Abhinav Mahesh | CIIP 2023 Blog Portfolio

Orientation Week

Going into orientation week, I was excited, but also nervous to see what the week would hold. Would it be presentation after presentation, or something similar to freshman year orientation? Originally, I was challenged by the new ideas that were brought in by the different speakers and presenters. I found it very insightful to learn about different aspects of all things related to Baltimore. For example, one of the main ideas that stuck with me was Hopkins’ history with the city and the negative lasting impacts that are still prevalent to this day. Specifically, the presentation that Jessa gave was very comprehensive and did a great job of putting into perspective the role that we as students can play in the city of Baltimore. Later on, presentations that focused on identity, diversity, and inclusion highlighted topics that are not discussed as much, and I was glad to be a part of these conversations. Overall, I left orientation week vastly more aware of the privilege I hold, and the responsibility I have as a student to bring our community closer. Aside from the presentations, I really cherish the relationships that I was able to create during the week. At first, it was definitely intimidating to meet all the other 50+ interns, peer mentors, and coordinators. However, the peer mentors did a great job of bringing us together (shoutout to Diksha) and definitely brought out all of our personalities. By the end of the week, it was like everyone knew each other, which is something I did not expect on the first day. Something that also caught my eye was the amazing diversity of our group, which brought along a lot of unique perspectives and answers during our sessions. I learned a lot from my peers, and they also challenged me to think critically and with an open mind. I am excited to see what is in store during my partnership!

Week 1

My first week at BUBA was filled with a lot of new opportunities to learn more about the program and all of the great work that has been done in the past. A majority of my tasks have been primarily surrounding generating revenue and advertising the program to as many people as possible. For example, my supervisor tasked me with coordinating and communicating with a website designed in order to get a newer and cleaner platform launched. On top of that, I have been designing merchandise for the program so that we can start to sell it online. As such, I became more familiar with companies like Printful, Sage, and Shopify. Meeting new athletes of all ages has also been a rewarding experience. There are a lot of college athletes that come into the facility and with that, I have become familiar with Virtuagym – the platform that we use to keep track of our athletes and registrations for different events. One big success of the week was getting Dom Freeberger, a friend of BUBA and NCAA BIG East Player of the Year, to help host a week-long camp for children. Outside of the work that I have been doing with BUBA, I have been able to explore Baltimore more and see areas that I otherwise would not have been exposed to. Pigtown, the neighborhood that BUBA is located in, is actually very close to the Orioles’ and Ravens’ stadiums. It is also the neighborhood that Babe Ruth grew up in! I have also gotten familiar with the transportation in Baltimore, taking the Purple, Yellow, and Silver Bus routes every day. One of the issues that I have come to learn about is the lack of access to play sports in Baltimore City. Many public schools do not have teams for kids to play on, let alone a field to practice. As such, having a program like BUBA, which can provide free access to the facility and training, is an important project to have in Baltimore.

Week 2

My second week at BUBA was just as impactful as the first, and I learned a lot more about finding ways to make revenue and keep the site sustainable. Throughout the whole week, we had Dominic Freeberger, BIG East Player of the Year and potential future draftee, along with a friend, provide a camp to a group of 10-16-year-olds. The camp was filled with different stretches, exercises, and techniques for the hitters to learn more about the game of baseball and improve their swings. They also played different games and bonded with each other throughout the week. By the end, they all seemed to be good friends, with some of them eager to return to another came being held by Freeberger in a couple of weeks. On other fronts, I was able to finish up a good amount of merch designs and was able to sell one online without any advertising. My supervisor plans on using the platform Upwork in order to hire a professional to run advertisements on Facebook or other sites in order to promote the sales of shirts and hoodies. One of the challenges that I faced in the last week was keeping myself busy without the instruction of my supervisor. As he was busy helping facilitate the camp, I found myself without instruction for some of the day. At first, I was a little lost in what to do, but I found that making a list of tasks for the day helped guide me to make sure I was able to get things done. As this week wraps up, I am excited to for the next since there is a possibility that a member of the Cincinnati Reds coaching staff will be coming to visit. Hopefully, an increased exposure to BUBA will help us to continue sustaining the work that we do.

Week 3

Overall, I can say without a doubt that my third week at BUBA was my favorite. As I mentioned last week, we had Jeff Pickler, Outfield and Game-planning Coach of the Cincinnati Reds, come and visit BUBA. We had nearly 50 athletes from the Baltimore community come into BUBA, ranging from elementary to college students. His knowledge of the game of baseball was second to none, and he was immediately able to assist our athletes with fine-tuning aspects of their game. On top of that, he had a lot of inspirational words to say to our players and had complete admiration for the talent of our athletes and the program that we are running. He liked it so much that he decided to come back again on Wednesday, but this time with Cincinnati Reds Left Fielder, Will Benson. Although it was not the first time a professional player had come into BUBA, it was my first time meeting one, and a childhood dream of mine was fulfilled. At BUBA, Benson immediately jumped into helping out our athletes and providing them with the same insights that helped him to become a professional player. His presence was a great exposure for BUBA since more people were able to learn about our program. On top of that, we were able to find out more about Benson’s philanthropic background, which could help us to create connections that would build toward’s our sustainability as a program. Overall, it was a very rewarding experience to meet both Jeff Pickler and Will Benson and create relationships within the realm of Major League Baseball. I was fortunate to go to the Reds and Orioles game on the same day, where Jeff Pickler recognized me and even gave me a game ball! For the next week, I hope to be able to finish working on the program’s website and finalize all of the merchandise that we want to sell.

Week 4

During my fourth week at BUBA, my schedule got back into the routine of things. One of my goals for the week was to consolidate information we had about our athletes onto one page. For example, we had preexisting profiles for a majority of our athletes, but important information was left out of it. Accordingly, I sent out a Google form to our athletes with new information that we needed and then added it to the existing profiles we had. I was shocked to see how many athletes were enrolled with BUBA, with over 1000 profiles on our site. Aside from that project, I was able to get in contact with the project manager for our website, and we had the initial designs completed. Getting a website up is one of the most important goals we have for the summer, as it is one of the primary methods to familiarize yourself with BUBA and learn about what we are. On top of that, the website is the one place that can provide access to our memberships, merchandise, and donation page. Overall, our goal for the summer is still the same. In order to keep BUBA sustainable, we needed to find ways to support our income flow. These past few weeks we have been successful in terms of making money, as we had the camp for our athletes as well as the launch of our merch. However, as the summer moves forward, we need to find methods of making a consistent income, which will help to keep BUBA running.

Week 5

My fifth week at BUBA was a little different from other weeks, as I was more involved with the game of baseball. For the first couple of days of the week, I helped my supervisor with planning and preparation for an MLB All-Star game appreciation viewing party. The main goal of the event was to show appreciation for members of the community that are involved with BUBA and have helped us out in some capacity. Later on in the week, I was tasked with setting up a new technology that was given to us, which helps batters to get a better sense of their analytics. Some of the analytics include bat speed, on-plate efficiency, and barrel percentage. I worked alongside one of our BUBA athletes to set up the new sensor. The process included creating an account on the app of the sensor and then calibrating some of our bats to the system in order to test out the technology. After taking a few swings, the BUBA athlete and I were able to better understand the Blast Motion sensor and the different analytics it produced. As such, we were able to create a step-by-step guide with instructions ranging from launching the app, setting up your personal bat, and analyzing the metrics. It was especially cool to see the sensor work in real-time on one of our athletes, as we were able to provide tips to him based on the data that we were given. Having technology such as the Blast Motion is very important to BUBA, as it not only attracts new athletes but also helps our athletes to become better players themselves.

Week 7

My eighth week at BUBA was different from the others in that I spent a lot of time cleaning and making the facility look neat and tidy. For example, on Monday I was tasked with going through all of the baseballs in the facility and separating the broken balls from the old ones. On top of that, Will Benson, the outfielder for the Reds that had visited us a few weeks ago, donated over 250 new balls. Each of them was individually wrapped so getting through all of them took a bit of time! Nonetheless, it was a much-needed donation as some of the balls that were circulating through the facility were almost 2 to 3 years old. Later on in the week, I was also tasked with managing the tall grass and weed that was growing rapidly outside of the facility. I used a lawnmower to first get through the bulks of grass and weed and then used a weedwhacker for the first time to ensure that the grass was evenly cut in all places. One of the fathers of the athletes was kind enough to help me out as well. All of these experiences showed me another side of non-profit management that I had not realized before. On top of all of the normal duties that my supervisor has, there are also important tasks such as cleaning and tidying up that need to be completed on a routine basis. During the rest of the week, I continued working on my previous projects of website development and working with the athletes to integrate more technology into their workouts.