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Spotlight Series: Former Heartlanders Interns Use ECHL Experiences To Earn MLB, NBA Call-Ups

Wednesday, September 27th
Spotlight Series: Former Heartlanders Interns Use ECHL Experiences To Earn MLB, NBA Call-Ups

Coralville, Iowa – One of the main tenets of the Iowa Heartlanders and the ECHL is “development.” This theme goes behind the scope of the team’s players that are trying to advance to the NHL, but also the Heartlanders’ front office staff and talented groups of assistants and interns that help make Heartlanders games an exciting success at Xtream Arena.

In particular, a few former Heartlanders interns have “made it to the show” – Daniel Crooks (Washington Nationals), Nathan Escobedo (Chicago Bulls) and Marc Cortez (Arizona Diamondbacks). Each of them used their experiences with the Heartlanders to elevate to the highest level in sports.

“I learned how fast-paced working in sports was and how to manage time where you have to work quickly,” said Crooks, who is a Player Development Assistant with Washington. Crooks was a gameday/operations assistant with Iowa in the team’s inaugural season, a position the Heartlanders are now hiring for the 2023-24 season.“

There was an emphasis on connecting with fans and people,” Crooks, 23, added. “I considered myself to be quiet, but the Heartlanders helped bring me out of my shell and communicate with people. That’s given me confidence here with the Nationals' players, staff and fans.”

Escobedo, who is now an Inside Sales Representative with the Bulls, mirrored that sentiment.

“That real-world experience I got from Iowa talking with clients and prospects gave me that confidence that I use here when I’m talking with businesses or people I’ve never spoken to before,” Escobedo said. “Getting a taste of that helped me adjust quicker than someone who didn’t have that experience.”

Winning on and off the ice

Beyond building a successful team on the ice, Heartlanders President Matt Getz has already encouraged his staff to seek out creative and unique ideas for the team’s assistants and interns.

“As someone who started their career in sports as an intern, I want to make that same opportunity available for other aspiring professionals,” Getz said. “It’s a deep-rooted value for me to ensure the Heartlanders are providing exposure to working in sports, as well as opportunities to grow and develop skill sets to create viable candidates for future employment in the industry.“

Within my first 10 days, I had meetings with the University of Iowa’s Sport & Recreation Management (SRM) Program and the College of Journalism and Mass Communication to develop strategic partnerships that will provide mutual value for years to come. And while the University of Iowa will be a very important partner for us in a variety of ways, we’re also interested in aspiring professionals who aren’t current U of I students.”

Both Escobedo and Crooks were University of Iowa students that became invaluable parts of the Heartlanders.

“The Heartlanders really showed me what a team really is and how it should be,” said Escobedo, who interned with Iowa in the 2022-23 season. “It’s not just being in the office, but what it means to have a good organizational culture, trusting people and I think that’s helped me with Chicago knowing what a good company should be and helped me make the right decision to work for the Bulls.”

Crooks also found that the Heartlanders' culture paid dividends when making a final decision to work with the Nationals.

“I worked with a great group of people with the Heartlanders,” he said. “Connecting with people, communicating, building relationships from the Heartlanders has helped me get to where I am now and will continue to help me as I try to advance my career.”  

The team-building goes beyond offering “busy work” internships, but immersive experiences that prepare Heartlanders assistants for the next level.

“It’s important to me we offer hands-on, value-add responsibilities that are beneficial to both those in our internship program and the Heartlanders as an organization,” Getz said. “We want to provide opportunities for the entire Corridor, and you’ll see that commitment to the community in everything we do as an organization moving forward.”

“The next few years I want to keep growing here,” Escobedo concluded. “I grew up rooting for the Bulls as a kid that just loved watching Derrick Rose,” said Escobedo. “Now being able to make memories for people kind of like how they did for me is really cool. I have to pinch myself every now and then. Where I am today with Chicago might not have happened if I wasn’t able to learn and grow with the Heartlanders.”

Interested in learning more?

Prospective interns/assistants can apply for 2023-24 positions on the Heartlanders' Teamwork Online Page. If you would like to get involved, you may also call 319-569-4625 and email info@iowaheartlanders.com.

Rose Club Season Ticket Memberships, Group Plans, Mini Plans, Flex Tickets and single-game tickets to the are now available by calling 319-569-4625 and visiting iowaheartlanders.com/tickets. The Heartlanders open the season on Friday, Oct. 20 at 6:35 p.m. vs. Rapid City, featuring special pregame festitivies to kick off Iowa's third season and a magnet schedule giveaway to the first 2000 fans, pres. by Paul Park Real Estate.