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CLINE: Coolray staff couldn't be more friendly

Special Photo. Annette Bowen, a retired Gwinnett County employee, is part of the staff at Coolray Field that attends to the needs of up to 10,000 fans at Gwinnett Braves home games.

Special Photo. Annette Bowen, a retired Gwinnett County employee, is part of the staff at Coolray Field that attends to the needs of up to 10,000 fans at Gwinnett Braves home games.

LAWRENCEVILLE — I made my first trip of the season to Coolray Field on Sunday, enjoying a beautiful day and an extra-inning win by the Gwinnett Braves.

It’s always nice to visit the local ballpark, which still looks and feels as new as the day it opened three seasons ago. But what always stands out most about my trips to the park is the way you’re treated by the game day staff.

Those folks are so friendly and helpful that it makes me feel at home, kind of like in my earlier years as sports editor when I visited high school diamonds. People like Annette Bowen are a big reason why that feeling is so pervasive.

Retired from working for Gwinnett County, Bowen has been with the G-Braves since Day 1. A supervisor in guest relations, Bowen oversees a group of 15 that does everything from ferry fans in from the parking lot to man the elevators and stairwells.

“We help people get to where they’re supposed to be and keep them out of where they’re not supposed to be,” Bowen said of her crew, which you can recognize by their green shirts.

For Bowen, whose days generally start two hours before home games and end an hour or so after, it’s a labor of love. She worked for the county for nearly 30 years, first in the water department and later in the commissioners’ office. She also worked in human resources and oversaw an employee grievance program.

“It seemed like my entire career was dealing with people who weren’t happy,” Bowen said. “So I thought it would be fun to deal with a job where people were happy.”

Working at Coolray Field has more than provided that. Bowen said she enjoys her daily experiences at the ballpark but likes Sundays best because of the excitement created by the fact that kids are allowed to run the bases after the game.

A Hoschton resident born and raised in Hog Mountain, Bowen likes baseball but took the job more for the interaction with fans. She said it took some getting used to physically going from sitting behind a desk to running around a stadium (she used to wear a pedometer, once clocking in at eight miles of walking for a single game), but now she wouldn’t trade it for anything.

“It’s a constant state of motion,” she said. “None of us do it for the money. We do it because we love people and we love helping them have a good time. It’s a lot of fun.

“I love what I’m doing. It’s the best job in the world.”

Email Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Wednesdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/toddcline.