A college lecture changed Ashlea Nash's career path.
"I'll never forget what Dr. (Ryan) Hedstrom (associate professor of sport management) told our Event Management class during my junior year," the 2015 Manchester University graduate and former Spartan softball athlete said. "He said in the sport and event management field, you have to work harder than anyone else to get where you want to go.
It's all about volunteering, volunteering, volunteering," she recalled. "Eighteen-hour unpaid days in internships get you the experience you need. He was right … without those words; I wouldn't be where I am today."
Nash quickly put that mantra into action after graduation. She worked with the Chicago Bandits in promotions and game day operations, was involved with Indiana Sports Corp in communications and marketing, and worked with Vision Event Management doing all kinds of things. In most cases, money was not the outcome … it was networking and experience.
"Hey, if I didn't keep myself in sport and event management as a volunteer, I wouldn't have been at a networking event last November where Nina Johnson, the director of the Central Region for Little League, was speaking," she admitted. "Nina mentioned a Little League event near Indianapolis and I told her I'd like to volunteer. The opportunity worked out so well that later, I was told about an opening in the office. I jumped at the chance.
"I can't imagine being anywhere else," she added. "Nina is a wonderful boss and mentor. Little League is exactly what I was looking for career-wise. It deals with an international organization that aids volunteers around the globe."
Nash has held the title of assistant director of the Central Region since March. It is not just a job for her …. It is more of a labor of love.
"The best part of this is that is changes every day as there's a chance to work with a little bit of everything," she said. "We're here to cater to all of the league's needs across 13 states, 1,000 teams and more than 300,000 players. It is all about customer service, working closely with the volunteers of each league and team in regards to tournament play, eligibility, marketing, compliance and sponsorship.
There isn't a true typical day," she added. "We're catering to the many different needs of our region … talking to league presidents, doing paperwork for player eligibility and getting ready for own events and the Central Region tournaments in late July-early August as well as the World Series in mid-August."
Nash's first big event dealt with a traveling road show the organization does in the fall and winter. "They're awesome," she said. "We go all over our region doing leadership presentations to help the leagues and their volunteers succeed … talking about rule changes and so forth."
The 2015 alum is also keenly looking forward to the Central Region baseball and softball championships at Grand Park in Westfield, which feature nine softball and 12 baseball teams vying for LLWS berths. Following that opportunity, she and the Central Region office team join the rest of the country in venerable Williamsport, Pennsylvania, for a traditional rite of late summer, the Little League World Series.
"I was fortunate to find something in baseball and softball which I really love to work in," she noted. "Going to a Little League World Series is very exciting … a dream come true because of all of the wonderful things that come out of that setting.
This organization has been so good (to me)," she added. "It allows me the chance to get my hands into different things to help make the leagues and region better all the way around."
Touching all the bases … something Ashlea Nash is accustomed to.