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Ripken Spotlight - Kate Wojciechowski: Growing the Game of Softball One Spring Training Season at a Time

By Ripken Baseball, 03/06/19, 5:15PM EST



If you’ve ever visited The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge, chances are you’ve met Sr. Operations Coordinator Kate Wojciechowski. There’s also a chance that you might never meet another person as dedicated to growing the game of softball in Tennessee.

Kate grew up East of Pigeon Forge in Johnson City, and has either been playing or involved with baseball and softball since she was 7. She played outfield for East Tennessee State University, where she earned a degree in Sport Performance and Coaching, and later earned a master’s degree in Sport Management from University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Since its opening in 2016, Kate has been instrumental to the success of The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge and its team, assisting with everything from guest needs to tournament management. She’s also played a  key role in growing softball Spring Training.

During the program’s first year in 2017, 30 teams had registered – this year, that number has more than doubled with 70 teams headed to Pigeon Forge to play softball in 2019. Kate’s main goal is to increase that number every year, her determination resting on ensuring equal access to high-quality, safe fields for both young men and women.

“When softball players come to The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge, they’re playing at professional facilities,” she said. “We want these young women to know that they’re good enough to play anywhere, and that they’re respected.”

The personal relationships Kate has built with teams over the years keeps each season rewarding. She says seeing familiar faces and smiles as players walk toward the batting cages or fields makes every day worth it.

“We have a lot of teams that visit us year after year – to watch those players grow on the field and to get to know them better off the field is really special,” said Kate.

As the only female staff member in Pigeon Forge, Kate says confidence in herself has allowed her to leave such a large impact on The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge in such a short period of time. She has big plans for softball at The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge, and her drive to help players reach their dreams doesn’t end on the diamond.

“To young girls who want to work in the sports industry, I’d tell them you have to trust yourself and stay strong,” Kate said. “When you’re confident in yourself and your opinions, it’s easier for other team members to trust you and support you.”

Prior to Ripken Baseball, Kate interned for Disney on their sports attractions team. She provided support for over 1,500 soccer teams and assisted with ten soccer events that generated over $3 million in revenue.  Her experience in the youth sports industry and desire to travel back home to Tennessee lead to the perfect opportunity with Ripken.

“Kate is a consummate professional. She is knowledgeable, dedicated, encouraging and selfless. In an industry that is primarily male, Kate more than holds her own. I speak on behalf of our staff and customers when I say Kate is a joy to be around. We are extremely blessed to have her on our team," said General Manager David Bounds.

It’s the passion for helping young players excel that makes Kate such a valuable team member for Ripken Baseball.