In his perfect field
KSU alum is at home working for Atlanta Braves
KENNESAW, Ga. (Apr 18, 2018) — Robert Stewart’s childhood dream of becoming a professional baseball player didn’t come true. However, he found a different way to join the organization he wanted to be part of from the day he attended his first major league baseball game.
“I always said, if I can’t be a player, I want to work for the Atlanta Braves,” said Stewart, who graduated from Kennesaw State University in December 2016 with a degree in sport management.
Stewart, 24, accomplished that goal following his graduation from KSU, when he took a corporate partnership sales trainee position with the Braves. Stewart made a good impression and was promoted in November 2017 to account executive for premium partnerships, selling premium seating and suites at SunTrust Park.
Working for his favorite baseball team has given Stewart an outlook he appreciates every day. A Cobb County native and lifelong Braves fan, Stewart can take a short walk from his office beyond the right-field stands and look out across SunTrust Park.
“There are times in the day I’ll come out and just take in all of this,” Stewart said. “It’s picture-perfect. It is something special. There is never a moment I don’t love being here.”
Stewart’s affinity for the Braves began when he attended his first game at age 5 — with an encounter well before the first pitch. He and his father passed through the turnstiles at Turner Field, the Braves’ previous home, and a greeter asked if they were visiting the stadium for the first time.
“My dad was just so happy to let the greeter know, ‘This is his first time enjoying a Braves game, and we’re here together, father and son,’” Stewart said. “It was from that moment that I was captured, but my father also was captured – because he knew we were somewhere that they value their fans coming for an experience greater than just seeing a game.”
Stewart loved baseball from the time he was old enough to pick up a tiny plastic bat and hit balls tossed by his father, and he grew up playing in youth baseball leagues and on travel teams. What drew him most to the game was the team aspect. Stewart said his parents and coaches instilled that “there is never an individuality to it. There always is a component that you can be helping someone else.”
The highlight of Stewart’s playing career was his senior year at Hillgrove High School in Powder Springs, when he helped the baseball team win the region championship and finish as state runner-up. However, that happened only after Stewart was cut from the team as a sophomore and junior, and he committed to work as hard as he could to earn a spot on the roster as a senior.
“That taught me resilience and taught me perseverance,” Stewart said. “It taught me at a young age that, in life, if you don’t work as hard at your craft as you possibly can, you always can be replaced.”
Stewart knew his playing days were over after high school, but still wanted to stay connected to the sport he loved. In college, he turned his focus to a career on the business side of baseball.
While pursuing his sport management degree at Kennesaw State, Stewart worked part time for the Atlanta Braves for two seasons – first in community affairs and then as a merchandise supervisor. When he crossed the stage to receive his degree, Stewart already had accepted a position in the Braves’ sales trainee program.
“It was firmly cemented there that I had a true calling to the sport of baseball,” he said.
Stewart gave Kennesaw State a great deal of credit for preparing him for the profession he finds so fulfilling. Along with KSU readying him for the business world, Stewart said he appreciated the diversity he experienced in his classes and throughout campus.
“Through that, you’re learning relationships – and not just about who a person is, but where they come from,” he said.
“I attribute a lot of my professional development to Kennesaw State University,” Stewart continued. “Kennesaw State opens you up to opportunity, and they don’t deny you a chance at anything. I tell people all the time that Kennesaw State is a university that is rich in tradition and that taught me how special things are.”
– Paul Floeckher
Photos by David Caselli
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the second-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 126 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.