From One Winning Team To The Next
Image via Titilayo Funso
By Zoria McClerklin, Sports Producer
On Wednesday, Aug. 23, members of The Maroon Tiger were able to cover the Atlanta Braves HBCU night vs. New York Mets. As Maroon Tiger stepped into the vibrant stadium at Truist Park that evening, they weren’t just covering a game. They were unveiling a story of legacy, empowerment, and the spirit of HBCUs – woven through the story of Spelman College Alumna Najah Liggans.
Liggans is a 2023 graduate of Spelman, with a degree in English from Atlanta, Georgia. Throughout her matriculation at Spelman, Liggans was blessed with a variety of internship opportunities in the sports industry like being a Houston Astros Sports Business Immersion Intern, being a part of the LaChica Sports and Entertainment Group Sports Business Global Immersion Program in London, England and a NASCAR | 23XI Racing Marketing Intern.
Liggans journey is a testament of perseverance, hard work and determination. She spoke with The Maroon Tiger to share more about her experience.
McClerklin: Can you describe the Hank Aaron Fellowship and your experience with the Braves thus far?
Liggans: Of course! As a Hank Aaron fellow, ￼I’ve collaborated with the President and CEO of the Atlanta Braves and engaged in the daily functions of various departments within the organization.
My first rotation was with Community Affairs and Foundation where I worked a lot on Hank Aaron week and the Hank Aaron Invitational and now, I’m transitioning into Guest Services. In this role so far, I’ve gained invaluable knowledge and hands-on experience.
McClerklin: What has been your favorite project that you’ve worked on so far?
Liggans: I think my favorite project has been Hank Aaron week. I feel that as a Hank Aaron Fellow, it was a great way to see Hank Aaron’s legacy continue to live on.
During his life Aaron was extremely passionate about social justice, entrepreneurship and education pathways in baseball. We were really able to touch on these initiatives through various projects.
As a Spelman Alumna, it was such a full circle moment to be with my AUC siblings as a part of the Clark Atlanta Homes for Hank project. We built a state-of-the-art, covered batting cages at Lady Panthers Field for the Clark Atlanta University women’s softball team. With this event I facilitated communications with Clark Atlanta and the Braves to hold a ribbon cutting ceremony, and to ensure that everything ran smoothly.
Image via Najah Liggans
McClerklin: With the Hank Aaron Invitational, can you expound more on the importance of this event?
Liggans: Of course! In partnership with the MLB, MLB Players Association and USA Baseball, we invited the top 44 high school athletes from week two of the Hank Aaron Invitational to play in a game under the lights at Truist Park. Along with the game, players were able to experience a “CulturalDay” in the city of Atlanta, GA.
Players alongside their coaches visited the Martin Luther King Center and ate lunch at Paschal’s with major guests, such as former United Nations ambassador Andrew Young, Billye Aaron (Hank’s widow), Rubye Lucas (Bill Lucas’s wife), Braves chairman Terry McGuirk and Braves president and CEO Derek Schiller. I truly enjoyed watching this event come to fruition! It was an amazing opportunity to see all the talent these African American athletes have.
McClerklin: What would you say is the most challenging part about working for the Braves?
Liggans: I would say that the most challenging part isn’t necessarily the Braves organization itself, because I love it here. I think it’s more so internally walking with the understanding that I do deserve to be here and belong in this space. Jumping straight into the workforce right out college has definitely been an adjustment, but I am very grateful for how welcoming the Braves organization has been to me.
McClerklin: With that context, what is the best piece of advice you would give to Spelman students looking to get into the sports industry?
Liggans: You really have to take a chance and bet on yourself. Going into this field I know it can be a bit intimidating because this industry is highly competitive, but you have to go for it. Also, there is a growing number of Spelman women that are now thriving in this industry so lean on our sisterhood because they’re always willing to help!
McClerklin: One final question, what do you love most about working for the Braves?
Liggans: Honestly, I really love baseball! The Braves are the top number one team in the NL East and so being with a winning team is great. It really helps the culture of the office and the fans as well.
Also, with the Hank Aaron Fellowship, fellows get a lot of freedom to take on projects and be creative. Even though there are challenges along the way, our supervisors lead with grace and the freedom to be hands-on helps me to gain experience.
Copy Edited by: Kobe Scales, Sports Editor & Auzzy Byrdsell Editor in Chief