By Chris Jackett
Some 23-year-olds are just wrapping up their college experiences, while others are, well, also wrapping up their collegiate experiences; but all while rubbing elbows with the Detroit Tigers' front office staff.
Novi resident Nicole Blaszczyk just turned over her Miss Michigan crown three short months ago, but has spent the time since working full-time as a social media intern with the Detroit Tigers while she takes the last two semesters worth of classes toward a marketing degree from Wayne State University and acts as an extra for locally filmed movies, music videos and television commercials.
“The Tigers actually sought me out. When I was down there for the first pitch, I mentioned to them I was going into marketing and wanted a sports focus,” Blaszczyk said. “It's a brand new position that came down from the MLB.”
She threw out the first pitch at two Tigers games, in Sept. 2009 and again in May 2010 during Polish-American Night (she's Polish, if you couldn't tell).
Blaszczyk started the job one week after her Miss Michigan duties ended June 19, meaning she went through the interview process for the internship during the last month of her reign. She said the position continues until at least opening day 2011.
“I update their Facebook, anything that's posted on there,” Blaszczyk said. She also writes the front office blog, works at promotional events, interacts with guests and events around the park, basically “capturing the experience and giving fans what they can't see and read in the newspaper.”
A side project she has gotten involved with since starting the new job is working directly with Tigers President/CEO/General Manager Dave Dombrowski and Vice President/Assistant General Manager Al Avila updating the wall-sized depth chart in the executive office whenever an injury or trade occurs. The chart includes rosters with individual magnets for every player on all 30 MLB teams and all of the Tigers' farm leagues' teams.
“It's been harder when the team's home because we pull 12-13-hour days,” Blaszczyk said.
Mix in her role as an extra in locally-shot films such as “LOL: Laughing Out Loud,” “Scream 4” and “Transformers 3” (all three are slated for 2011 releases), as well as in an Art Van Furniture commercial and as one of six girls in Miley Cyrus' upcoming “My Kind of Boy” music video (which is only released overseas right now), Blaszczyk can easily say she keeps busy with her balancing act of responsibilities.
“It's exciting to see more and more films coming here and people working,” she said, noting that production and catering companies are benefiting, not just local actors.
But Blaszczyk said she enjoys the various things she does, dipping her toes into different fields to get a feel for her future. She said she's better able to handle her busy life thanks to the Miss Michigan experience.
“It's basically a four-year degree wrapped into one long, exhausting year,” she said. “The challenges that you're faced with, you have to wear so many hats. No college could've offered me that.”
Living with a host family in Muskegon, Blaszczyk attended as many as three events per day during her reign as Miss Michigan. With so many events, she's been to all corners of the state.
“My family traveled Michigan quite a bit, so I had seen a lot of Michigan, knew a lot of Michigan, but nothing compared to what I had seen post-Miss Michigan,” Blaszczyk said.
Other than throwing out the first pitch at two Tigers games, Blaszczyk said her favorite experience during her reign was visiting the Eagle Village correctional facility near Cadillac that helps children exposed to substance abuse, whether on their own or through a family member.
“Going in and seeing these kids, on a personal level, (was special) because I knew where they were coming from,” Blaszczyk said. “You are not defined by your parents. It was inspirational for them.”
Between visits to unique locations like Eagle Village and visiting a bevy of other special events throughout the state, Blaszczyk said the Miss Michigan experience helped her grow and taught her several life lessons.
“I think the biggest thing, this might sound a little cheesy, is that any goal you might have, you can achieve it if you set your mind to it,” Blaszczyk said. “And being open minded, there's so much to learn and take in. I can only imagine what's beyond these five Great Lakes.”
For now, the 2005 graduate of Novi High School said she'd use the lessons she's learned to finish her marketing degree in May 2011 and continue working hard with the Detroit Tigers' organization. She also has an agent who keeps her in the loop with opportunities to be on the silver screen.
“I'm back home and (things are) semi-normal, whatever normal is,” Blaszczyk said.
Chris Jackett is a free-lance writer and former Novi News staff writer.