By Carla Morris
The story Panther offensive lineman Daniel Martinez â€™21 tells about scoring a coveted internship with the San Diego Padres began long before he knew about Major League Baseballâ€”in fact, long before he knew much about anything.
Daniel was just two years old when his father died. The youngest of three boys, he grew up in the shadow of family adversities with drugs and alcohol. Quiet by nature, Daniel dug into school as best he could and cultivated a passion for football.
He played all four years for San Pasqual High School in Escondido, California, but never as starter. An injury in his senior year dashed his hopes for playing ball in college.
â€œYou can understand why [college] coaches werenâ€™t so interested in a person like me,â€� he says.
A teacher encouraged Daniel to apply for a scholarship that went to student-athletes in San Diego County who had overcome difficulties associated with drugs or alcohol. Danielâ€™s compelling personal story in the form of a scholarship essay drew attention.
â€œNot just anybodyâ€™s attention,â€� he recalls. â€œbut the attention of the owner of the San Diego Padres.â€�
Ron Fowler, executive chairman of the ownership group of the San Diego Padres, established the Brad Fowler Memorial Scholarship in memory of his late son who battled with chemical dependency. By the time Danielâ€™s application made its way through the selection process, scholarships bearing Brad Fowlerâ€™s name had helped more than 90 young people.
Daniel was among the 2017 recipients. The initial $5,000 scholarship and subsequent $5,000 award for maintaining good academic standing landed the introvert in a world of new names and faces. He attended a luncheon for honorees on the field at Petco Park and took his turn at the podium.
â€œI did a lot of thanking,â€� he recalls.
The audience included fellow awardees, their families, members of the Padres organization and Ron Fowler.
â€œThe sponsors of the scholarship were there,â€� says Daniel. â€œCEOs and managers of sports teams. Coming out of high school, I didnâ€™t realize how important that was.â€�
Later, pursuing a major in sport management and a minor in digital media at Greenville University, the significance of that event really hit home. Daniel had never thought about networking and developing professional relationships before. Now, his desire for a meaningful internship trumped his fear of engaging strangers. The Padres was a good place to start.
Daniel initiated conversations, followed up conversations, called, messaged, and messaged again. He came to know administrative and executive assistants by name, as well as the head of human resources. He also continued conversations with Ron Fowler (at right, with Daniel).
â€œIâ€™m so glad I was so consistent with talking to them,â€� says Daniel.
He secured an interview for an internship opening and, with the help of GUâ€™s Coordinator of Career Services Kelli Pryor, threw himself into preparing for it.
Last June, Daniel assumed responsibilities as ballpark operations intern with the San Diego Padres. The summer stint entailed assisting seven departments in the Padresâ€™ organizationâ€”ballpark operations, event operations, groundskeeping, security, guest experience, ticket operations, and engineering.
â€œI had a taste of everything,â€� he recalls.
Conversations: the Building Blocks of Relationships
â€œEverythingâ€� included learning from other interns. Daniel, the youngest of 11 interns, worked closely with an intern who had previously served in the same capacity with the Boston Red Sox.
â€œShe had pictures of the World Championship. She even got a [championship] ring,â€� he says. â€œShe was a great person . . . very helpful.â€�
In fact, â€œvery helpfulâ€� describes many people Daniel encountered at Petco Park, even those in the unseen far reaches. The Padresâ€™ engineers are unsung heroes in Danielâ€™s book.
â€œThe engineers run the whole facility . . . The head engineer showed me that everything in the stadium is run through computer systemsâ€”water, lighting, air conditioning. There are timers on everything. They are very good about energy usage and recycling; they keep track of all their recycling and report it to the City of San Diego.”
Genuine Interest in How Things Work
Danielâ€™s genuine interest in details, persons and processes fueled conversations at every turn. He earned a reputation as an intern who makes the most of opportunities presented to him.
He faithfully attended â€œlunch-and-learnsâ€� and lingered afterward to learn more from people heâ€™d met. He discovered shared interests, like the time he and Erik Greupner, president of the Padresâ€™ business operations, talked about playing college football and life after college football.
He learned that Assistant General Manager Josh Stein began as an intern. He learned about internship opportunities with the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Rams.
Sharing Desires . . . People Want to Know
â€œI told my manager that I was interested in working with football in the future. She had two (NFL) contacts and told me to work on my resume and sheâ€™d send it out to them . . . I had phone calls with both teams. One said they would love to have me, and I should just apply.â€�
The scenario validated what Daniel had heard once in the Padresâ€™ human resources office: â€œThe Padresâ€™ internship alone puts you above others. When people see that on your resume, they are impressed.â€�
Daniel is not out to impress people, but he does look back on his journey with a sense of awe and gratitude.
â€œNever did I think Iâ€™d be as vocal as I am now,â€� he says, recalling his high school days. â€œI remember being the stupid freshman that didnâ€™t even know the playbook. I was super quiet and struggled to reach out to people.â€�
This fall, Daniel has assumed leadership positions both on the football field and as sports editor for The Papyrus, GUâ€™s student newspaper. He eagerly looks forward to more learning experiences in professional sports.
Daniel wishes to thank Ken Kawachi, Christian Mua, Kim Leth, and Roberto Castro â€œfor helping me grow throughout the internship experience and exposing me to many different aspects of the professional sports industry.â€�
He also thanks the Padres Human Resources team â€œbecause they played a big role when it came to networking.”
Last but not least, he thanks his fellow interns, especially Eddy Aiza and Mairead Scanlon, for their help. “I appreciated my interactions with all the interns and the friendships I made.”
Shown below, Daniel with his fellow 2019 San Diego Padres summer interns.
Teamwork and Experience Help Vanwey Land Coveted Internship With St. Louis Cardinals
The Panther-Cardinal Connection
St. Louis Blues Score Big as Job Shadow Hosts
Career Networking for the Beginner: What to Do When You Donâ€™t Know What to Do
Every day, Greenville University Financial Champions fund scholarships that make rich learning experiences possible for Daniel and others. Champion a student today. Thank you for giving.