An interview with an MLB Cave Dweller contestant, Katie Cernek

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In a small town in southern Wisconsin, where the cattle outnumber the human population, a young woman is waiting to see if her life is about to change in a BIG way.  21 year old Katie Cernek is willing to trade in the summer evenings full of crickets singing their lullabies to the sparkling stars above and the “everybody knows everybody” way of life for the bright lights and  fast pace of New York City.  

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Her aspirations are not those of being a big Broadway star, or the next Oscar Award winning actress, or even the next musical sensation.  Her aspiration?  Baseball.  She wants to go to New York City so she can watch baseball.  She’s more than willing to put her job as a book keeper for her family’s business to move to the 692 Broadway, New York City so she can watch every single MLB baseball game of the season.  Katie was announced this past Wednesday that, through online fan voting, she has gone from the Top 52 to the Top 30 contestants for the 2013 MLB Fan Cave!  She is the only one in the Top 30 who would be representing Cub Nation.

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Katie has graciously taken the time to answer some questions for us about herself and about what happens next!

Q: How did you become a Cub fan?

Katie: I have been a Cubs fan since birth. Before I knew how to walk, Dad and I were playing soft toss with a rag ball. My cousins and I would play stick ball in Grandma’s orchard. We’d flip a coin to decide who got to be the Cubs (they’d always win). My dad played a huge role in my becoming a Cubs fan. When I was little, bedtime stories consisted of stories about how he only paid a buck or two to get into games. Ernie Banks was one of his favorite players, and Mr. Cub became a permanent figure in the tales of heaven and heartbreak I heard each night.

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Q: Can you give us a little background on yourself?

Katie: Sure! Like I mentioned before, my dad is the reason why I became interested in the Cubs. We spent a lot of time listening to games on WGN. Growing up listening to Ron Santo on the radio is an experience that I wish more people could have. He was hilarious, and his undying love for the Cubs was unmatched by anyone. You couldn’t help but catch some of his enthusiasm during the broadcasts. Eventually, that enthusiasm became a part of everyday life, not just during the games.

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Q:  Who is your favorite ALL TIME Cub? 

Katie:  I would have to say that it would be Todd Walker. He wasn’t a guy that made headlines all the time, and I think that’s why I loved him so much. I tend gravitate toward the underdog-type players, for some reason.

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Q:  Who is your favorite Current Cub?
Katie:  Well, it was Tony Campana! He was always the ultimate underdog; from battling (and beating!) cancer as a kid, to playing baseball at a Major League level is an incredible feat. He is definitely an inspiring person off the field. It’s just too bad he hasn’t figured out how to hit out of the infield yet.     But, to answer your question, my current favorite Cub is Anthony Rizzo. He’s got a bright future ahead of him and I can’t wait to see what he will do in Chicago.
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Q:  What made you decide to try out for the MLB Fan Cave?

Katie:  MLB.com sent out an email announcing the contest, and it caught my eye. Naturally, I was watching the World Series on the night the email came through, and it just felt right. I opened the message, read the instructions, and began.

Q:  For those who may now know what the MLB Fan Cave is, can you tell us a little about it?

Katie:  The FanCave is an actual place in New York. It is really cool. If you google it, a whole bunch of awesome pictures will pop up. It is all baseball, all the time. So basically, it is almost heaven. 

Q.  What are some of the “perks” of being a “Cave Dweller”?

Katie: There would be so much baseball happening! Meeting players, talking with other passionate fans, competing in baseball-themed challenges, and watching baseball all the time is probably the best thing ever.

 Q:   What process did you have to go through to be chosen as a candidate?

Katie:  First, I had to fill out an application. In the application, writing samples were required. I also had to make an application video. Then, I waited. And waited. And… waited.

Q:  Tell us a little about your submission video (above).

Katie:  A group of us got together to do the filming, and we got the whole thing put together in a day. It was an eye-opening experience to the world of filmography and video editing. I’ve done smaller projects before, but did not realize how much work goes into it.

Q:  Have you ever been to New York City?

Katie: No, I haven’t! I’ve always wanted to go there, so this opportunity to possibly go there is very exciting!

Q:  Where can fans go to vote?

Katie: The voting portion of the contest is actually closed! Your votes all counted and you got me to the Top 30! And for that, I am eternally grateful.

 Q:  Now that you have made it to the Top 30 contestants, what happens next?

Katie:  Well, in the Top 30 we are engaged in a series of interviews  (in Arizona) and challenges to vie for the coveted title of “Cave Dweller.”

Q:   What do your friends and family think about all of this?

Katie:  They are so supportive and excited about it! Mom has been watching my #1 fan, voting like crazy and telling everybody she knows to go vote, too. She is a trooper and I am so thankful for her excitement about it! When my closest friends found out, they bombarded me with texts and phone calls. It is overwhelming. I love it.

Q:  If you are chosen as a Cave Dweller, will you be able to see your family at all?

Katie:  I hope so! I honestly don’t know. I’m sure there will be time to Skype and whatnot.

Q:  If chosen, what will you be looking forward to the most?

Katie:  Baseball, of course! This offseason has been too long. I’m ready for the National Anthem to be sung before each game and the umpire calling, “Play ball!” All the other elements of the Cave would be amazing, but baseball is really what I look forward to.

Q:  What happens if (gasp) you have to share the Cave with a Cardinal fan?

Katie:  You know, I’m sure we’ll get along just fine. As strong as the rivalry is, the Cardinals organization deserves a lot of respect for what they’ve done. They aren’t just lucky – they’ve earned their reputation. So, if that time comes, as long as the Cardinals fan respects my love for my team and the game of baseball, we’re good!

Q:  What are your thoughts about having to live with a bunch of strangers for the entire baseball season?

Katie:  It’s exciting! We all have baseball in common, so in a sense, they wouldn’t be complete strangers. If I get to the next round, I will look forward to spending ridiculous amounts of time with some great fans!

Q:  Is there anything special you would take with you to get autographs on?

Katie:  You know, I would just make sure to have a stock of baseballs to be signed. Honestly, I’d rather have a conversation with a player and get to know him a little bit rather than just get an autograph. Of course, getting the conversation AND the autograph is the ultimate goal of any player encounter.

Q:  Many players, past and present, visit the Cave throughout the season.  If there could be ONE player you could choose to visit, who would it be?

Katie:  That is a tough one. There are so many players that I want to meet, but I guess the one that I would want to meet the most is… Ryan Theriot. I know, I know, people in Chicago consider him a Benedict Arnold for his comments in St. Louis. But when he was with the Cubs, he was, hands down, my absolute favorite player. I never got the chance to meet him. So, if I had to pick just one, it would be him.

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Q:  The MLB Fan Cave also provides many concerts throughout the season.  Is there anyone in particular you would love to see perform at the Cave?

Katie:  I am a big fan of country music. So, I would love to see a country act in there, specifically Eric Church. His music is rockin’. And he’s a little weird, which I find to be entertaining!

Q:  On your Twitter page, you have had many players send their “congratulations” messages to you for making it to the Top 30.  Who are some of the players who have congratulated you, or sent you “good luck” tweet?

Katie:  The players have been extremely supportive, which is awesome! I’ve gotten support from Edwin Jackson and Ian Stewart; Dustin Geiger and Rock Shoulders; and even a former Dodger, Paul Lo Duca put in a good word for me. The amount of support from everyone has been incredible. I am amazed and honored to be representing the Cubs and all the fans in this adventure!

Q:  Is there anything else you would like to add?

Katie: I would just like to say a humungous THANK YOU to everybody who voted for me, supported me, and offered kind words of encouragement during the first round! I am completely honored that you guys think I’m worthy of representing you and the Cubs in the contest! It is incredibly exciting. I can’t stop smiling! 🙂 

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From MLB.com:

 MLB Fan Cave hosts fan events, concerts, MLB player and celebrity appearances, as well as the nine Cave Dwellers who are attempting to watch every game of the 2013 MLB season while chronicling their experiences online through videos, blogs and social media. Along the way, they are competing with one another in a series of challenges, with fans online helping decide who gets to stay in the MLB Fan Cave and who gets eliminated, with one eventual winner crowned before the end of the World Series. Fans can follow all of the activity on Facebook and Twitter (@MLBFanCave)

Throughout the season,  the Cave Dwellers will attempt to watch every single MLB game, all while using social media and the internet to document their thoughts, They will also undergo similar challenges to those they will be doing in Arizona next week that will help, along with online fan voting and judges, determine the ultimate 2013 Cave Dweller.  Last year’s winner was 25 year old Californian Ashley Chavez, a Giants fan.  Her prize package included (from the MLB.com press release)

 

  • A “golden ticket” granting her a season pass to all 30 MLB ballparks for the 2013 season
  • A $10,000 prize
  • Her own customized bobblehead trophy with a commemorative plaque
  • A World Series gift bag containing the same collection of officially licensed merchandise given to the participating players
  • A Playstation 3 or Xbox console with every MLB licensed video game
  • $500 in product from Majestic
  • $500 in product from ’47 brand
  • A fitted New Era Authentic Collection cap for all 30 teams
  • A collection of Budweiser gifts including a grill/cooler, mini-fridge, foosball table and trunk cooler
  • A $250 gift card from Mastercard
  • A $150 gift card from Taco Bell
  • One year’s supply of Head & Shoulders shampoo
  • A copy of “The World Series: History of the Fall Classic,” a new 4-disc DVD from MLB Productions

Katie said she wasn’t sure what this year’s winner would receive, but this writer is thinking if it’s anything like last year’s prizes, it would be an amazing package!

You can follow Katie on Twitter.  You can also read more of her Cubs thoughts at A View from the Bleachers website.  You can also read more about the MLB Fan Cave (and hopefully we will have a reason to check that site on a regular basis here soon!)

I want to thank Kaite for taking the time to take the time to answer the questions for us.  I also want to wish her the best of luck as she leaves Monday Arizona where she will be undergoing a battery of challenges and interviews to try to get to be one of  the final 9 Cave Dwellers.  Whatever happens, you have represented Cub Nation well already!  Go Cubs!

One of the challenges the 2012 Cave Dwellers had to face:

About ryno4ever

I'm a 3rd generation Cub fan who lives and breathes with this team! I've ridden the roller coaster of Cubdom since 1984. I've celebrated the highs, I've cried for days on the lows. I have a teenage son who I have blessed/cursed him with the Cubbie Blue blood. On April 1, 2011, my son, dad and I were chosen to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day at Wrigley Field and I'm pretty sure that there isn't much else out there in life that will ever top that day!

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