Men with my family.

Q) What are some of your hobbies?
A) I love to travel, whether it’s a weekend getaway or a week-long vacation. I also really enjoy attending live sporting events and concerts. Typically my travel plans revolve around a sporting event.

Q) What’s your favorite genre of music?
A) Anything that sounds good being played at a ballpark or that I can sing along to while driving.

Q) What’s your favorite meal to eat?
A) Without a doubt surf and turf. I am talking a big steak, full lobster and some kind of potato concluded with a piece of cheese cake.

Q) What’s your favorite pet or an ideal pet?
A) Growing up my family always had a dog. I am a huge dog advocate, which is why I love our Bark in the Park event. I also know how much work they can be, which is why I don’t personally have one. Also, as you know from my roommate Dan’s bio, he’s allergic to everything under the sun. Basically, at this time in my life my ideal pet would be a pet rock. They’re easy to maintain, I can talk to it whenever I like and Dan’s not allergic to it.

A recent photo shows Dawson’s uncanny resemblance to Babe Ruth.

Q) What’s your favorite movie?
A) I still love the baseball movies I grew up with; Little Big League, Rookie of the Year, The Sandlot but as an adult I would probably say The Departed.

Q) What’s been your favorite moment at “The Joe?”
A) I don’t even know where to begin. I would have to say my favorite moment would be the 2010 playoff run at “The Joe”. I had my parents and grandparents in the stands for it. Also, my younger brother was working for us in the concession stands at that time. This moment for me was really when the light bulb went off in my head that my childhood dreams to work in professional baseball had come true. Honestly anytime my family is attendance I enjoy it. It’s a huge perk of working for a team in your home community.

I also can’t leave out the day when Matt Callahan offered me my first full-time job working in baseball. That moment is one I will never forget either.

Q) If you could have one super power, what would it be?
A) Typically Super Heroes try to be more like me. I once heard the Ninja Turtles had posters of me hanging up on their bed room walls.

Q) What position would you play if you played for the ValleyCats?
A) If Charlie ever retired I could probably be the Bat Boy. I also spent some time umpiring prior joining the ValleyCats staff.

Q) What song would you choose for your walk-up music?
A) I would have to say Salt ‘N’ Pepa – “Whatta Man” … but Miley Cyrus’s – “Party in the USA” would be a close second.

Q) What’s your favorite quote?
A) “Doing the right thing is never the wrong thing to do” – Harvey MacKay

If you need entertainment, Dawson is your guy!

Q) Who is your all-time favorite baseball player?
A) Don Mattingly

Q) If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
A) I would love to have dinner with Mark Cuban, George Steinbrenner and Babe Ruth. I would probably try and find a way to get my father a seat at the table as well and have my brother cook the meal. After the dinner I would want to hit up the town with guys like David Wells and the Babe.

Q) If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?
A) How much money are we talking about here? First, I would give my parents the opportunity to retire. Secondly, I would bring my family, friends and ValleyCats family away to a private island somewhere for a couple days to let loose. When I returned from my trip, I would definitely talk to Rick and Bill about some investment opportunities with the ValleyCats organization. Lastly I’d buy my brother a restaurant somewhere. He’s always wanted his own place and deserves a chance.

Thanks for all your hard work and for “hitting the phones” every day! If you don’t know, now you know!

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