Mike Robinson has held a full-time position within the Reading Fightin Phils front office for the last 14 seasons. Now entering his 15th season, his second as the Executive Director of Community and Fan Development, he continues to love what he does, even as his responsibilities grow year after year.
“My position now is Executive Director of Community and Fan Development and I’m also in charge of a good portion of the game staff,” Robinson said. “That includes ushers, diamond girls, security, and Phunland employees.”
After getting his start as a part-time usher in 1993, Robinson rose through the ranks and now goes out into the community as a sort of “face of the franchise” representing the organization at dinners and other events.
He is also responsible for escorting Fightins players to different events and handling mascot appearances. If an organization is looking for a donation, be it merchandise for an auction, tickets to a game, or the occasional monetary donation, Robinson is the one who makes the final decision as to whether or not the request will be fulfilled.
“If somebody asks for a donation request, I fulfill them,” Robinson said. “We try to fulfill everybody’s request.”
Working so closely with the community is part of what keeps him coming back each year. He loves the interaction with the different groups and the different challenges that arise each day.
Along with his full-time position with the organization, Robinson also serves as the secretary for Baseballtown Charities.
“I do a lot of different things here,” Robinson said. “But I love it. I have a great time in what I do.”
FirstEnergy Stadium opened its gates on Saturday, March 19, as the Reading Fightin’ Phils welcomed both returning and new employees. Bundled against the cool temperatures, everyone arrived for the annual employee orientation in preparation for the 2016 season.
Every Season the Fightins see a multitude of returning employees and this season looks to continue that trend.
From ticket takers to ushers and security guards to concessions workers, employees continue to come back to Baseballtown every year. For some, it’s a second job while for others it’s an opportunity to get out of the house during retirement.
No matter what the reason is, employees return year after year after year. With so many returning employees, the Fightins created a way to honor those who stay with the organization for a minimum of 10 years.
The wall just inside the employee entrance is filled with rows of small, gold plaques honoring the members of the Fightins’ Employee Honor Roll. At the end of the 2016 season a new group of plaques will find their way to that wall.
Each employee who works at FirstEnergy Stadium has their own reasons for returning each year.
“This is my fun job. I just like to come out and see everyone,” said Amy Cengeri, a Fightins’ diamond girl who will be working her 13th season in 2016. “Everyone that works here is kind of like one big family.”
Everyone working at the ballpark, from the general manager to the newest member of the clean team, knows that every job counts in giving the fans the best experience they can. It is this mentality that creates a strong family atmosphere between employees and fans alike and is a large part of what keeps employees coming back each season.
On Monday, March 7, spring sports began at Exeter High School with the first day of official practice. Over the past few months, teams have been holding voluntary open gym workouts to begin preparing for the upcoming season.
As the season officially opened, many coaches wasted no time getting their teams out on to the playing field.
Practices began for multiple teams immediately following dismissal. Taking advantage of unseasonably high temperatures and clear skies the baseball, boys tennis, and track and field teams were able to hold practice outside.
With a turf field and all-weather track at Don Thomas Stadium, Exeter has the ability to have multiple teams practicing in the same place at the same time. While long-distance runners worked out on the track, sprinters conditioned on the turf and pole vaulters got in some early season practice vaults.
The boys’ tennis team headed over to an adjoining park to take to the courts and begin working towards a county title.
As spring seasons begin to take shape, two of Exeter’s nine teams are looking to continue the success they had during the 2015 season.
The baseball team is coming off of an exciting BCIAA semi-final appearance and looks to go one step further and make it to the finals. Girls’ lacrosse hopes to carry the success of their 2015 BCIAA Championship run into the 2016 season.
Coming off a successful fall season with long runs by the football team, field hockey team, and girls’ tennis team and two state medalists in the winter wrestling season, the Eagles hope to see continued success for the athletic program with their spring sports teams.
On Saturday March 5 the Reading Royals welcomed boy scouts and girl scouts from the Reading area to enjoy a night at Santander Arena as the team took on the Wheeling Nailers as part of the Fifteenth Anniversary Community Series.
Throughout the season the Royals host a number of different theme nights to celebrate fifteen years of providing entertainment and support to the local community. These nights include Scout Night, Autism Awareness Night, and Shelter night to name a few.
In honor of Scout Night, the nation’s colors were presented during the national anthem by a local cub scout pack. The Reading Royals donned Scout themed jerseys that were auctioned off post game. All proceeds from the auction went to the Hawk Mountain Council-Boy Scouts of America.
The atmosphere inside Santander Arena was filled with a sense of community. The crowd cheered nonstop throughout the game and the Royals organization did not skimp on the entertainment.
There were small contests for fans taking place all around the arena including one where one lucky fan took home a $100 gift card for Vanity Fair Outlets because he was wearing Lee Jeans. Another young fan was thrilled to win a $25 gift card from Visions Credit Union and announced that she would be purchasing My Little Ponies.
Walking through the concourse of the arena the feeling of community was all around. Fans waiting in line for food would strike up conversations with each other. Waiting in line for the popular crab fries at Chickie’s and Pete’s, fans were given the chance to look at a collection of hats collected from various games in which Royals’ players scored hat tricks.
Coinciding with Scout Night was the celebration of Slapshot’s, the Royals’ mascot, birthday. As part of the celebration, the arena played host to mascots from various local organizations who roamed throughout the stands greeting fans.
Two lucky fans were given the opportunity to walk out onto the ice with the mascots and lead the crowd in a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” to honor the 15-year-old lion mascot.
Despite a 4-3 loss to the visiting Nailers, the evening was yet another successful part of the Community Series.