Thank You for Your Service

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Putting on an event for as many as 40,000 people, feeding them, entertaining them, addressing their concerns and catering to their needs, is a tall task that requires many moving parts working together, in concert. Putting on 81 of such events, in strings of as many as 10 or 11 in a row, sometimes twice in the same day, is a monumental task. It requires far more helping hands than the front office staff alone can offer.

That’s where our TEAM Service members come in. A staff of 1,750 workers, local Washingtonians, Virginians and Marylanders staff the ballpark and provide everything they can to ensure your fan experience is the best possible. This year, we asked fans to nominate and vote for the best of the best, who were rewarded on the field prior to the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader on the final day of the regular season. Then, this past weekend, they enjoyed a trip to St. Louis to take in Game 1 of the NLCS between the Cardinals and Dodgers. The contest turned out to be a classic postseason ballgame, with the home side winning, 3-2, in 13 innings.

Selckman (back left), Lavigne (back center-right) and Howard (back center) were just three of the TEAM Service members on the trip.

Selckman (back left), Lavigne (back center-right) and Howard (back center) were just three of the TEAM Service members on the trip.

Karen Selckman, a bartender out at the Red Porch, was one of this year’s winners. She’s been pouring from the center field restaurant since the ballpark opened back in 2008 and has formed a group of regulars. But she was blown away to learn that she had received the honor.

“It’s completely overwhelming,” she said. “It’s flattering and I’m shocked.”

For employees like Selckman, customers with smiling faces is reward enough. This is just icing on the cake.

“What else can you ask for, you know?” she said. “If people are happy, we’re happy. It’s personal, so when you know that people are happy, it’s very fulfilling.”

Mike Lavigne has been a Guest Experience Usher, and has also worked at Nationals Park since it opened six seasons ago. He enjoys not just the company of the fans, but all his fellow coworkers, and was pleasantly surprised to be singled out among them for this honor.

“We’ve got so many good folks, how did I sneak through?” he joked upon learning of the award.

In his six years, Lavigne has seen the growth of both the team on the field and the fan base as it comes to accept the Nationals as its own team. That continued growth and connection keeps him coming back every year with more passion than the last.

“Just look at it,” he explained. “The fan base, when we were first starting out, there was a lot of excitement … I think Washington has been starving for baseball for a long time.”

The view from the seats at Busch Stadium.

The view from the seats at Busch Stadium.

Lavigne’s favorite part of the job is simply the human element, the ability to interact with fellow baseball fans as they escape their daily routine at the ballpark.

“I get to watch a little bit of baseball, I get to interact with folks that I don’t get to do in the regular job. It’s just a big win. Frankly, folks want to be here. This is different than other sports.”

“Big” Al Howard is a CSC Event Staff member, one of many in charge of managing crowd control in The District’s largest sporting venue. That can be a thankless position sometimes, especially when events outside of his control cause friction among the fans. But he takes it all in stride as part of the position.

“Customer service is exactly what it says: customer service,” Howard explained. “Sometimes you have to bend over backwards. Sometimes you have to take the mud in the face. But at the same time, you try to make that experience enjoyable and at least try to accommodate whatever their questions are.”

So what is Howard’s greatest reward in the three years he has worked at Nationals Park?

“People remembering your name. People remembering you for what you’ve done. Somebody saying ‘Thank you,’ or coming back to you, or asking for you or a compliment via someone else about you.”

Consider this a big thank you from all of us at the Nationals for another great season. See you all in 2014.

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