Stephen LaRochelle’s ’14 summer internship perfectly exemplifies the adage “do what you love and the money will follow.” LaRochelle, a history major and a first baseman on the Hamilton varsity baseball team, is working as a sports journalism intern with the Danbury Westerners of the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL).
The NECBL is a summer league for Division I baseball players and other professional baseball prospects, and the Danbury Westerners are the league’s oldest team. The NECBL, which is sponsored by the MLB and was managed in the 1990s by former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent, is considered to be second only to the Cape Cod Baseball League among all summer collegiate leagues in the U.S. The Westerners are run much like a Minor League Baseball franchise, but unlike the MiLB, the team is a non-profit enterprise, and as such, their internships are entirely unpaid. Fortunately, thanks to the generosity of the Jerome Gottlieb ’64 Fund, managed by Hamilton’s Career Center, LaRochelle received a stipend to support the position.
LaRochelle, who is a sports writer for the Hamilton College Spectator and has interned at the Manchester Journal Inquirer, is no stranger to sports journalism; however, this will be the first time he has exclusively covered baseball. The Westerners play six games a week on a 42 game schedule across all of New England, and as a traveling journalist, LaRochelle is expected to attend every game. Given the intensive nature of the internship, he remarked that “you need to have a passion for baseball to enjoy [the job]. I don’t think anyone who doesn’t love the game would be crazy enough to chase a baseball team all around New England.”
LaRochelle’s days usually begin between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. and do not end until 11 p.m. First he speaks with the coaches and players about the upcoming game, then assists staff in readying the ballpark. Once the game begins, he moves over to the press box to sit alongside various aspiring broadcasters. LaRochelle observed that he “wouldn’t be surprised to see some of [the broadcasters] on TV or hear them calling games on the radio in a few years.” “It’s inspiring,” he said, “to meet these [broadcasters] who travel with the team and work for free just to gain some experience in the industry.”
During the game, LaRochelle takes notes on the action around the park and updates statistics on the players, some of which go on to be referenced by professional scouts looking for recruits. He finishes his work by conducting postgame interviews with key players and coaches and then writes a story on the game. His articles are published on the Danbury Westerners website and the NECBL website. Many of the Danbury players are from the South or Western U.S., and LaRochelle emphasized the importance of the website for keeping players’ friends and family informed. This fact, along with the impressive local attendance at the Westerners’ games, gives LaRochelle “a sense of responsibility to write good stories because [he] knows that there are so many people who follow the team.”
While LaRochelle believes that this summer’s internship experience and bylines will help him to pursue future internships and jobs in sports journalism, he says that he’s reluctant to rule out other possible career paths. Sports journalism, he notes, is a very difficult field to break into, and his liberal arts degree in history opens doors to career paths in education and law as well. No matter what career path LaRochelle decides to pursue, it is clear that his strong writing skills and diverse liberal arts education will provide him with the tools necessary to succeed.
LaRochelle is a graduate of South Windsor High School (Conn.)