WAGS Work: Mary Dolan
Tell us who you are, how you got into the baseball world, and a little bit about your fiancé.
Hi everyone! I’m Mary, and on my third professional baseball season with my fiancé, Kyri Washington. Kyri and I met right after he signed with the Boston Red Sox, and while I was still finishing up my last year of college at the University of California, Davis. There I majored in International Relations with an emphasis in Peace and Security in the Middle East and Africa, as well as Human Rights. More simply put, I studied war and how to prevent it.
Kyri and I like to think that we have a pretty unique story – mostly because we met in Las Vegas. I was on a girl’s trip for my birthday, and he was out with his agency on what would become an annual adventure. By chance, we all were at the same concert, and when I needed to find a quieter place to sit down (I seriously hate crowds), I ended up in a back room that several groups had tables at – including Kyri’s. We ended up not just hanging out the rest of that night, but the rest of the weekend. I’m not one of those girls that had grown up believing in love at first sight, but when we met, we both just knew we’d end up making something serious of our chance meeting.
We did long distance while I finished my degree and he started his first season in the Red Sox organization. After graduating in June, I was lucky enough to get to spend the rest of the season out in Greenville, South Carolina with him, which was a major eye opener into how hard the baseball life is. After those three months I accepted a job back in California, which is where Kyri now spends his off-seasons instead of back home in his native Virginia.
This past off-season, a week after he came back actually, we got engaged! He spent time with a jeweler designing the perfect ring, and even made sure my family was there to look on. September 30, 2018 we will be getting married in Sonoma, California and we could not be more excited.
Tell us all about your job, what you do, and how long you’ve been working.
My first job out of college was working as the Communications Director for the State’s Senate Majority Leader, where I worked for a year. My primary responsibility was to create the messaging campaign around his policy agenda, while ensuring that we were articulating that message to the millions of California constituents that he represents. From setting up interviews and press conferences, calling out reporters, or writing op-eds and speeches, I’d grown my professional portfolio and was ready for a new challenge. The political environment and frequent weeks of staying until 3 am, had definitely taken a toll, and I began interviewing for other positions.
Luckily, I really didn’t have to look long when the perfect opportunity presented itself nearly 4 months ago. I was offered a position with the California State University (CSU) system, working as one of the two lobbyists advocating directly for the nearly half a million students in the system. CSU is the largest public university system in the country, and because of that, a huge percentage of adults with bachelor’s degrees are CSU graduates.
Typically, I’m working with offices in the Capitol on legislation my partner and I have written ourselves or are working on supporting other legislation that falls in line with our policy agenda. The inverse of that of course is working to kill legislation that could negatively impact the system or its students. It is such a thrilling and empowering feeling when a bill we’ve supported is passed, or a bill we’ve opposed has been killed.
How in the world did you find this job?
I am not going to lie and tell you that getting to where I am now in my career has been easy. I absolutely love my job. But right out of college I had incredibly high expectations for myself that in hindsight were not realistic. I wanted that dream job right away and didn’t anticipate how difficult the job hunting and interviewing process is. The hardest part was definitely getting settled enough in my first position at the Capitol to make those connections and expand my resume so that when the position I have now opened up, I felt qualified and confident in my skillset.
How do you balance your work and living the baseball life?
The hardest part of my job though, is definitely how far it is from Kyri. During the season, we are typically at least 2,000 miles and 2-time zones apart. Luckily, he is the most supportive and ambitious human being, and he wants my own success just as much as I want his. I also have an amazing boss, and normally have 3 vacation days a month I can save up for trips to visit, so I try to fly out once every other month. As I write this, I am in Fort Myers, Florida with him on the last leg of his spring training, because I was able to save up those vacation days for two months and take a week to be here.
How did finding this job impact your life personally, and for the two of you?
In the nearly two years I have been out of college and working, I have grown so much from my career. I’ve become that much more confident and self-assured. I feel good about the work I am doing each day, and I also know that I am good at it. That independence and my own self-identity has been critical in my sanity throughout this crazy baseball life. One of the reasons Kyri fell in love with me was because of my ambition, just as I fell in love with his passion for baseball. Despite being so far away, we are each other’s biggest fans. I try to watch or listen to all of his games, and he calls on my way home every day so that I can tell him what I had been working on.
That being said, there are definitely days that I struggle with not being physically with Kyri. There are waves, especially when I am out visiting him, that I worry I may not be doing the right thing in staying behind while he goes off for the season. Sometimes I even feel a touch of jealousy when I see other WAGs travel 24/7 with their guys. But then I reflect back on the 3 months I spent traveling with Kyri after college, which was just as difficult, and recognize that there’s no right answer for any single couple in the professional baseball world. It’s just about doing what works best for you both, season by season, month by month, or day by day.
What’s a typical workday like for you in the season? In the off-season?
No matter the time of the year, my typical workday looks pretty similar. There are certain times of the year, such as right before legislative deadlines, that are much more hectic than others, but every single day at my job varies. There are days I have meetings back to back from 9 am to 7 pm, and don’t even have time to eat. But then there are other days when I have submitted amendments for a bill and can’t do anything else before the in-house Capitol lawyers get them back to me. Sometimes, I have to sit and watch or testify in a committee hearing that lasts upwards of 8 hours. I work on average 2 weekends a month, traveling to different campuses throughout the CSU system, meeting with students and identifying problems that could benefit from legislative fixes.
The biggest difference of my work life in the off-season, is that I have a sweet man who drives me to and from work each day and has dinner and a glass of wine on the table when we get home. That, as you can imagine, makes a huge difference to me in getting through grueling days that never seem to end. I mean that’s basically every girl’s dream, right?
What advice do you have for other WAGS who have demanding jobs?
The biggest advice I have to other WAGS who have very demanding jobs, on the other side of the country from their guys’ team, is to just enjoy the ride while figuring out what system works the best for you. It’s entirely about being flexible. There are no constants in baseball – whether that’s the location, the organization, or even the length of their career. So, for me, I have really had to work on embracing that ebb and flow of the season, while being completely honest with Kyri about what my own hopes and dreams are.
What’s the hardest part of your job? What’s the best?
My job is incredibly demanding, but also rewarding. I can’t risk not staying intensely focused on even the minute details of bill language, conversations in meetings, or committee hearings, because of how directly the legislation I am working on affects both current and future students. The majority of our students are low income: 11% are homeless, and 40% are food insecure. Despite being marketed as the most affordable 4-year higher education system in California, on average our students leave the CSU with $16,000 in debt, despite federal and state funding. Working to help create these fixes has been one of the greatest privileges of my life thus far.
What’s one thing you wish everyone knew about being a WAG/baseball life?
I wish that everyone knew we are so much more than the wives and girlfriends of professional baseball players. We are incredibly strong, and supportive women, who have identities so much more complex than a “WAG.” While supporting our players could be considered a full-time job, we all have careers, families, and lives of our own. I absolutely love getting to go on this journey with Kyri, and am immensely proud to be his fiancé, but this baseball life isn’t an easy one, especially when it means being thousands of miles apart for at least half of the year.
Where can we find you online / how can we keep up with you?
I love connecting with other women who are also on this journey! Feel free to follow and message me on any of my social media platforms!
Twitter: mmmary 21
Facebook: Mary Catherine Dolan