Umbrellas, Darts and a Whole Lot of Brains

Yep, umbrellas inside the building. Not the small umbrella you carry with you when it rains, we are talking the big patio umbrellas you use. We have one in the Development Department at Pro Athlete. Programmers don’t always like lights, so when some of the people in the section do, something has to give. Or one person just got resourceful and went and brought in a huge umbrella to keep his workstation dark. This is just one example of the type of things we see from our Programmers at Pro Athlete.

They are one of the most crucial parts of our team as they help us build, maintain and grow our websites and internal applications. They truly are the brains behind our operation and we are so thankful to have them. Traditionally you would think that a group of Programmers wouldn’t really care to work at a company called Pro Athlete because they might not be interested in sports. Maybe some are, maybe some aren’t, but we don’t care. They fit our Core Values and that is what matters most.

So what is it like to be a Programmer at Pro Athlete? Well, why don’t we let some of our team tell you?

The Perfect (Vino) Pair

Creating a positive and interactive company culture is something that we care deeply about at Pro Athlete, Inc. A perfect example occurred last night; we hosted one of our annual Delish! Events for our employees and their guests to attend. We host Delish! events throughout the year to build on the relationships within Pro Athlete via food and drink.

Last night Pro Athlete Alumni member Mike Kearns and his wife Mindy shared their story of Vino Pair. It’s through this new business venture that Mike and Mindy hope to solve the 21st-century problem of what food and wine to pair together.

But this wasn't your typical wine tasting. Mike and Mindy were clear that when it comes to pairing foods with wine, you need to start with the basics and slowly add in different types and tastes of food. Not only did the wine and food combinations pair perfectly (sort of like bats and gloves), but everyone learned the importance of the order in which you pair the two.

Several employees joined Mike and Mindy, along with our very own Chef Nathan, as they sampled some of Vino’s best hand-selected wines and food pairings. These events help to encourage our employees to bring in their families to enjoy and savor the moments and the memories that we create at Pro Athlete, Inc.

To learn more about Mike & Mindy’s #PairAndShare adventure head on over to their website: https://www.vinopair.com

Pro Athlete Employees’ Dedication to Wellness Pays Off Again

We were fortunate to once again be recognized as the Healthiest Company in Kansas City by the KC Biz Journal for companies our size. It’s an amazing accomplishment and a true testament to our Core Value of Creating a Healthy Work Environment.

The point of this post isn’t to talk about the recognition of this award for our company. If you want to read more about that, you can check it out on the Biz Journal website.The point of this post is to recognize and thank the true people behind this award. That is our awesome employees!

When you attend the awards banquet for Healthiest Employers or read about it in the Biz Journal, it’s really great to hear about the cool things that companies are doing, but it’s even better to hear the success stories of the employees. The person who did biometric screenings at his company and found something that didn’t look quite right, and that in turn lead to saving his life. The person who was struggling with smoking and the company wellness program really helped push that person to quit the habit. Or how about the person who wanted to lose weight to feel better about themselves each day and the wellness program at her company gave her the opportunity to do that. That’s what it’s all about.

People always ask us “how much money do you save on your premiums by doing all this wellness stuff?” That question has quite frankly really started to wear us out because that’s not what this is all about. It’s not about how much money you save, it’s about how many lives you save or change for the better. The money savings is a factor, but for us it’s nowhere near the most important.

We are most proud of the movement around Kansas City and the world that we have been fortunate to be a part of over the past couple years. A movement where businesses use the influence they have in the world and put it to good use for the people who put it on the line for them everyday. There isn’t a better feeling than that.

Congratulations to the other companies recognized and more so, congratulations to the employees of those companies. It’s awesome to be part of such a great community dedicated to wellness.

In closing, thank you to the Pro Athlete employees and their families who are a part of this as well. You deserve all the credit for this accomplishment and the everlasting imPAct it will have on the Kansas City community.

There's Truly No Place Like Home

We recently received some sad news. One of our Alumni members decided she didn’t want to be part of the Alumni group anymore. We were hurt at first until we realized she didn’t want to be in the program anymore because she wanted to come back to work at Pro Athlete.

Whereas other companies might be hesitant to re-embrace former employees, we welcome grand slam culture fits who are great at their job. It was a no-brainer to bring her back. Check out this Q/A session with Tessa, our newest returning Pro, and find out why she considers Pro Athlete home.

When did you first start at Pro Athlete?

Tessa: I first started back in 2012 as a Seasonal Warehouse Associate. I worked in the distribution center packing and shipping bats and gloves.

How did you find out about Pro Athlete?

Tessa: My parents told me I had to find a job after college and so I was looking for basketball coaching jobs and because Pro Athlete has a basketball court it came up in the search results on Craigslist.

What did you think when you first walked around the Pro Athlete office?

Tessa: I was fresh of out college, I was trying to figure out what I was going to do, and walking around Pro Athlete and the facility it...it just felt like home.

Why did you leave?

Tessa: I left for a new job, I moved out of state to pursue another opportunity, and it seemed like a great opportunity and it was. But it wasn't home.

I missed Pro Athlete. I missed Kansas City and so, I mean, I came back. I obviously came back to Pro Athlete for a reason.

What’s your favorite perk?

Tessa: Honestly, I enjoy the overall sports environment. As a former athlete, just being able to walk around seeing the Sport Court, the weight room, all of the amenities. It doesn’t feel like, “work.”

What makes Pro Athlete feel like home?

Tessa: The people. Honestly, our administration, Scott (the owner), they’re all so great. They make it so easy to feel like we’re part of the family. And because of that, it doesn't seem like work.

Once a Pro, Always a Pro!

Super Bowl Ushers in Busy Season at Pro Athlete, Inc.

Super Bowl Sunday is a lot of things to a lot of people. Food, drinks, commercials, halftime show, the culmination of a long football season and many more. It’s all those things to Pro Athlete employees, but it’s also the event that ushers out football and ushers in the start of the baseball season.

Around here we call it our busy season and we are always very excited when it comes around each year. It marks the beginning of the season where we can help put a bat or glove in the hands of kids all around the country. We all remember the excitement that we experienced when we were kids when baseball season was upon us. For most people, that feeling unfortunately goes away as you grow up and get away from the game. For those who work at Pro Athlete, we get to relive that joy from our childhood in a new found way that brings about the same type of excitement.

Thanks to all our amazing customers out there, our business starts to pick up around this time and employees around here start taking their games to another level to provide amazing customer service. It’s really a great time to be here.

A lot of hard work goes into the slow season in terms of projects. We use that time to improve in any areas we were lacking in the season before. It’s very similar to the life of a baseball player. You might take time during the offseason to develop a new pitch or change your stance. We aren’t too different with our approach here. In the end it’s all about giving our customers the chance to make life-long memories with the bat or glove we send them. If we can do that consistently, we feel like we’ve hit a home run.

If this is a place you want to work, you might as well start learning now that the Super Bowl is awesome, but the real fun starts the next day!

Here’s to an awesome busy season for our employees and customers!

 

Why We Focus on Results, Not Work.

One of our Core Values at Pro Athlete is Focus on Results, Not Work. We often don’t care how you get somewhere, just that you get there. After all, things happen in everyday life for everyone and it’s important for us to allow our employees the time to take care of those things.

People get sick, people have appointments, kids have baseball games and people take vacations. We want our employees to be able to do those things hassle free. It was a few years ago we came up with an idea to give all salary employees Unlimited PTO. We realized that not one single time in the history of our company did we tell someone they couldn’t take PTO. So instead of making the employees always ask to take off and have them fearing what we might say, just empower them. Trust that they are taking off for a good reason and that they will still get the results.

Since rolling the program out a few years ago, we have seen a lot of great things come out of it. Employees are more empowered than ever to manage their time and there is no chance they will miss their child’s next game winning hit or diving catch in the outfield. And that’s what it’s truly all about.

Most companies think they have to use some traditional way of managing PTO so the employees don’t take advantage of the company. Just think for a second how crazy that sounds. You don’t trust your employees? Why did you hire them if you can’t trust them? We aren’t saying the way we do it is the best, but it definitely works for our employees. In the end, that’s what really counts. 

Gettin’ Our Hustle On.

We were very fortunate last week to have our good friends and awesome KC company, Charlie Hustle, at our office for a couple days of team meetings. Two of our Core Values at Pro Athlete are Embrace Stewardship and Create a University Setting. These seemed very fitting this past week because we were able to help out a fellow KC company and by doing that, we were actually able to learn a ton of valuable information. People ask us why we let other companies come up and use our space. We say, “why would we not?” It’s an opportunity to get to meet some awesome people and in turn we get a chance to learn how they do business. Charlie Hustle came here to learn a bit about us, but we will always be thankful to them for what they taught us in just a few days. 

We even got a chance to hear from Royals General Manager Dayton Moore and Fox Sports KC Broadcaster Joel Goldberg. We also got to hang out with Matt Besler from Sporting KC. All because we let another company come up and use our facility. It was the right thing to do for us and we were just happy that Charlie Hustle allowed us to be part of something this cool. 

Our society is conditioned to always expect something in return for doing someone a favor. We get asked that all the time when we do things like this or give time or money to an organization. People want to know what the catch is or what we will get in return. If you want to be part of our team at Pro Athlete, you never expect anything in return for doing the right thing. We strongly believe that if you do the right thing everything else will take care of itself. This held true for this event. We allowed Charlie Hustle to use our facility and we were able to listen to some amazing speakers. We didn’t expect it or deserve it, but it was a great thing for sure.  A special thanks to Charlie Hustle for an amazing experience. We learned so much and got an inside look at what is truly behind the “heart” of KC!

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Pitch In - Our Guide To Giving Back

Embrace Stewardship is a Core Value at Pro Athlete, and therefore, we expect every employee to be involved in giving back to our community, to organizations or causes that are important to them and those in need. It is for those reasons why we have a Charity Program that offers each employee a generous Charity Allotment each year. We do this as opposed to the company deciding on a couple charities to donate to as a whole each year to empower each and teach them about the power of giving. We hope each employee embraces it and carries it with them, and those close to them, throughout their lives. 

In 2016, Pro Athlete and it's employees donated over $45,000 to 90 different charities. Please, take some time to read about the charities that our employees chose to donate towards throughout 2016.

Resolutions Vs. Lifestyle. Why January is just as important as June.

Part-Time Logistics Associate, Derek working out in the weight room as apart of his daily lifestyle.
System Administrator, Mike working out in the weight room as apart of his daily lifestyle.

The New Year.  This is the time you get to wipe the slate clean and reset all of the unhealthy habits you’ve created from the year before and begin a “new you.”  Right?  What if we told you statistically that almost never works?  The thought of resetting and starting clean can be a euphoric feeling.  Visions of massive weight loss, healthier eating, storming the castle doors (ok I made that one up) are on the minds of millions of Americans at the start of every year.  So why is the success rate for these “restarts” so low?  

 

Maybe one word covers that question: Lifestyle.  

 

These lofty goals can be accomplished by anyone, but if you don’t make it a lifestyle and habit change throughout the ENTIRE year, your following year will just be another reset.  Then you end up in this endless pattern of failure that you may not realize you’re setting yourself up for.

Here at Pro Athlete we’ve learned that in order for us to achieve our goals, something has to change at the core of ourselves.  Call it intrinsic motivation.  We understand that January is just as important as June.  When you wake up everyday and part of your daily lifestyle is working toward that goal without extrinsic motivation or a reset button, the chances of success are massive.  We are seeing that at Pro Athlete everyday.  Health goals are met throughout the entire year.  And we’ve come to understand that Lifestyle is more important than Resolutions.  We are creating new habits and applying them everyday, so that when January is here, it’s just another month of working toward a healthier lifestyle.


Work toward your goals everyday this year.  Create new healthy habits that lead to a lifestyle change.  So that when January rolls around next year, it’s just another month of a better you.

 

Cheers to a great 2017!

 

2016: Our Year In Review.

It’s always fun around this time of year to look back and reflect. Like most companies, we had our fair share of up and downs this year, but we also were able to create a lifetime of great memories together.

For our last blog post of the year, we challenge you to really look at the highlights for Pro Athlete for 2016 and even more importantly, look at the big picture of what we are trying to accomplish here. On the surface, it looks like we are trying to sell more bats and gloves than anyone in country, and that is absolutely true, but not the entire story. We believe we are striving for much deeper things in addition to our goal of selling bats and gloves.


We started this blog as a way to give anyone interested in Pro Athlete, some insight into what we are all about. So, if you are someone who wants to join the team or work with us in some form or fashion, look deep into our 2016 highlights and ask yourself if what we stand for aligns with what you stand for. We believe that this thing everyone else calls "work", should be fun and we believe in creating a good, good life for anyone associated. Enjoy the 2016 recap!

All Pro Athlete Employees Ship for the Holidays

No matter where our business takes us or what new exciting things we do, we will always owe it all to our customers. They are the reason we get up everyday and the reason we are so lucky to work at a cool company. It can be hard for certain positions  in the company to see how their work directly affects the customer, so last year we took measures to make sure they never forget.

Last year we started requiring every person in the company, even the CEO, to spend a couple days during the holiday season in our warehouse shipping out products. Feedback from the team was great, so we brought it back for 2016 and will continue to do it. At a lot of companies, employees might lose sight of this, but at Pro Athlete, that will never happen. If there was ever any question of the impact you are having as an employee who is shipping bats to customers, we remind you just how impactful that is with a diagram at each shipping station. See below. You aren’t just shipping out bats, you are giving a kid joy during Christmas, or something to brag about at school on their birthday or a game winning hit to win the championship. 

At Pro Athlete, we believe we are doing something much greater than what it might seem like on the surface. It’s inspiring and rewarding to know we are able to have a positive impact on our customers around the country. We owe everything to our customers. We are, and will always be their biggest fans!

Here's a photo of the exact shipping system that all of our employees follow when shipping to ensure that every order is on time, every time, exactly as promosed.  

Here's a photo of the exact shipping system that all of our employees follow when shipping to ensure that every order is on time, every time, exactly as promosed.  

Making it’s debut, the Pro Athlete Hall of Fame.

In sports, getting inducted into the Hall of Fame is the absolute highest honor that any athlete could achieve. Now at Pro Athlete, we can say the same thing. Being inducted into the Pro Athlete Hall of Fame is the absolute highest honor that anyone associated with Pro Athlete could achieve.

For the past year we have been dedicating time and resources to better capture our history in different ways. We’ve hunted down old models of significant bats to tell a story, we’ve hired a Memory Officer who is in charge of capturing photos and videos for us each day, and we even went so far as to build a Hall of Fame. Included in the Hall of Fame is a detailed company timeline and an area dedicated to those who have made significant contributions to Pro Athlete over the years.

Hall of Fame Plaques & Company Timeline

Hall of Fame Plaques & Company Timeline

Our inaugural class consisted of thirteen amazing individuals from the original founders to sales reps and vendors that never actually worked here to our business coaches and to former employees. We honored this outstanding group of people with a ceremony on Saturday December 10th at our office. We conducted a ceremony where we shared stories about each inductee and then allowed them some time to speak about the honor they were receiving.

Hall of Fame Ceremony Emcee - Rex Hudler

Hall of Fame Ceremony Emcee - Rex Hudler

We really wanted the ceremony to key on how passionate and dedicated these thirteen people were, and still are to Pro Athlete. So we set out to find someone who could emcee our event that knew a little something about passion and energy. There was one obvious choice in Kansas City for this job. Enter Fox Sports Kansas City announcer Rex Hudler. Did he ever knock it out of the park. He was a fan favorite and added that energy that the inductees and the ceremony deserved. We want to thank Rex for volunteering to do this for us.

The day concluded with all Pro Athlete employees, alumni, and the Hall of Fame inductees heading downtown for our annual Holiday Party. This year the great folks at No Other Pub took care of us. All in all, it was an amazing day and really fun to look back at how much those thirteen individuals have contributed to our business.

Around here, we call our employees Pros, and we have a saying “Once a Pro, Always a Pro.” We strongly believe that each person that comes here to work is a friend for life whether they work here forever or leave to pursue another endeavor.  A lot of companies might be upset if someone leaves to pursue a dream, but we strongly support that and will do our best to help that person succeed. We also encourage employees to use us as a springboard if they want. Don’t we owe that to our employees who do so much for us? Why would you ever hold someone back from trying to get where they want to go? We don’t do that here, and this weekend was a reminder that whether you are here your whole life or you come and then go on to do other things, that your impact will always be felt.

Now, each day that you walk through our hallways, you will be reminded of the hard work of those enshrined in our Hall of Fame. And those who are so fortunate to be inducted can always say they were an integral part of something very special. #HOF2016

Class of 2016 Members: Clint D., Mark C., Norm S., Mike K.

Class of 2016 Members: Clint D., Mark C., Norm S., Mike K.

Embracing Stewardship This Holiday Season

As we officially enter the first few days of December we’re constantly reminded of the sights and the sounds of the holiday season. Too often, we get caught up in our own hustle and bustle of the holiday season to stop and think about those who can’t financially provide for their family this holiday season.

Over the weekend, several members of the Pro Athlete team met up at the local Toys R Us and went on a shopping spree benefiting Toys for Tots for the seventh year in a row! Employee’s and their families picked up this season’s latest and greatest toys ranging from bicycles, star wars legos, guitars, train sets, kitchen sets, and more!

It’s one of our company core values that we, “Embrace Stewardship” and earlier this morning we did just that. Pro Athlete employees receive a yearly monetary amount to donate to a charity of their choice and this year, employees donated a total of $4,250.29!

 

Toys for Tots is a not-for-profit organization run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve where they distribute toys to children whose parents and guardians cannot afford to buy the gifts for Christmas. You can log on and learn more at http://www.toysfortots.org/

Be Thankful “The greatest feeling in the world is to win a major league game. The second greatest feeling is to lose a major league game.” — Chuck Tanner

One of our twelve Core Values is “Be Thankful”, and we can’t think of a better time of year to highlight it in our blog than Thanksgiving. We take pride in treating our employees like royalty because they quite simply deserve it. They are one of the main reasons that we are all so fortunate to come in to work here everyday. One of the main reasons they deserve to be treated like royalty is their thankfulness. It’s something that could easily be taken for granted, but that’s not the case here. Being thankful can come in so many forms and fashions and we get a chance to see it everyday. If you are interested in working at Pro Athlete, being thankful should come natural to you and bring you joy and excitement when you display thankfulness. We look for this in all of our candidates and anyone who displays it will have a much better chance of joining the team.

One other key part to our commitment to being thankful revolves around some very key groups for our business. We are so fortunate to get to do what we do everyday, and none of that would be possible without the help from our customers, employees, vendors and lenders. These four groups are the backbone to helping us be successful and we are thankful for their contributions everyday.

With Thanksgiving tomorrow, we challenge you to dig deep and really think about all the things you are thankful for in your life and your business. It’s a great exercise to practice throughout the whole year, but even more magnified tomorrow.

In closing, Pro Athlete would like to thank all of our customers, employees, vendors and lenders for helping us get to where we are today. We also want to thank anyone who is reading this blog because that means you found value in following our company and we appreciate that so much.

Check out this “thank you” video we recently sent to our customers.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Pro Athlete, Inc.!

Getting On Base at Pro Athlete: How To Get Noticed

Most job seekers are constantly trying to figure out a way to “stand out” and get noticed during the application process. Traditionally that would mean polishing up your resume and trying to describe your value to an organization on a piece of paper. While this might be effective for some companies, at Pro Athlete, we hire for culture first and skills second every time. A resume is important in the process, but here we don’t care as much about how you helped decrease company expenses from x to x nearly as much as we care about the last thing you did for continuous learning or the last time you volunteered for a charitable organization. We care most about how well you would fit into our culture and what you could do to enhance it.

We strive to create a one-of-a kind facility that provides our employees with a workplace that feels like a home away from home. Pictured above are two of our employee's playing a quick game of Ping-Pong in the middle of their day.  

We strive to create a one-of-a kind facility that provides our employees with a workplace that feels like a home away from home. Pictured above are two of our employee's playing a quick game of Ping-Pong in the middle of their day.  

Standing out is important, but fitting in is the most important thing for us. If you want to know how to get your foot in the door here, send us examples (videos and pictures are great) of yourself living out our Core Values. And don’t bother with fake or disingenuous attempts to do this because you will stick out like a sore thumb if Core Value alignment doesn’t come natural for you. We’ve found that sometimes our Core Values don’t align completely with potential applicants, that’s ok, we just weren’t meant to work together. You will probably go on to do amazing things for a company that has similar values to you, and that is great for everyone involved.

>>> Our Core Values are the driving force behind how we do business.

We strive to live out our Core Values every single day. >>>

If you think you pass the Core Value alignment test, then the next step is to show us that you can bring something to our team that we don’t have or can’t live without. At Pro Athlete you can create your own position and your path yourself. So why not start creating it before you are even hired? That would be a pretty amazing first impression!

We are always looking to improve our team with new members and A Players, even if we don’t have current openings listed. We strongly encourage anyone who is interested to submit an application to get into our pipeline. We also have a section on our website entitled “Stay Connected” where you can sign up to be alerted of any pertinent company news or job openings before the public. It’s also a great chance for you to take a deeper look at who we are and make sure we are a good fit for you.

Members of our team enjoying a complimentary lunch in the Ballpark Bistro. All of our employee's receive both breakfast and lunch on us each weekday. Meals are provided and made fresh each day by our in-house Chef, Nathan. 

Members of our team enjoying a complimentary lunch in the Ballpark Bistro. All of our employee's receive both breakfast and lunch on us each weekday. Meals are provided and made fresh each day by our in-house Chef, Nathan. 

So in closing, here are a few other important things we look for in anyone who wants to join our team:

  • Genuine Curiosity

  • Drama Free

  • Have Your Teammates' Backs

  • Desire to Have Fun at Work (we hate calling it work, it’s too fun to call it that)

  • Passion to Be Part of Something Much Bigger Than a Typical Job

We don’t claim to have the perfect company, but we do have the perfect people for our company, and that will never change. So, if you think you fit in, don't just wait on the bench, step up to the plate and get connected with us today. You never know, the next game winning moment for our company might just start with you!

Sports central: Local companies fill a lively niche.

Pro Athlete Inc. is an e-commerce company located just south of Kansas City International Airport. The web-based business specializes in selling baseball bats, softball bats and gloves. “We don’t manufacture anything, (but) in our warehouse we have every bat and every glove that’s made,” says chief executive Scott Hedrick. “We are the largest online dealer of bats. We sell Louisville sluggers, Rawlings.” The company is at 10800 N. Pomona Ave. in Kansas City, North. Photo By: Keith Myers kmyers@kcstar.com Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/community/joco-913/article104170046.html#storylink=cpy

Pro Athlete Inc. is an e-commerce company located just south of Kansas City International Airport. The web-based business specializes in selling baseball bats, softball bats and gloves. “We don’t manufacture anything, (but) in our warehouse we have every bat and every glove that’s made,” says chief executive Scott Hedrick. “We are the largest online dealer of bats. We sell Louisville sluggers, Rawlings.” The company is at 10800 N. Pomona Ave. in Kansas City, North. Photo By: Keith Myers kmyers@kcstar.com


Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/community/joco-913/article104170046.html#storylink=cpy

Note: This blog post is an excerpt from the Kansas City Star and KansasCity.com

Kansas City is a sports town, and it’s also chock-full of businesses that make the sports world tick.

Some of those companies are recognized instantly for their expertise and excellence in the sports world. Architectural firms such as Populous, HOK and HNTB build facilities, and companies like Garmin and Bushnell provide products.

But there are many names that are not at the forefront, though some of their creations are highly recognizable, such as the Hy-Vee Fan Zone at Arrowhead Stadium. Other companies aren’t well-known locally, but their work appears on the national and international sports stage including the revamped Bowl Championship Series for NCAA Division I football and the Olympics.

Then there are managers and agents who help professional athletes with money management and business opportunities.

Despite their behind-the-scenes roles, many companies are flourishing by supporting various aspects of the sports world.

Full Article: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/community/joco-913/article104170046.html

Why wouldn't you jump out of a perfectly good airplane?

It's been a whirlwind of a week at Pro Athlete and for some more than others. On Monday, a few members of the Pro Athlete team took their adrenaline and bravery to new heights at they went skydiving and parachuted their way back to ground with our friends at Falcon Skydiving. At Pro Athlete, it's clear that we're not your traditional workplace. We put in the work and we reap the rewards with fun and exciting outings like this. Maybe skydiving isn't for you? There's always something new and exciting happening at Pro Athlete and the more fun we have the more likely you are to hear about it.  

Alumni Spotlight: Tommy Hottovy, Director of Run Prevention

At Pro Athlete, we love our alumni about as much as we love our customers. So, when former Wichita State pitcher and employee, Tommy Hottovy, made it to The Show, we were ecstatic.

Now, Tommy Hottovy has the perfect 21st-century baseball occupation: Director of Run Prevention for the Chicago Cubs.

For Hottovy's part, the Chicago Cubs have allowed the least amount of run in all of MLB this year. Recently, we caught up with former MLB pitcher, Pro Athlete alum, andCubs' Director of Run Prevention for a Q&A.

What exactly does Director of Run Prevention for the Chicago Cubs entail?

Officially, my title is Coordinator of Advance Scouting, and my main focus is on run prevention, which encompasses anything that helps prevent the other team from scoring runs. My daily responsibilities are pretty extensive, as I do a lot for the game that day, as well as prep work for the upcoming teams we will see. But, my main responsibilities are breaking down the opposing hitters and working with our coaching staff to determine our plan of attack, coordinating all of our defensive positionings, and communicating with the coaching staff that will be positioning the players during the game to make sure we are all on the same page.

Also, I'm in charge of making notes on the opposing offense in general and things they like to do specifically during the game (i.e. when they run, situational hitting, bunting, etc.), and communicating with any Pro Scouts we have in the field to make sure our plan is on the right track with what they may be seeing in a short look before our series.

What is the best part of your job?

By far the best part of my job is getting to work directly with the players and staff and have an immediate impact on the game that night. If I am breaking down a hitter, and we decide we want to pitch a guy a certain way (i.e. we want to start him with a curveball in his second at-bat) and he gets a hit or if we decide to play a shift on a hitter, and he hits against the shift in a big part of the game, I have to be able to answer for the decisions we make. Luckily, we have a great group of guys, and we have created an environment where communication flows constantly. Very rarely is there a time where the pitcher or player is not informed with what we want to do, pitching or positioning wise, and in the end, the players see how much time and effort goes into every game, and every series and you earn their trust as the season goes on.

What is the toughest part of the job?

Without question, the toughest part of my job are the deadlines. We are constantly working on a three-day deadline. Most of the time I am working on two teams at the same time, the daily communication and strategy for the team we are playing, as well as all the prep work, reports, and positioning for the team we are about to play. The minute one team finishes the next team begins, so there is very little down time during the season.

Why do you think sabermetrics is important to the future of baseball?

To me, it's the same reason data analysis is to any company. It is an integral part of the future success of an organization. Technically, everyone has access to the same data, which is an insane amount. Ultimately, the collection, interpretation, and distribution/communication of the data are what separates one team from the next. You can have all the data in the world, but if you can't sift through it, find what is pertinent not only to the team as a whole but also to the individual player, and then be able to translate that information into a language that the recipient understands (which in some cases is actually a different language), then you won't be successful and in some cases, the data could actually be a hinderance.

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My ultimate goal, and what I feel the most important role sabermetrics will play in the future of baseball, is to find the right balance between all of these aspects. So, in the end, when the game is on the line, the player feels 100% comfortable with any situation they could potentially see on the field.

Are there any aspects of your job that youth and high school teams could or should adopt?

Without question. What I tell most high school or youth teams that I talk to is that it is hard to gather much pertinent information on opposing players because you just don't see them enough, and the sample sizes are pretty low. What you can do, though, is gather information and tendencies of your players to help come up with game plans. For example, each pitcher should have their spray chart of where hitters hit the ball off them, not just where that hitter himself hits the ball, which can help tailor a defense to what a specific pitcher likes to do.

There are pretty standard defenses you can run that data has proven over the course of baseball history that can be baseline defenses for a team to run and then make adjustments off of depending on any pitcher/hitter tendencies that you may see.

What did you enjoy the most about working for JustBats.com and Pro Athlete, Inc.?

Obviously, I was very fortunate to get to work with some amazing people, and I cherish the interactions and conversations I had with all of them on a daily basis. But, the thing I enjoyed the most working for Pro Athlete was the freedom, encouragement, and opportunities they give every employee to grow professionally, not only in their daily activities but for their future endeavors, as well.

Pro Athlete Inc. thanks Tommy Hottovy for taking the time to answer some questions and, of course, wishes him continued success in his career with the Chicago Cubs. If you have any questions on baseball bats or softball bats, give the Pros at JustBats a call at (866) 321-2287. Who knows, you might be talking to a future MLB player.