Ryan Thomas admired Samantha Rincon from the sports desk in the student media offices.
“She caught my eye from the first time I saw her,” he says. “She always had so much energy and she always had a smile on her face, so I liked her from the start.”
Thomas transferred into UMB, and spent two years on staff at the Mass Media.
“At the time I was only one journalism class into knowing anything about journalism, but I knew I liked to write so they were just like, hey here you go, have fun. Let’s all work together. I wound up being the sports editor, and it was pretty fun.”
He found a group of friends at the newspaper, and throughout his first year he would occasionally flirt with Samantha, who worked in a cubical near by.
“I don’t remember exactly the first time I met her or anything because it just kind of progressed, and it was kind of sophomoric.”
Thomas told Michael Hogan, the editor of the Mass Media, about his crush on the girl over at SAEC.
“I think he knew someone over there that was friends with her, and they both told each other that the other person was interested, so we started hanging out a little bit more.”
In his senior year, Thomas went to Pat’s Peak on the ski trip that SAEC put on each year, and on the ride up to the mountain he sat in the front of the bus with Samantha.
“We didn’t really leave each others’ side through the whole day, just hanging out, playing cards or something inside, and just having fun and being ourselves, and it just kind of happened from there, man it was fast. We started dating, and before I knew it she was asking me to move to Florida.”
While managing the sports section of the Mass Media, Thomas loved writing about the mens hockey team. They had a new head coach, Peter Balisle.
“He was a great guy to interview, so the stories wrote themselves. I’d just fill it up with quotes from him, and provide some insight. Following that team, it was nice to see them grow a little bit, and make a couple of strides, and by the next year they were pretty competitive in their conference.”
Thomas would sometimes travel with the team and he developed a friendship with the team manager, who helped him get an internship at the Boston Globe.
“It was a progression. I started at the newspaper, and one person to another person, I kind of networked out, and just it worked out.”
While working for the Globe, considering a move to Florida, Thomas found an internship in the communications department with the Tampa Bay Rays. Connections he made at the Boston Globe helped him land the position.
“I was going to use the restroom one day at the Globe, and I ran into Dan Shaughnessy either on the way in or on the way out, and he said, ‘How you doing?’ I told him that I had applied for an internship with the Tampa Bay Rays, and I was waiting to hear back from them, and then he was like, ‘I know Rick Vaugn, down in the communications department there, good friend of mine, I’ll put in a good word for you.’”
“To be honest with you I’d had very limited interactions with Dan up to that point. He was just being a nice guy doing something for a young nobody at the Globe. So he put in a good word for me, and I ended up getting the internship.”
He spent the entire 2010 season with the Rays, writing game notes, doing minor league reports, and putting together their media guides
“I was lucky enough to be part of the front office team when they went to the playoffs that year. They lost in the first round, but it was still a really cool experience, and then once the off season showed up, my internship was over so I went and looks for another job.”
He did odd jobs, some manual labor, and then in July of 2011 he got a call from his former boss at the Rays saying that they needed a replacement for an intern who had left for a masters program in Chicago.
“I jumped back on in a heartbeat. At the time the Rays were kind of floundering. They were around 500. They weren’t really in the playoff picture, and then they went on this crazy run, and if you followed the Red Sox at all you know that’s the year they crashed and burned, skidded into the finish line, and ended up losing out on the last day of the post season.”
Thomas got a front row seat to witness the drama.
“On the flip side the Rays finally overtook the Red Sox in the standings on that last day. It was really surreal because the last three months of the season I was there part of the Rays, and it was really weird because I had all of this passion for the Red Sox growing up and once I was enveloped in the whole push to make this historic run for the Rays, I wasn’t even thinking about that.”
“Everything was just focused on the job, so it was really quite an interesting moment in my life to take part in something like that, and the Rays kept coming back in that last game, and finally hit this home run in the 11th or 12th inning, and it was just hysteria.”
“Everyone was just going crazy, and I was up for almost 48 straight hours after that happened, because we had to finish the post season media guide, and just three months ago no one had post season on their minds. So we spent all night and the next day, and into the next morning working on this book, and editing everything.”
Thomas stayed with the Rays through the off season, and when it was all over he applied for a position with the MLB players alumni association.
“It’s my main responsibility there to book paid appearances for the former players, so I went from reporting, to writing game notes, to being on cold calls and trying to sell appearances for ball players, so it’s been about three and a half years to this point, and it’s going pretty well. I enjoy what I do. It’s been awesome.”
Now he lives in Florida married to Samantha, who works as a VIP tour guide in Disney World. They visit Boston about twice a year, and lately each time he’s visited, the campus looked a little different.
“I love to see that my alma mater is doing well, and expanding,” he says. “UMass prepared me well to be a successful person after college. It taught me what to expect, and how to prepare for the real world.”