The “Cardinal Way”
The St. Louis Cardinals have made four World Series appearances in the last decade, winning two of them. This historic franchise attracts some of the most talented employees from around the world, including at least six from a tiny college in western Massachusetts. We tracked some of them down to find out how they broke into the world of professional sports and if there truly is a “Cardinal Way.”
What was it about your Springfield College degree that got you where you are today?
Dan Vega, G’15, strength coach, Gulf Coast Cardinals: “The Springfield College name carries a lot of weight. It was very well known in the field of strength and conditioning. Anytime you go to a strength and conditioning conference, there’s always going to be a big representation of Springfield College alumni.”
Jordan Brown, G’16, strength coach, Johnson City Cardinals: “What’s great is that you have the classroom side but you also have the practical side, with the internships to learn what you don’t know, make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes. That’s what prepared me for the Cardinals interview.”
How hard is it to break into the professional sports business? What separated you from other applicants?
Frank Spinelli ’12, G’15, strength coach, State College Spikes: “The thing that helped me the most was not only having the degrees from Springfield College, but having a strong network from working with other great strength coaches in the field.”
Trevor Morris, G’08, equipment manager, Memphis Redbirds: “I’ve found that getting into professional sports isn’t the hard part, it’s staying in the sports world that is difficult. With the high turnover in professional sports, especially in minor leagues, it’s your reputation that keeps you going. I feel it’s been my work ethic and ability to adapt and learn from everyday situations that not only separated myself from others in the beginning, but is what keeps me in this industry as well.”
What is the best part about working with the Cardinals?
Morris: “They have a unique way of pinpointing the right talent for their organization, whether it’s a player, staff member, front office personnel, and even the clubhouse managers. They know exactly what they are looking for. There really is something to the famed ‘Cardinal Way.’”
Barry Weinberg ’73, senior medical advisor: “The World Series wins; being a part of that success. Plus it’s just a great baseball town and the people get behind you.”
Spinelli: “There are so many different styles of coaches who are supportive and work together to form a great program for all of our athletes.”
What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
Morris: “Never be satisfied with what you are doing. The moment you settle, you stop learning and adapting and someone else will come along and pass you.”
Brown: “Eyes open, mouth shut. It means make sure you observe everything and understand the culture you’re in before you start throwing your ideas out there. I take that approach everywhere I go.”
What is something you learned at Springfield College that you use every day?
Vega: “I thought there was one, cookie-cutter way to be a strength and conditioning coach: be the yelling-and-disciplinary guy. I learned it’s okay to develop my own personality as a coach. I can be myself and still be a great coach and impact my players.”
Weinberg: “The importance of networking. If an applicant went to Springfield College and I know the references, they almost don’t even need a resume.”