Inside the Core: Chris Wilson

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“Inside the Core” is a month-long interview series with members of the Fresno Grizzlies front office. Each interview will be unique in its own way and provide a glimpse into the path each member has forged on their way to working for the club. 

Q: Having lived in Fresno since you were born, have you ever been tempted to change locations?

CW: Yes, I actually have. Following my last position in education back in 2012, I left for an internship with the San Jose Sabercats of the Arena Football League. I got a job within the football operations department where I basically did the job of a scout at their training facility. I studied film of incoming players or players who had been cut from NFL Rosters. I did that for three months until I got called for a full-time job back here with the Fresno Grizzlies.

Q: How did you feel about coming back to Fresno?

CW: It was bittersweet to be honest, because I was looking for that experience to branch out and try something new. But, it also felt good knowing that I was returning to a good support system. I had interned at Grizzlies in 2011 so it was very familiar coming back.

Q: What about Fresno resonates with you the most?

CW: Family. I have a relatively small family so I’ve always looked to my group of friends as my extended family. Fresno for me has always been home. Also, I think Fresno State is a big factor in my life because I’m an alumnus there and it’s a big sense of pride. I was the first person to graduate high school from my mother’s side of the family and the first person to graduate college from either side.

Q: Who was your hero growing up?

CW: My dad as far as family goes. He was a humble, hardworking guy. He was a mechanic his whole life and worked two jobs at times to support the family. I think my work ethic and humility come from him. On the flip-side my grandfather on my mom’s side was the sports nut. He was the one who followed baseball and all types of sports. He inspired my competitive nature and ultimately got me really into sports.

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Q: As a kid, what did you think you’d grow up to be?

CW: As a kid, actually other than sports, I was addicted to marine biology. I always wanted to swim with Shamu or something. I loved the Monterey Bay Aquarium and I wanted to work with animals in the ocean. I had a passion for being close to the beach.

Q: Can you describe your best childhood memory?

CW: When I was about 13 years old I got to go on an RV trip from Fresno all the way to Galveston, Texas with my grandparents and two cousins. For 33 days I was in a motorhome traveling across the United States. It was my first time out of California. The highlight of the entire trip was getting to visit NASA in Houston. It really inspired all of the creative juices that got me into wanting to further my life and education.

Q: Where did you go to high school?

CW: I went to Edison High School (Fresno, Calif). I was in a program called G.A.T.E., which stood for Gifted and Talented Education.

Q: Did you participate in any extracurricular activities?

CW: Yes, I played football and baseball all the way through high school. I also participated in journalism briefly with the student newspaper writing for the sports section my sophomore and junior year. I started working at the age of 16 at Carl’s Jr. so there wasn’t much time for anything else.

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Q: How would you describe your college experience?

CW: I had a different college experience than most. Out of high school I thought I was done with school. I went to the military briefly and I was medically separated. I came back and started working. Then I decided a couple of years later that I needed to go back to school. I didn’t start college until I was 21, but I was really honed in on what I was trying to accomplish. I didn’t do a lot of partying or anything like that. I really got in the zone with school and not only completed my bachelors, but also received my masters degree in a little over five years.

Q: Is it right you initially pursued a kinesiology major before switching majors?

CW: I started college thinking that I was going to do something in the field of pharmacy. That quickly changed after I took a couple classes. From there, I wanted to get into physical therapy. I always had a passion or interest in the medical field. I thought it would be a fun, good-paying job. I started doing kinesiology and after two years of doing exercise science, I decided that my mind was more business and people savvy than scientific, so I switched to sports administration. That allowed me to be comfortable and more me.

Q: What encouraged you to get your graduate degree?

CW: I always knew that I wanted to pursue something beyond a bachelors degree when I was in college. I think a bachelors degree is not as powerful as it once was. Another reason is I felt once I started working in the industry, I would be so consumed that I probably wouldn’t have time go back and get it later. I have always had a passion for education. I worked in education before sports for about six years and having the ability to go back and teach is something I now have the ability to do.

Q: Now a little removed from college, did you ever imagine yourself in the position you’re in now?

CW: Yea, I think so. The moment that I committed to a sports administration degree I knew that I was going to do something in sports. I didn’t know exactly what, but I always felt passion of working with the game, athletes, a coaching staff, things like that.

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Q: As you move forward, what are some goals you’ve set for yourself?

CW: I think baseball or sport operations is the career field I want to go into, so I really want to work towards learning that craft, and hopefully get into a position where I can progress to Director of Baseball Operations. This season is my first year as baseball operations coordinator so right now it’s really about learning the lingo, the trade, and getting used to how everything runs.

Q: What are you most looking forward to in your new role as Baseball Operations Coordinator where your main duty will be Visiting Clubhouse Manager?

CW: For me, it’s learning. I have a dedication to learning and I believe this isn’t the last stop on my road. I think that learning the ins and outs of this job is very important for my future. I’m really excited about what my role will be like a few years down the road.

Q: What is your favorite part about your job?

CW: This is tough, because I love my job but I would say my favorite part is the fact of getting to be around sports every day. I think there’s something special about sports beyond what’s between the lines. Being around the atmosphere is rewarding, but it can also be very consuming with your life and a lot of times you have to spend long hours, long nights, and early mornings around work. There’s no 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.  that’s for sure. You have to try and squeeze in time with family and friends as best you can.

Q: Any experiences that shaped who you are?

A: There is one thing. I did a lot of coaching and my very first season coaching I did really bad. My teams weren’t very good. I coached my first football team and I think we only won one game. The following season I coached basketball and I ended up breaking my arm in practice. That basketball season we finished the season 21-5. There’s just something humbling about getting knocked down and then being able to pick yourself up by the boot straps and come back and still be a leader. So I think as far as my career goes I think one of my strongest traits is being a leader.

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Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

CW: I still love to participate in sports. I play indoor soccer currently and in the past I’ve played in a baseball league. I still often play basketball, football, and also lift weights and stay active.

Q: If you were to describe yourself in one word what would it be?

A: Confident

Q: What is a quote that resonates with you?

CW: “Success is not final, failure is never fatal, but its courage that counts.” – Winston Churchill. It’s a quote that reminds me, do not get to high on your successes, don’t get too low on your failures, and just be brave and have courage.

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