by Kari Croop
Did you know that the Braves franchise started in Boston in 1871 and is the oldest continuously operating franchise in the major leagues? Or that the great Babe Ruth once wore a Braves uniform? Or that the team won 14 straight division titles between 1991 and 2005, setting a professional sports record?
Carolyn Serra (M.S. ’93) knows. After all, it’s her job to know all this and more.
As director of the Ivan Allen Jr. Braves Museum and Hall of Fame at Turner Field, Serra lives and breathes all things Braves. Her duties encompass everything from marketing and public relations to VIP tours and managing special events, including the annual Braves Hall of Fame ceremony.
This position, which she’s held since the museum opened in 1997, is a good fit for Serra, who’s been involved in sports her whole life. Before taking the museum directorship, she served from 1994-96 as director of media relations for the Atlanta Paralympic Organizing Committee as well as deputy press chief during the actual games. As a child growing up in her native Canada, she participated in several sports and went on to play soccer at the college level for Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business and her team won the prestigious CIAU title (Canada’s equivalent of the NCAA) during her freshman year. Her late aunt, Carol Anne Letheren – who served as an Olympics gymnastics judge in 1976 (the year Nadia Comăneci scored a perfect 10) and eventually became president of the Canadian Olympic Association – was also a major influence.
“When I moved here in 1992 for my master’s in sports administration, my dorm was right across from Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, which is where the Braves played before moving to Turner Field,” recalls Serra. “So I didn’t have a car, but I could walk to my classes at Georgia State University, and then I, of course, went to many games at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium.”
As fate would have it, that was the same year the Braves were playing the Toronto Blue Jays in the World Series, the first series to include games played outside the United States. And for the record? The Braves lost, with the Blue Jays’ win representing the first time a team based outside the U.S. had ever taken the World Series title.
“Right when I arrived, we were almost in post-season, so that was a thrill for me to be here,” she says. “I hate to admit it, but at the time I was a Toronto Blue Jays fan. That has changed.”
Serra is all too aware that she has what some would term a “dream job,” but getting it took a lot of hard work. As soon as the Braves’ season came to a close in 1992, she volunteered in the team’s front office in the PR department. She took on a formal internship the following year while she pursued her degree, and she also put in plenty of hours working for the Atlanta Hawks, the Atlanta Knights and at the Georgia Dome.
“When I was in school, I volunteered for literally every event that came to town,” she says. “You really get a feel for the different areas that are open and available in sports. At the same time, you’re meeting a lot of people and just learning who they are and what they do. After that, generally, if you work hard and put in the time, things fall into place.”
Serra even met her husband, Glen, while she was working for the Braves. And the couple’s two daughters, Brooklyn and Marina, are getting to the age where they enjoy coming to the ballpark and watching games. (Although, lately, Marina has expressed an interest in ballet, a sport Serra admits she knows very little about.)
“They think it’s kind of neat that their mom works at Turner Field,” she says. “I’m fortunate because baseball’s tough, especially as a woman, to be able to manage a family and work here. But this job’s been great because I’m able to balance my family life with baseball. It’s the perfect fit.”
This story was originally published in the Fall 2010 issue of the College of Education's Milestones magazine.