Auburn Spotlight, Jake Holtrop '12

"What you learn in the classroom is important, but how you react in adverse situations in the real world will take you places."
Jake Holtrop '12
Media Relations Coordinator, Houston Astros

Spotlight Interview

When the Houston Astros won the 2017 World Series, Auburn University alumnus Jake Holtrop was in the stands as not only as a fan, but as a hired member of the organization. Holtrop was selected as the Astro’s media relations coordinator in August 2014 after serving as a media relations intern for six months. Consistently described as a hard-working young man while at school, he was a sports editor and writer with award-winning The Auburn Plainsman, as well as interning with the Auburn Network radio as production assistant. Born and raised in Chicago, he now resides in Houston.

How did you feel when the Astros became the 2017 World Series Champions?

The MLB postseason is a grind and, as you progress through it, the increased excitement becomes matched by the increased work load. So making it all the way to Game 7 of the World Series was an achievement in itself. The game was played at Dodger Stadium, while we had a watch party for the fans at Minute Maid Park. The game itself was just what we needed. Jumping out to a 5-0 lead, McCullers’ scoreless start and Charlie Morton closing out the final 4.0 innings all culminated with Altuve making the final out to put a bow on the season. Being able to celebrate that moment with coworkers and the 17,000 fans at Minute Maid Park was both amazing and a relief.

What was it like being on staff when the Astros secured their spot for the 2017 World Series?

It was an exciting moment, but it wasn’t a surprise. When I got here in 2013, the organization was in the process of turning things around. It had new ownership, new management and was even playing in a new league (they switched from NL to AL that year). That season was the last of three consecutive 100-plus loss seasons. Everything seemed to be at its lowest. I quickly learned that this was a just a necessary part of a long rebuilding process, and we were told that a run of success was on the horizon. When this season started and the club began winning a significant number of games, it felt right. Then the Astros cruised through the ALDS versus Boston and won a slugfest over the Yankees in the ALCS, which lead to a World Series matchup versus the Dodgers. At that point it felt inevitable. The Astros were going to win the World Series.

What were some of your biggest responsibilities while the Astros were playing in the series?

I spend most of my time during the season writing pregame and postgame notes for the media. We repackaged stats into a more digestible form and gave it to media and broadcasters. I also contributed to the Astros magazine, among other publications. Before, during and after the games we ran the press box, making sure everyone had what they needed to do their jobs. The same applied for the postseason, but on a much larger scale.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I enjoy watching baseball with the people I work with. At the end of the day this is a job, and it’s easy to get frustrated with the work. However, we are often reminded to take a step back and look at what we’re actually doing. We aren’t out there throwing balls and strikes, or turning double plays, but we are contributing to a product that brings enjoyment to so many people.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The hours. There were some weeks during the regular season, and the entire month of October, that were mostly spent at the ballpark. It makes it hard to maintain a healthy work balance. But the work is genuinely fun. We get to deal with a bevy of personalities that range from local and national media, to some of baseball’s royalty. They make every day and every task a fresh experience.

What is one of the biggest lessons you learned at Auburn that influences your career today?

Like a lot of students, I didn’t have the easiest road to getting my degree. With every challenge and roadblock that I faced, Auburn instilled a “figure it out” mentality. There is a time and place for pity and sympathy, but they won’t solve your problems. Only hard work and diligence will. That attitude followed me to Houston, and I believe that is the attitude that has kept me in my job. I think a lot of companies look for that in candidates. What you learn in the classroom is important, but how you react in adverse situations in the real world will take you places.

How does the time you spent at Auburn impact your daily work life?

Auburn taught me that every day is a new challenge, and challenges are meant to be faced head on. I take that mentality to work with me every day. And I never say “no.”

While in college, you worked course maintenance at Moore’s Mill Golf Club before class. What was your schedule like while you were a student?

I did. And that may have been the most influential part of my time at Auburn. I left Auburn after my freshman year because of poor grades and expensive out-of-state tuition. After a year of community college back home, I felt I had to return to Auburn and finish what I started. That is what ultimately led me to Moore’s Mill. I started part-time in 2009, while taking a full load of classes at Auburn. I worked on the maintenance crew cutting grass, spreading fertilizer, installing irrigation systems and laying drainage pipe, among other things. Most of the part-timers were Auburn turf grass students along with a handful of full-time staff, and then there was me. After the 2009-2010 school year, it was clear that working part-time and paying out-of-state tuition would not be enough. I asked my boss to let me work full time for a year so I could become an Alabama resident. I also took night classes at Southern Union to slowly chip away at credit hours. When I returned to Auburn full time, I kept up a healthy work load at Moore’s Mill. My time at the golf course was my first real lesson in hard work. Long days during the week and waking up at 5 a.m. on weekends was tough, especially for an aspiring college student. And the work could wear you out. But I loved it. I loved the work, and the people I worked with. Looking back at my time in Auburn, I can honestly say that I would not be here without that experience.

What was your dream job as a child?

I never really had a dream job. I just wanted to be happy with what I was doing. A few years ago it was cutting lines into the 18th hole at Moore’s Mill, and today it’s working for a World Series Champion.

Did you always want to work with baseball?

Not necessarily. But baseball has always played a big role in my life. So turning it into a profession was a no-brainer. If I did something else, I’d still watch baseball. So why not do it on the clock? I feel extremely fortunate to have made my way into MLB, especially in Houston.

You grew up outside of Chicago. What made you choose Auburn?

My neighbor’s son graduated from Auburn when I was in middle school. He is the one that put Auburn on the radar for me. When I graduated high school my options had narrowed down to a few small northern colleges. I can’t remember what happened to change my mind, but a couple of weeks before classes started I decided that I’d try something new. Auburn was the only school I could think of that was a fresh opportunity, with a little bit of familiarity. So I packed up my car and headed south.

Where would you like to see your career go in the future?

Upward and onward. I’m not going to confine myself to a specific role or industry. I just want to have fun, and be successful doing it.