KENNESAW, Ga. | Nov 17, 2021
As students, faculty, staff and alumni celebrate the Atlanta Braves’ first World Series championship since 1995, some in the Kennesaw State University community got to see the dream season unfold up close. Here are their stories:
2020 KSU graduate, sport management
Truist Park grounds crew
Ryan Shillcutt started working for the Braves during the summer, literally at ground level. The December 2020 graduate earned his bachelor’s degree in sport management and applied for multiple positions with the Braves, ultimately accepting a job on the Truist Park grounds crew.
Originally from Woodstock and a lifelong Braves fan, Shillcutt said there was something special about primping the field for a World Series game, the franchise’s first since 1999.
“It didn't really quite hit me until I was walking into the stadium for the first World Series game. I was like ‘Wow, I'm here,’” he said. “People would give anything just to go to one of these games, and here I am, going to work on field level to help get everything ready before the game, work on the field during the game and then clean it up after the game — it was absolutely surreal.”
2019 KSU graduate, journalism and emerging media
Atlanta Braves pre-game and plaza host
As the host of the pre-game festivities in The Battery plaza at Truist Park, Kennesaw State alumnus Blake Eason attends nearly every Braves home game. However, the atmosphere in and around the stadium during the Braves’ playoff run was unlike anything he’d experienced before.
“You could feel this amazing energy and excitement that making it to the World Series was an accomplishment to be celebrated, but also the possibility that we could win it all,” said Eason, who also is a reporter, producer and weekday morning anchor with WRBL-TV in Columbus. “You knew how special this was for the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia.”
As a bonus, the Braves’ championship celebration fell on Eason’s 25th birthday. He rode atop one of the trucks in the team victory parade that led to a ceremony at the stadium, savoring every moment along the way.
“Having it all come together on my birthday, the running joke with my friends and family is that it’s pretty much all downhill from here,” Eason said, laughing. “I never could have dreamed any of this.”
Night Owl students
Mary Beth Gibbs – senior organizational and professional communication major
Evan Lowe – senior marketing major
Chidi Ogbuagu – master’s student in mechanical engineering
NLCS and World Series post-game ceremony volunteers
Christmas came early for Kennesaw State senior and avid Braves fan Mary Beth Gibbs. She was one of three student leaders from Night Owl — the student group that handles the day-to-day operations of Kennesaw State on-campus events — who worked two postseason Braves games at Truist Park.
Gibbs, Evan Lowe and Chidi Ogbuagu, along with nine staff members from KSU Event and Venue Management, volunteered on the crew that handled the logistics for the portable stage used for the post-game trophy presentation. They rolled out and set up the stage at the conclusion of game 6 of the National League Championship Series, when the Braves won the pennant, and were on hand for game 5 of the World Series in the event the Braves had clinched the title that night.
“For me, it was an absolute dream come true,” said Gibbs, the marketing lead for Night Owl. “I had told my parents that, if we made it to the World Series, all I wanted for Christmas was a ticket to game 5 of the World Series. Believe it or not, I got to go for free – with some work attached to it.”
– Paul Floeckher and Dave Shelles
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.