Chasing dreams

Steve Sampsell
August 17, 2016

(Editor’s Note: This is the 12th in a series of stories about College of Communications students completing summer internships.)

As 16 teams from around the world converge on Williamsport, Pennsylvania, for the Little League World Series this week and next, a Penn State student will play a vital role in how thousands of people connect with and get information about the competition.

Junior journalism major Mandy Bell helps coordinate social media efforts for Little League International as part of a summer internship. What people see from Little League on Facebook and Instagram often comes from her contributions.

Throughout the summer, Bell’s creative efforts and research have resulted in posts about the Little League roots of major league players as well as sponsor-related content. She has been challenged creatively and embraced analytics and data as vital ways to understand the impact of social media as Little League works to engage its audience.

In addition to her social media duties — and especially the next couple of weeks during the Little League World Series — her work has encompassed almost every aspect of communications for the organization.

“It’s basically anything that needs done. Earlier in the summer we had a celebrity golf event and there was also the opportunity to do some shadowing for video work,” Bell said. “We’ve had calls from coaches of international leagues and there was even editing some papers.

“On social media specifically, I expected to be involved and be a part of things and that's been the case. It’s something different every day, which is great. It’s also great that they trust me enough to put information out there for people to see. I’m not sure I expected all that freedom, so it has been very rewarding.”

Bell has earned that trust by proving herself with her passion and preparation. She has been preparing for a career in baseball for years and this summer internship with Little League is an important step in that process. She found out about the opportunity from the Office of Internships and Career Services in the College of Communications and reached out to Little League after an email about the position was sent to students in the spring.

She brought a wealth of experience to the role. At Penn State, she serves as co-sports director of ComRadio, the internet-based radio station housed in the College of Communications. She’s also a student feature writer for GoPSUSports.com.

She was amassing experience long before she arrived at Penn State. At Chambersburg High School she embraced many opportunities to communicate. “We had to take a public speaking class, and I was one of the only ones who was excited rather than dreading it,” she said. “Later in high school I did the morning announcements. I loved being out there like that, and baseball has been my passion and I love working with kids so it seemed like a perfect match.”

An opportunity early in the summer was especially rewarding. Little League’s charity golf outing featured a couple key guests, former Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer and New York Yankees legend Chris Chambliss. For Bell, meeting Chambliss — even though she was born years after his career ended — was special.

Likewise, a Little League picnic for employees earlier this summer was conducted on hallowed ground at Howard J. Lamade Stadium, the iconic home of the Little League World Series.

“It’s the most perfect field you could ever imagine,” she said. “I grew up playing (softball) at so many complexes and it’s just a special place. It’s not only that it’s on TV, it’s just so well-maintained. And we’re going into the time of year when it’s used the most.”

Along with playing softball for years, Bell is a die-hard New York Yankees fan with a passion to someday work as an on-field reporter covering the team. The summer position with Little League has opened up other possibilities. Her primary focus remains building a career as an on-field reporter covering the Yankees, but the internship has helped her appreciate the many roles in baseball that exist for someone who has passion and skills … like her.

The full-time communications department for Little League includes about a dozen and a half people. While the pace of things was a bit slower in June and early July, activity has certainly picked up in recent weeks and will reach an even more intense level the next couple of weeks.

“There will be hundreds of people, volunteers in all kinds of roles, who make things work during the World Series. I understand it’s much different than earlier in the summer, and that’s exciting,” Bell said. “People are really excited. You can sense it, and it’s a fun vibe.”

For Bell, the daughter of Penn State alumni Rich and Susie Bell, and who attended Penn State football games with a variety of family members and friends starting when she was in elementary school, the entire internship has been fun. Her family and friends have been supportive throughout, which has heightened her enthusiasm.

She even appreciates the daily commute from her apartment in State College to Little League headquarters in South Williamsport. At the start of the summer, her Chevy Equinox had about 8,000 miles on the odometer. As the World Series begins, she has amassed more than 18,000 miles.

“It’s an easy drive,” she said. “It’s not a problem.”

In that way, her can-do, positive approach mirrors that of one of her favorite baseball players, former New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter. She used a quote from Jeter on Little League’s social media accounts that proved popular earlier this summer.

She can recite the quote by heart: “There may be people that are more talented than you are but there is no excuse for anyone who works harder than you do.”

And, as Bell has proven this summer, she can also put the quote into practice. 

Last Updated August 24, 2016