Samantha Dunn is in her fourth year as the Gwinnett Braves corporate sales manager and began working with the team before Coolray Field was even built. A native of Perry, Dunn attended the University of Georgia and still loves to cheer for the Bulldogs every Saturday.
In this installment of "Getting to Know..." staff intern Luke Dixon talks with Dunn about raising two girls, spending nearly all of her summer at a ballpark and working for the Columbus Catfish.
LD: What was it like growing up in Perry?
SD: We moved there when I was five. It's a very, very small town so it was real eye opening when I left to go to college. My high school had about 750 people in it. Everybody in our town went to the same high school, same middle school and elementary school. Everybody knew each other, which is good and bad. It was fun. I kind of like that environment. I think that's what I like about Gwinnett, too, is the little downtowns and things like that make you feel like you're at home.
LD: What did you study at Georgia to get into minor league baseball?
SD: I went to school to be a music teacher, but I changed my major three times from music to engineering, to sports medicine, to sports business, which is what I finally got my degree in.
LD: How did you get the opportunity working for the G-Braves?
SD: I was brought to Gwinnett to work for the Georgia Force when they were owned by the Atlanta Falcons and Arthur Blank. I worked there for about a year until things started to get shaky with the Arena Football League. I had met a couple of the guys, Toby Wyman and Bruce Baldwin, who were some of the original leadership (for the G-Braves) through a couple of chamber events. When things started looking weird (with the Force), I started to reach out. There just happened to be a position open that they didn't bring down from Richmond.
LD: How old are your kids?
SD: They are 18 months apart. Morgan is 8 and Kailtyn is 6. They are my heart. They have pretty much grown up at baseball fields because before I moved to Gwinnett, I worked for a minor league baseball team in Columbus for three years. Since they were in diapers were walking around the field. They're both avid softball players so when I'm not at this park, I'm at Collins Hill Park, playing softball with them. Eight and 6 are kind of crazy ages because they're starting to grow up and you're just (thinking) 'Gosh, I'm always at the ballpark' and missing a piece of that so you kind of want it to slow down.
LD: What's your favorite sport besides baseball?
SD: College football. I'm a huge Georgia Bulldogs fan. I'm getting geared up for that (now). It's a nice reprieve after baseball season gets over for me too.
LD: What was your first baseball job?
SD: I worked for the Columbus Catfish. I was the sales and marketing intern. That paid $500 a month so it wasn't a lot. It was fun though. I worked with a whole group of people in Columbus. We were a single-A team for the Dodgers my first year. They had just brought this entire staff down from Portland, Maine, to run this team. It was me, this southern Georgia girl, and a whole bunch of people from Maine. It was eye-opening, but good because Columbus is a fun little community with Fort Benning right there. That was my first job in baseball. I kind of wish I had worked as a concession person or something like that when I was growing up but that's when I started to go to college.
LD: What's your favorite thing about working for the Gwinnett Braves?
SD: I love working with the Gwinnett Braves because I'm a people person. For me, what my job allows me to do is build and maintain relationships. I think that's where I excel at and I just talk people's ears off. That's pretty much what I get to do every day and I love it because since I've been here for four years now so a lot of our season ticket holders, people you see (on a regular basis) you know so much about them. My partners are the same way. I have a really good partner in Georgia Power. I know everything about her daughter. Her daughter just graduated from my school. She calls me and tells me all these stories. There's something about that that kind of transcends baseball and you develop a friend that way.
LD: What is it like working with Chopper?
SD: Chopper is something else that's for sure. He does a great job. I think that's one of the great things about the Gwinnett Braves and minor league baseball is that you have a dynamic like that; a fun and a craziness kind of zaniness of minor league baseball. He encompasses all of that for us. Our players change from year-to-year, our staff members change from year, but Chopper is still Chopper. He'll always be out there beating his drum or his trashcan lid. Kids especially like it, too.