An exercise science major snagging a full-time job with a major league baseball team—even before his graduation? It hardly sounds real. But it happened in the spring for UIndy senior Tyler Norton of St. Marys, Ohio. And the Los Angeles Dodgers are happy to have him. Choosing to come to UIndy was easy, Tyler says, after meeting baseball coach Gary Vaught, who is determined that his players finish their degrees. Knowing that the Greyhounds’ baseball program is one of Division II’s best, and that the exercise science program would challenge him and prepare him for his future, he was sure UIndy was the place for him. Tyler hopes to one day be a head strength and conditioning coach in the major leagues, and his time at UIndy has certainly given his career a jumpstart.
With guidance from faculty, he sent résumés and applications last year to numerous baseball organizations. He was chosen to work with the strength and conditioning coach of the Louisville Bats, the AAA affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, through an internship program.
“Coach Steve Barrick (the strength and conditioning coach at UIndy) has been an excellent mentor, allowing me to volunteer in the weight room and gain valuable experience. Also, Mindy Mayol (a kinesiology professor and Tyler’s internship adviser) has been incredibly helpful. She’s guided me through this entire process, from my internship in 2012 with the Louisville Bats to the job this year with the L.A. Dodgers,” which began in February 2013.
Mayol, having known Tyler for some time now, is proud of what he has accomplished but not surprised. She considers him to be focused, flexible, and energetic, and he works hard to make things happen. Tyler has already completed and passed the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification, for example.
“It was a pleasure to guide and advise a student who was self-led and motivated and it was very special for me to see him succeed. These same qualities that Tyler possesses now will ensure his success in the future. From a professor’s point of view, this is what it’s all about—not just the exclusive position with the L.A. Dodgers, but seeing your student take calculated risks, flourish, and keep succeeding.”
The next level
He landed the job with the storied Dodgers organization after checking strength and conditioning websites daily searching for possible jobs or internships. Tyler’s perseverance paid off again in the form of his new job as a salaried strength and conditioning coach. “I am very thankful to be in this position. I put a lot of time and hard work in finding my career path, and to have had a salary position five months before I graduated is unbelievable. I’m very excited about the opportunity the Dodgers have given me. The biggest obstacle is getting into professional baseball, so now my goal is to keep working hard and work my way up in the organization. It’s been my lifelong dream to work in professional baseball. I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity.”
Life after college
Working with professional athletes does have its challenges, but as a baseball player himself, Tyler knows the stakes. “I’ll admit, as a baseball fan, it was intimidating at first. After working with the players, you realize they’re normal people—with more money. It’s a special feeling when you have players with that much talent who know that I am there to make them better and help them have a successful career. The players are very respectful and treat me like a coach already.”
As Tyler heads into new territory and begins life after college, he is not worried at all. “I’m not really nervous,” he says, “because I feel my preparation from classes, work, and baseball at UIndy and my experience with the Louisville Bats have made me ready to be a successful strength and conditioning coach.”
Mayol, his prof, isn’t worried either. She knows that Tyler’s hunger for knowledge, and his ability to understand performance goals from the athlete’s perspective, are going to set him up for great success. She’s confident about what he will achieve. “To him, I would say ‘Stay hungry!’ Mayol says. “To everyone else, I would say ‘Stay tuned!’”
—Sarah Stierwalt ’13