Front row seat to Red Sox Nation

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West Warwick native getting writing, retail experience with Red Sox

KINGSTON, R.I. – March 17, 2011 – Just weeks away from opening day, there is a major buzz about the Boston Red Sox this spring. With the additions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to an already strong lineup, there is added excitement for the 2011 season.

Recent University of Rhode Island graduate Renée Lavoie is getting an up close look at Red Sox Nation this spring, thanks to her internship with the organization. Lavoie, who earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2008, is in Fort Myers, Fla. as a merchandise and administrative intern with the team. She oversees the team store and helps manage the 40-plus employees.

“Our store is unique in the way that its manager and buyer, Doreen Arsenault, designs everything to be specifically for spring training in Fort Myers,” Lavoie said. “We carry a lot of items you won’t be able to find anywhere else, and our store has been the leader in terms of sales in MLB team training stores for the past several years.”

Lavoie, who will finish her master’s degree in communications in May, also has taken on the role of reporter for the organization’s top minor league affiliate, the Pawtucket Red Sox. She has been writing the Report from the Fort, a series of features on about players and coaches who are either expected to suit up for the PawSox this season, or have done so in the past.

“The PawSox figured that I would be in the area and it would be a good connection for the column,” Lavoie said. “Getting interviews for the column is overseen by the Boston Red Sox public relations department, and it works to connect me and the players I choose to speak with.”

Lavoie has actually been a part of the Red Sox organization for several seasons. She spent the 2010 season working in three different departments for NESN, the sports media outlet owned by the Red Sox and Boston Bruins. She worked in sales and traffic for the network, and was part of the remote production teams for both the Red Sox and Bruins broadcasts.

“In sales, I would generate reports from the sales reps and assist with finding creative ways to help the (television) ratings,” Lavoie said. “In production, I would assist with live shoots at Fenway and the TD Garden, where I would observe the talent, run tapes, and compile statistics as needed. I also spent time in the NESN offices learning how to edit, copy, and produce different elements of a live sporting event’s broadcast.”

Lavoie’s connection with the Red Sox began during her time as a student at URI. She worked at McCoy Stadium – home of the Pawtucket Red Sox –in the team store and selling programs at the front gate.

“The first thing they teach you, before you’re even done with your interview, is that their stadium and operation involves everyone,” Lavoie said. “They encourage you to make the fans’ experience count and assist with anything and everything. The same attitude is carried out throughout the rest of the Red Sox organization.”

Lavoie has grown up in the sporting world and was a four-year member of URI’s swimming and diving team, serving as a captain her senior season. Her family often attended Rhode Island Tiger Sharks games. The Tiger Sharks – which played in her hometown of West Warwick – are a former minor league team affiliated with the independent Northeast League.

“I was a Sox fan growing up, but not to the extent I am now,” Lavoie said. “My family would have the game on TV on weekends and I would get bored and end up watching it. My dad and brothers were really into baseball and would bring me to local Tiger Sharks games, which I thought were really boring and didn’t like going to at all. But it was my dad’s version of ‘family bonding,’ and I didn’t have a choice in the matter. My mom used to tease me that someday I would change my mind, and it turns out she was right.”

These days, she envisions a future in which baseball figures a prominent role. Lavoie hopes to pursue philanthropic work with an organization such as the Red Sox Foundation, which promotes health, education, recreation and social service needs of children and families across New England.

“I truly believe in bringing Major League Baseball to all types of people,” Lavoie said. “I really love being involved and bringing the game to fans on so many levels and being able to connect people to what might be just a dream otherwise.”

Compassion is a part of Lavoie, who originally came to URI as a nursing student. Despite a strong interest in the program, she switched to journalism in an effort to better balance her academic and athletic schedules. Though breaking into sports journalism as a woman is no easy task, Lavoie has found her niche.

“The key things I have learned so far is to be willing to offer help to everyone and anyone, whether they ask for it or not,” she said. “When you’re beginning your career, you need to not only network but make a lasting impression. We are all human. It doesn’t matter if you are dealing with the janitor or the owner of the Boston Red Sox, you should treat everyone with the same respect and courtesy. The employees of the organization often act the same.

“I often think that I have no idea how I’ve ended up here, but when you really connect the dots, I’ve spent a lot of time chasing down ideas that I find interesting and goals that I’ve wanted to reach. Putting all the small steps together is what truly has brought me here today.”