Pasadena students were given the chance of a lifetime thanks to the Los Angeles Sparks WNBA team. Nine John Muir and one Pasadena High students were allowed to shadow administrators who exposed them to the entire front office operation of the Sparks for one week.
The purpose of the program is to show young people the administrative operations of a professional sports franchise.
"I thought this was a great thing. Having students coming work with us from high school that's awesome," says Aaron McLennan, Director of Finance for the LA Sparks. I told them that this is a cool opportunity. To be able to get into a corporate, professional sports world at high school age, that's unheard of and a unique opportunity."
Organizers of this first annual program where just as pleased because the Sparks staff embraced the young people. Although unpaid, the young people were thrilled with the opportunity.
Tori Williams, 17, John Muir High School, said, "This was a fun experience. I think the program should be continued and because of the program we got to ride the Gold line to work. Most of us had never road the train before."
Amid severe budget cuts within the Pasadena Unified School District and the City of Pasadena many summer youth programs were discontinued. Leaving a void of activities for the youth of Pasadena and Altadena.
"My goal was to meet Lisa," Leslie, says Elizabeth Aguilar, 16, of John Muir High School. "But I could not because she was busy preparing for the game and I was busy too."
"My goal was to complete any task they gave me," said Valente Felix, 16, of John Muir High School. He worked with the ticket sales and finance staff and his duties included inputting data for a LA Sparks contest.
According to Ishmael Trone,
Pasadena Community Organizer, the idea of the Sparks hosting a Pasadena Day was conceived during negotiations with Kristin Bernert, President of the Los Angeles Sparks, for the Jackie Robinson Celebration earlier this year.
Ishmael said, "This would showcase our youth and give them an opportunity to learn the behind the scenes operations of a professional sports franchise. I told Kristin that our kids need something to do during the summer. Because of cut backs I knew there would be nothing for these young people to do this summer. That included my 12-grade daughter Rhianna."
Ishmael and Kardia Pinckney, a youth coordinator, were able to convinced Kristin there is a real fan base in Pasadena for the Sparks. More importantly, the Sparks organization can impact the Pasadena community through the youth.
"We have tremendous role models and we wanted to take advantage of that and bring the City of Pasadena and the Sparks together with a first annual Pasadena Night,' says Kristin. "We expect to do it again next year. We were natural drawn to Pasadena because Coach Michael "Coop" is from there. Everyone from Pasadena has been so nice to us."
Next year organizers plan to put a process in place to select more students to participate in the program. Both parties agree the WNBA has many educational programs that could involve the Pasadena communities.
Richard Bentacourt and Xavier Higgs