Reflecting on his career choice, Jon Clemmons ‘08, who earned an undergraduate degree in business administration with a concentration in finance, recalled a quote from baseball great Yogi Berra: “‘When you come to a fork in the road, take it.’”
“After completing an internship with a financial firm and another with a minor league baseball team,” Clemmons said, “it was time to decide which road I was going to take. It was either pursue the business side of baseball, or chase the dollar signs in the financial sector.”
Clemmons, who grew up playing baseball in his hometown of Swansboro, N.C., first merged his academic pursuits with his lifelong love for the sport when he landed an internship with the Zebulon, N.C.-based Carolina Mudcats minor league team the summer following his junior year. Upon graduation, Clemmons returned to the Mudcats, where he gained sales experienced as the franchise’s director of ticket operations.
Two years later, he relocated across the state to assume the position of merchandise and promotions manager for the Asheville Tourists Baseball Club. During Clemmons’ tenure with the Tourists, the team has won two South Atlantic League championships. He was recently promoted to assistant general manager, focusing on sponsorship relations, fan engagement, and all aspects of the Tourists’ operations.
In a Ballpark Digest post dated October 15, 2014, Asheville Tourists president Brian DeWine said Clemmons “has been an integral part of our organization for quite some time. He is a rising star in this industry and we are excited to announce his expanded role.”
Clemmons described building relationships with his colleagues, fans, and corporate clients as the most rewarding aspect of his job.
“I am blessed to have mentors within and outside the game of baseball to call on whenever a situation arises,” he said. “Being able to share my love for the game of baseball with others and call it my profession is priceless. Most would say the 16-hour days during the 70-game home season is the most challenging aspect of the job, but for me, learning how to be as effective as possible in sales is a challenge that I embrace.”
When he’s not putting in long hours with the Tourists, Clemmons remains connected with the Park Scholarships program by serving on the Regional Selection Committee, reviewing applications and interviewing candidates in Western North Carolina.
“Each year, this experience teaches me how truly blessed we are to be able to call NC State our home,” said Clemmons. “The Park Scholarships program and the university changed my perspective on the world. I grew up in a beautiful small town on the Crystal Coast, and like my hometown, my mindset on how the cultures of the world unite was limited.”
Clemmons’ first experience with air travel was during the summer following his sophomore year at NC State, when he flew to Peru for a six-week study abroad program. As a college student, he also traveled to Ecuador and within the U.S.
“My time traveling abroad taught me the value of learning a language and culture firsthand while interacting with the locals on the street,” Clemmons said. “These experiences taught me to view the world and people differently.”
Today, Clemmons practices his Spanish language skills by conversing with some of the Tourists’ players. He is completing his MBA at Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Asheville campus, and on July 1, 2015 he will be installed as president of the Rotary Club of Asheville South.
“I’m thankful to be a part of an elite group of students and alumni who have received the Park Scholarship,” said Clemmons. “It allowed me to comfortably follow my dream and work in professional baseball.”
As current Park Scholars contemplate their own options for the future, Clemmons advises them to take full advantage of the extracurricular, travel, and service opportunities available at NC State.
“These experiences will better equip you to take the fork in the road as it draws near,” he said.
Story by Maressa Gabriel