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All in the Family: WIU Alumna Keeps Tradition Alive with the Burlington Bees

September 12, 2018


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From the Summer 2018 issue of Western: The Magazine for Alumni of Western Illinois University

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By Jodi Pospeschil MA '15

When Western Illinois University alumna Kim Parker '08 MBA '11 stepped on Community Field in Burlington, IA this spring as general manager of the Burlington Bees' baseball team, she not only became the first female in team history to do so, she also continued a family baseball legacy started by her father 18 years ago.

Just as Burlington has a rich history with minor league baseball, dating back to the late 1880s, Parker's family history is bound to the team, with her father, Chuck Brockett, recently retiring as the Bees' general manager.

Parker began her association with the team at age 15, when her father needed someone to sell 50/50 tickets and programs on game days at Community Field. Through the years, and during her undergraduate and graduate student years at Western, Parker continued her employment with the team and has worked in virtually every position in the ballpark. A few years ago, she became the Bees' assistant general manager

"I graduated from WIU in 2008, and the state of the economy helped me make the decision to go to graduate school," she said. "Then in 2011, the position opened up with the team, and I thought I would work here for a few years to get some experience. I felt it was a good fit."

In 2015, Parker was named the Rawlings Female Executive of the Year in the Midwest League. She took over as the team's general manager in March her father's retirement. She is the first female general manager in Bee's history and the fifth in the history of the Midwest League.

"Baseball is a long, grueling season, and my dad mentioned a few years back that he would like to retire from baseball—but, this was his life, so we didn't take him seriously," she said. "He told me, 'I would never leave if I didn't know you were extremely capable.'"

It has been difficult for Parker to come to work each morning knowing her father would not be in the office, as well. She drives to Burlington from Macomb each day, where she lives with her husband, Quintin Parker '08 MS '12, '16, an instructor in the WIU Department of Broadcasting and Journalism, and her daughter, Taryn.

Parker received her bachelor's degree in Spanish in 2008, with a minor in international business. She said her foreign language education at WIU has been important to her position with the Bees as more Latin American players join the league.

"Players come here from high school or college and from places like the Dominican Republic and Venezuela," she said. "It's extremely helpful to be able to communicate."

The Burlington Bees are a Class A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. The team is nearing the end of a six-year development contract with the Angels, and Parker is currently working on negotiating a new one. She said her MBA degree helps her every day with the business side of leading the Bees.

"WIU has a well-rounded curriculum, and the required classes in business basics really helped me," she said.

Because the Bees' organization is quite small, Parker's responsibilities are vast, including managing office and grounds keeping employees, setting the team's budget, ordering merchandise, advertising sales, maintaining the team's website and organizing game-day staff and volunteers.

The Bees play a 140-game season each year, with 70 games at home and 70 on the road.

Parker is responsible creating several initiatives related to the team, including a program that brings players to live in the homes of area families during the season to reduce players' expenses.

"The program has 19 families, and the players live rent-free and become part of these families," she said. "There are pictures of these families at players' weddings, and most families participate in the program every year. Some of our host families never miss a game."

WIU has a special place in Parker's heart because it's where she met her husband. She chose to come to WIU initially because it was close to home and she wanted to stay close to her family.

"I liked WIU because it was a little smaller," she said. "I was planning to study Spanish, and I liked that the class sizes were smaller; I paid attention to that. I also enjoyed getting to know my professors on a personal basis."

For more information about the Burlington Bees, visit GoBees.com.

Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations