If you have browsed around the Toledo Mud Hens’ Swamp Shop this summer or gone to Fifth Third field to purchase tickets, there is a chance you might have seen a couple young men towering above the rest.
In between offseason workouts and summer courses, University of Toledo men’s basketball players Luke Knapke and Nate Navigato have joined the Mud Hens as ticket sales and merchandise interns this summer.
Knapke, a junior, and Navigato, a senior, are preparing for important roles this season on what should again be a good Rockets team.
Navigato, a 6-foot-8 forward from Geneva, Ill., set a single-season school record last season with 94 made 3-pointers. One of the top shooters in the Mid-American Conference, Navigato was third on the team in scoring at 12.2 points per game.
Knapke, a 6-foot-11 center from Maria Stein Marion Local High School, tied a Toledo record with 60 blocked shots last season and was the team’s fourth leading scorer at 10.8 points per game. He also was second on the team at 6.3 rebounds per game.
While a big season on the court awaits the talented duo, for now the two have an eye toward the future and are gaining valuable experience on the business side of sports after their playing careers are done.
The Blade: How did this summer internship with the Mud Hens come about?
Knapke: “I just mentioned to coach [Tod Kowalczyk] that I wanted an internship this summer and I told him I wanted to work in sports. Then he connected with [Mud Hens president and CEO] Joe Napoli and then got me an interview here and then I got the job.”
Navigato: “Basically Luke and I, we knew we wanted to get a good internship this summer, and our summer was free. We know the Mud Hens and Walleye have great internships. And us being able to do this along with basketball will really help our resume and for the future. It’s a great opportunity and we are thankful to have this.”
What are your main responsibilities on the job?
Knapke: “We sell tickets and we do merchandise as well. If someone comes up to the window and asks for tickets or someone calls and asks for tickets, we just help them however we can.”
Navigato: “Right now I’m doing ticket sales and merchandise. I will walk the floor and greet customers. And I will help them sell tickets and help them in that way.”
What is your major and how does this internship fit in with that?
Knapke: “I major in marketing and management. This is like a sales internship for me. It gives me a different view on things and I get to see if I like it.”
Navigato: “I’m a marketing and management major. This is sales and marketing and it kind of has a little bit of everything. They said that pretty much everyone who works here started where Luke and I are right now in the ticket and merchandising section. You have to work your way up, so it will good to have this experience.”
How does this job rank with other jobs that you have had?
Knapke: “I’ve only actually had one other summer job and it was very labor intensive, but it kept me busy and I didn’t mind it. But this job I definitely like a lot better. It’s kind of geared towards my future to see what I like.”
Navigato: “This is definitely the best job I’ve had. I’ve done little things like working in the factory just to get a little bit of cash. But this is really my first actual job.”
What’s it like working with Nate?
Knapke: “We actually never get scheduled together. He thinks we will mess around too much or something. But the few times we have worked together it has been fun.”
Are you a baseball fan?
Navigato: “I’m a huge baseball fan. I’m a big Chicago Cubs fan. I love baseball and I follow it and I used to play it a lot.”
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