Dana Feigenbaum grew up going to baseball games and spent the past 18 months working in Minor League Baseball. Using her social media savvy, she’s connected with fans and others in the business. Feigenbaum joined us to discuss her career, social media and Tommy John surgery.
Feigenbaum grew up watching baseball at historic Fenway Park. She witnessed all-time great Red Sox players Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz and others. Her experiences throughout her childhood cemented her love for America’s Pastime.
“I grew up going to baseball games at Fenway (my Mom has had season tickets before I was even born) which started my love for baseball. I like how slow (or fast) a game can go. It gives you time to take it all in and experience everything that is going on around you.
In 2004 I experienced my first World Series game with my Mom at the age of 10. I was 10 years old and I was at one of the most historic venues in sports, watching my favorite team, make history. Looking back this was the turning point in my love for baseball. I have never experienced something like this in my life. In addition, I was fortunate enough to go back with my Mom in 2007 to watch history unfold again.”
History would unfold before her eyes once again in 2016, thanks to an unscheduled flight diversion. This time, however, she would find herself on the hallowed grounds of Wrigley Field, on the night the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in Cleveland.
“I was on my way down to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to visit my best friend Rheagan and go to the Alabama vs. LSU football game. My plane ended up getting diverted to Milwaukee and finally landed where my connection was in Chicago; I had missed my flight to Louisiana. Ironically, this was the night that the Cubs made history and won the World Series. While they were not at home, I ended up going down to Wrigley to experience another baseball memory that I will never forget. Even being a Red Sox fan, I felt for this community. I had gone through it 10 years ago, and it was great to see the city rally around the team.”
Her gymnastic career would meet baseball in an unfortunate way. During her floor routine as a high school senior, she injured her elbow. The injury resulted in Tommy John surgery and ultimately forced her to retire from the sport that she loved.
“Tommy John surgery for me was most definitely a life-changing experience. I was on the floor doing a back 1 and 1/2 punch front and my feet got behind me and I fell on my elbow. I screamed so loud I made the girl competing on beam fall off. I had never had a major injury in all my years of gymnastics, and to get hurt my senior year of high school was not easy to deal with.
The recovery process was most definitely not easy. First off… I got hurt at the end of February. My Dad (of course being the lawyer he is, worker comp lawyer to be specific) had me get many different opinions. We decided it would be best (because they thought my UCL wasn’t completely torn) to do rehab. I drove up to Suffield, CT 3 times a week to see our teams PT to help me get back to gymnastics. I returned to gymnastics that same July but still in pain. I went and got an MRI with dye this time (only had an MRI before) and it turned out I had completely torn my UCL and a lot of other things as well.
I was a freshman in college (Ursinus College), on a new team and I was already hurt. I hated my life, I couldn’t do the sport I loved. I contemplated transferring, giving up and never getting back to gymnastics again, but that was not who I was. Even on the worst days when I was in the training room with my Athletic Trainer Pam (who I love to death, and helped me get back as fast as possible), those days have shaped me into who I am today.
My gymnastics coach Jeff Schepers, who I became very close friends with over my college career and still to this day, said I would never get back to doing gymnastics. He will admit, he never thought I would do gymnastics again. Just because of that, I wanted to prove him wrong, get back and be better than ever. Guess what, I did it, and I shocked him. It took a complete year of hard work, watching everyone succeed and watching from the sides. It was worth every single day of struggling.
Social media has become an increasingly important way to reach people and interact with fans. Feigenbaum’s foundations for social media success were built during her time at Villanova.
“My boss Katie Rose Thorton at Villanova really helped my foundation for social media. Still, to this day, I go to her with questions I have. Social media is really an art in today’s society. One of my favorite memories from Villanova was getting to cover the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden. It was my senior year spring break. It was an experience and journey I will remember for forever. Looking back, I didn’t realize how lucky I was.
Being able to connect the fans that were not able to make the trip up to the Garden was so rewarding and amazing to see the response from the tournament alone. Another favorite from Villanova was the redemption game against Georgetown. The ‘Cats had gone to DC and got killed by Georgetown. Then the Hoyas came to the Wells Fargo Center in Philly, in front of a sold out and electric crowd. We used this platform called Tagboard. It is a way for fans to post on social media and get fans posts on the video board. I found at Villanova that fans love to see themselves on the board. We ended up getting the hashtag for that game trending nationally and to top it off Villanova beat Georgetown in front of a sold out crowd.”
Proficiency in social media is a prerequisite for working in the rapidly changing, ultra-competitive sports world. Connecting on social media and growing her brand is one of Feigenbaum’s favorite parts of the day. Building a social media presence takes hard work and time, but one click can ruin it all.
“My advice is less is more on social. If you are posting a photo of something, let it breathe and let your followers interpret it the way they want. If the photo is obvious of something going on, there is no need to explain it in the caption. You have to be creative and outside the box in order to spark up a conversation on social media. Be willing to take that crazy step that no one else may take.
Feigenbaum spent part of 2016 and 2017 working in MiLB in a variety of roles including promotions, on-field hosting and social media. Ultimately, she is working towards her goal of being a sideline reporter down the road.
“I love being in the sports environment. Being a reporter on TV would allow me to connect with so many more fans. I’d love to have the opportunity to tell stories of players, staff and even fans.”
*Photo courtesy of Dana Feigenbaum