AKRON -- A summer internship working with the Akron Aeros' minor league baseball team may have sealed Tricia Rair's fate to pursue a career in the sports world.
But the University of Akron senior from Youngstown, a graduate of Chaney High where she was a cheerleader, already was heading in that direction before earning the internship's four credits that count toward her degree in communications.
"I knew that I wanted to stay with sports after working in the [Akron] football office the past four years," said Rair, who has almost a 3.0 grade-point average, and expects to graduate in December of 2002 with a double major in public relations and business organization.
"I've always had an interest in sports. I used to help Coach [Ron] Berdis at Chaney. He was probably my biggest influence second to my dad [Joe Rair, who died in July 1999]. He used to make the cheerleaders a big part of the program and that caught my interest right there."
Her Akron jobs: The daughter of Lana Rair, Tricia is in her fourth year of working in the Akron football office as a student secretary, doing general secretarial duties and helping out with recruits. She also is in her second year in the ticket office, and first year in the athletic director's office -- all paid jobs with some perks.
"I get free tickets for the [Akron] games. Usually coaches put me on their comp lists for some of the games. But I paid for the Ohio State tickets," said Rair, referring to the Zips-Buckeyes' game Saturday in Columbus that she will be attending with family and friends.
Joining Tricia will be her mother, brother Les Anderson and his friend, Vera Wheeler; aunt Marilyn Latell -- and roommates, the result of friendships.
"I met all my roommates by working in the football office," said Tricia.
Internship: Rair said she learned of the Aeros' internship through one of the courses she was taking.
"Actually, I took a public relations and entertainment course and my professor took us different places of entertainment and sports, and we went to the Aeros and that's where I first heard about it," said Rair, noting that her work with the team further increased her interest in a sports career.
"I was a game-day intern. I just showed up two hours before the game and stayed the whole game," said Rair. "We just helped with their promotions. We'd take kids on the field for contests. We took the mascots around, took players to picnics, worked in customer service setting up contests. We had different sponsors each game. We did the contests between innings."
Besides earning credits and experience, her other rewards were a lot of fun and some free tickets for the games.
"I was allowed four free tickets for every home game, so I was able to give tickets to my mom and friends to come up and see the game," said Rair, who has a different internship planned for next year although she is hoping to return to the Aeros in a regular job.
Next year's plan: "I have already set up an internship next summer with the sports information department at the university, and I will get four more credits doing that, starting next summer," said Rair. "The Aeros' games are at night, and I would do this in the morning and I would work with the Aeros at night."
Rair said Berdis paved the way for her to obtain her job in the Akron football office, which also opened other doors for her. She said Berdis treated the Chaney cheerleaders as part of the football program, and included them in team functions.
"We [had] spaghetti dinners every Thursday night before the games. We would decorate the players' locker room. We were always part of their banquet programs and pep assemblies. We would go to nursing homes with players over Christmas and sing Christmas carols," said Rair, a four-year cheerleader at Chaney who served as captain her senior year. She also was a three-year track performer.
Mom joins fun: Rair's mother also is enjoying her daughter's life and pursuits.
"I have gone to several games to see the Aeros," said Lana. "I love that ball field and I love to watch [Tricia] when she is doing field events." But, "She's not always on the field. Sometimes [she's in] customer service, fast-pitch [programs], etc."
Lana said that she "saw at least seven Aeros' games this season. What I like about the Aeros is the same thing I like about the Scrappers, which is the family can come and enjoy entertainment for a reasonable price. Plus, it is a gorgeous ball park and the atmosphere is just great. It's just a fun place."
Lana said Tricia has two cousins also in sports -- Randy Rair and John Latell. Rair played baseball for Ursuline High and now is a coach with the Irish baseball team. Latell played football for Girard High and the University of Findlay and now teaches and coaches at Girard High.