Ocoee alum juggles career as angler with side jobs in baseball

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  • | 10:41 p.m. July 8, 2015
Ocoee alum juggles career as angler with side jobs in baseball
Ocoee alum juggles career as angler with side jobs in baseball
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Sean Blackketter grew up around baseball and fishing.

Today, he gets paid to do both.

Blackketter not only spends time on the water as a professional fisherman for Disney but also works as an umpire and is an intern for the Winter Garden Squeeze this summer.

“Fishing and baseball have always been a big influence in my life — my dad put me in both,” Blackketter said. “My dad took me fishing every weekend. Fishing and baseball is my life pretty much, (and) I get to do both as my jobs now.”

Graduating from Ocoee High School in 2009, Blackketter currently is studying business with a minor in sports business management at the University of Central Florida. His connection with the Florida Collegiate Summer League and umpiring originates from his days with the Ocoee Knights baseball team in high school. Blackketter played as a catcher, and Adam Bates, a longtime umpire who is now the general manager for the Winter Garden Squeeze, often stood as the umpire behind him.

“We just struck up a friendship,” Bates said. “Sean is very special to me, and I feel like he’s like my third son.”

Inspired in part by Bates, Blackketter went to professional umpire school after graduating high school and began umpiring for Bates in the FCSL’s Futures Wood-bat League. Interning with the Squeeze became a natural fit given his chosen course of study at UCF.

Blackketter’s best friend is also an intern with the Squeeze. Keith Hellebrand was a pitcher at Ocoee High School while Blackketter was a catcher. Because of this, they have a much closer friendship than many people that were on their team. Now, they strengthen their bond as a team in Winter Garden.

“It’s really helped a lot, bonding-wise,” Hellebrand said. 

In his second summer with the Squeeze, Hellebrand is working on his broadcasting experience as a radio-television major at UCF. As the two have been working together during the summer, they have grown closer and developed as young professionals. Bates recalls when Blackketter first started, he was very quiet. Now, though, the former Knight is increasingly vocal in his role with the team — a skill that should serve him well as he grows as a professional.

“I challenged him to become a people-person,” Bates said.

Blackketter usually starts his day at 5 a.m. For his role with Disney, he spends all day fishing with families on vacation. Blackketter started with Disney three years ago, working his way up to being a fisherman about 29 months ago. A few times this summer, he has gone directly from the boats at Disney to whichever ballfield at which the Squeeze is playing that day.

The discipline and responsibility honed through juggling two positions this summer has contributed to his professional development.

“He’s got some maturity and professionalism that not everybody has,” Bates said.

What has been important to Bates when choosing interns for the Squeeze is maintaining a local feel to the team. Many of the interns and staff are local or returning to the team.

“I just want to show these kids — be it our players, be it our staff — there’s more than just balls and strikes in what goes on,” Bates said.

Bates said having a pair of best friends on his staff of interns continues the legacy that the Squeeze is developing.

“It’s just part of the Squeeze story that keeps getting written,” he said.

Contact Emilee Jackson at [email protected].


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