There are a lot of reasons the Pittsburgh Pirates are competitive in 2012.
Outfielder Andrew McCutchen is putting up MVP numbers, James McDonald and the pitching staff have been spectacular at times and manager Clint Hurdle has instilled confidence in his young team.
But perhaps the reason for their success isn't the team in uniform, but rather the team off the field, highlighted by Dunkirk native Roxanne Herrington.
Pittsburgh Pirates ballpark operations intern Roxanne Herrington at PNC Park where she performs a regular pre-game walk-through to ensure the stadium is in pristine condition for the fans.
On game days, Roxanne Herrington assists in the centrally located Command Post, where security personnel are able to view virtually every square inch of PNC Park.
Herrington, a senior at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, is currently a ballpark operations intern with the Pirates.
"It's different on game days and non-game days," Herrington described her duties at PNC Park. "Non-game days are just 9-5. It's a lot of catching up with paperwork, dealing with the budget and dealing with staffing.
"On a game day, it's a lot more making sure the ballpark is ready before the fans get here," she continued. "(I have) a cleaning checklist and when the staff gets there, I make sure they're in the right places. It's a lot of dealing with fans during the game, too."
One might think that applying for an internship with a Major League Baseball team would be detailed and involved, but Herrington explained it was quite straightforward.
"I researched a lot online about internships with professional teams," she added. "(The Pirates) were one of the baseball teams. I really wanted to do baseball because I play softball.
"I had to do an application," she continued. "I had to send them a hard resume and an online resume. I went there and met with the entire operations staff. They asked me my interests and why I'd like the job. Then they offered me the position."
When a Pirates fan comes to PNC Park, they enjoy the stunning Pittsburgh skyline, an exciting baseball team and perhaps a famous Primanti Bros. sandwich, but Herrington stresses that there's a lot more to it - and learning has been her favorite part of the job.
"Just learning how much goes into it," she explained. "The marketing, sales, finance are all separate departments. I've been doing security and operations ... There's so much that goes into running the game for the fans."
As one might expect, Herrington was both nervous and excited the first time she came to PNC Park for work.
"I was really nervous," she laughed. "I really didn't know what to expect. They gave me a tour of the ballpark on my first day. They showed me all the ins and outs of it."
That in and of itself would be a lot of baseball fans' dream come true until they heard Herrington's favorite story from her three months on the job.
"It was my second week and our first homestand," she began. "After the game we had a fireworks display. The senior director of security took me down to the dugout to watch the fireworks. That was pretty awesome."
Although this is Herrington's first season with the Pirates, she already knows the difference a winning team on the field can make.
"It's a lot more work," she said. "There's more staff that's needed because of all the sellouts. We need more police and there's a lot more problems with fans, too. There's more ejections because people are getting rowdy because (the Pirates) are winning. They get a little out-of-hand and that creates more work for us."
As if getting acclimated to a new work environment wasn't enough, Herrington also was thrown into big-city life.
"It was definitely culture shock," she admitted. "Even though it's only a few hours away, it's so much different from living in Dunkirk. The traffic was the biggest thing I couldn't get used to at first. There's always people everywhere no matter what time it is."
Herrington, also a pitcher for the Edinboro softball team, doesn't have an exact plan after graduation, but knows she wants her future to include professional sports.
"I was thinking about going to grad school," she explained. I think having grad school on my resume would help. There's an open position in guest relations and management was talking to me about what they look for.
"My experience with this top-notch organization has been so inspiring that my focus is clear. My goal for the future is to turn a dream internship into a dream job with the Pittsburgh Pirates."
Nearly every kid dreams of playing professional sports, but working for a team may be the next best thing and Herrington had some advice for anyone hoping to break into the world of sports.
"A lot of people think they can't get in (the business) because their grades aren't good enough," she stated. "There's a lot more to it than that. Communication skills are definitely on top of the list. They also told me they look for community service because that shows you're willing to branch out and go the extra mile."
A 2009 Dunkirk High School graduate, Herrington was not quite 2 years old the last time the Pirates made the playoffs. But she's been part of something special in 2012 and is living her dream of working in professional sports.