WAGS Work: Morgan Urtso
Tell us who you are, how you got into the baseball world, and a little bit about you and your boyfriend/fiancé/husband.
Hi there babes! My name is Morgan Urtso and I’m a digital artist and web designer. I own Butter Sites, LLC., and I work full-time as the graphic designer for Flight Operations at Southwest Airlines in Dallas.
I met my boyfriend, Jared Mitchell, about 3 years ago at the airport, when he was in Triple A with the Angels in Salt Lake City, and I was living in Phoenix (I’m a total nomad by nature, it’s hard to keep track of where I’ve lived and when, but what a blessing in this baseball life, right?).
We signed with the Cincinnati Reds in November after a year and a half in Indy ball, a stint in Double A with the Yankees, a year with the Angels, and up and down the White Sox organization since 2009 when they drafted him in the first round. It’s been…well, I don’t have to explain this rollercoaster to yall. And so thankful for that instant bond we all have because of it!
Tell us all about your job, what do you do, and how long you’ve been werkin’ it.
Basically, I train pilots! Or, that’s what I tell people when I want to sound really cool and keep a long story short, haha. Really, for the past year and a half I’ve been the graphic designer for Flight Ops, where we train our pilots and keep them current on their qualifications.
I build the graphics for all of their training, whether it’s a technically accurate replica of a flight deck or, most recently, a chili cookoff tee featuring four rubber chickens dressed up like KISS. This company is weird (and I love it).
On the side, I still operate Butter Sites when I have the bandwidth, and I’ve recently teamed up with a few WAGs on some stellar design projects (have you picked up your LOVE tee and hat, or a WAGS box??).
How in the world did you find this job?
I gave up the freedom of owning a business to take a job with Southwest because, hello, free flights! The decision actually wasn’t as simple as it sounds. I wasn’t even looking for a new job when the Southwest opportunity fell into my lap - my high school best friend called one day saying her department was hiring a graphic designer, and I should apply.
This was a game changer, and we weighed the pros and cons heavily. Living across the country and planning a trip was so hard...because minor league life. After praying about it for what seemed like weeks, God made it abundantly clear that I should take the job and the stability that would come with it. Since then, it has truly closed the gap on this long distance thing that we all know and love.
Was working remotely just part of the job, or did you have to ask for that? If you DID have you ask – how’d you go about doing it? Was it an immediate “yes” or did you have to keep asking? Were you nervous?
When I started my job, working remotely was something only the pilots really got to do. My boss is a pilot, my boss’s boss is a pilot, my boss’s boss’s boss is a pilot. A large majority of my department is pilots. Did I feel out of my element? Heck yes. Was I intimidated? HECK yes.
But the good thing about working with a group that is 95% men, is they think it’s reeeeally awesome when your boyfriend is a professional baseball player. So when it came time to ask for some remote work, they understood why I was asking for it.
Southwest has this really great way of valuing employee happiness, and working with me on getting what I wanted out of my job has always been a priority. I worked to make a case for myself, pitch it to my bosses, and prove my value while physically absent from the office.
It’s been a gradual process, and I had to be persistent. While I don’t work 100% remotely, I flex my hours and have the freedom to take remote time whenever I need it, which has been an absolute Godsend during the season.
How do you balance your work and living the baseball life?
Balance…um, can I get the definition? What’s that!? Truly, at 30 years old, I am still searching for balance in my life. It seems like right when I feel like I’ve finally got a good routine down, life throws a wrench in my system and I’m back to wading my way through the chaos.
I think that balance is one of those elusive goals we are all endlessly pursuing because God has blessed us with lives that are in constant flux and evolution. Right now, balance for me is just being conscious and present, whether it’s at work or socially or with baseball, and not beating myself up if I don’t get it all right, all the time.
How did finding this job impact your life personally, and for the two of you?
Personally, this job has brought me professional validation I wasn’t sure I’d ever find as a designer. I graduated from Arizona State with a BA in Broadcast Journalism and was a sports reporter for 5 years, what do I really know about graphic design or aviation? When I left TV production and started Butter Sites, I’d be lying if I said I was even remotely confident it would all work out. I’m a completely self-taught graphic and web designer. I knew I was creative enough to do my own thing at my own pace and level, that I could trial-and-error my way through coding HTML, and that I could spend hours on YouTube learning Adobe Illustrator. A few years later, I’m so proud of where that leap of faith has taken me.
I can also say beyond a shadow of a doubt that this job has changed our long distance lives. For real y'all, I cannot overstate the value of my flight benefits, the stability of a steady income, the freedom of partially remote work that I love, and how it has alleviated a lot of the stress that comes with a long distance relationship in this unpredictable, emotional baseball life. I was blessed beyond belief finding this job - and if you get the opportunity to work for an airline, specifically SWA…DO IT. DO IT. DO IT. And reach out to ya girl if you need a recommendation!
What’s a typical workday like for you in the season? In the off-season?
I try to find any semblance of structure that I can daily in my work life, because no two days are ever the same. During the season when I’m not visiting Jared, I like to be in the office so I can take drive-by graphic requests or help with new projects. When I’m traveling, my number one goal is to stay organized. Sometimes I have a laundry list of graphics to get done, and going to a local coffee shop early in the morning and physically checking those off my list helps me feel productive even while I’m away. Jared and I are long distance year-round, so the only difference in my work day from season to off-season is that my entire team likes to crowd around my computer and cheer him on when I watch his games…every. single. day.
What advice do you have for other WAGs who are looking for remote work or trying to work up the courage to ASK to go remote?
I love this question. Y'all, please above all else, know your value and what you bring to the table. This is what I struggled with the most when I wanted to go remote. First of all, know it for yourself, and then make sure your superiors know it as well. That confidence will take you places you had no idea you could go, professionally and otherwise.
Secondly, justify it honestly. Lay out the case that you will make the most of the privilege and won’t take advantage of the freedom. Start with proposing a 9/80 schedule (work 80 hours in 9 days every 2 weeks, with the second Friday off), then work up from there. Earn it! Gradual progress is progress nonetheless. Once they see you’re meeting deadlines and getting your work done outside of the office at the same rate, or faster, than you were before, you can make the case for more time. But I promise you - it all starts with knowing how valuable you are. And trust me, you ARE.
What’s the hardest part of your job? What’s the best?
The hardest part of my job is that I’m not from an aviation background at all. Sometimes these terms go wayyyy over my head (like, 30,000 feet over, haha), and it’s frustrating. Sometimes I feel like I can’t do any of this because I just don’t speak pilot! But by the same token, one of the best parts of my job is learning about it all. I get to fly flight simulators, I know what PWB and MCDU and IE/CQT and FMC/S and ETOPS mean (and I could explain them to you), and just recently I built training to teach our pilots how to fly to Hawaii. I mean, really? I get to do this? It’s really, really freaking awesome. And needless to say, the fact that I get to fly for free is the ultimate. Last year I took my best friend to Tokyo for her 30th - we got upgraded to business class and paid only taxes on the roundtrip flight. Best job ever!?
What’s one thing you wish EVERYONE knew about being a WAG/baseball life?
I wish everyone knew how incredibly loving and supportive this community is. I wish everyone knew how trying this baseball life can really be, and how fiercely we work to defend it. I wish everyone knew that a WAG is more than a baseball wife/girlfriend/fiance. I wish everyone knew that the word WAG does not define us, but WE define WAG by these words: commitment to something greater than ourselves, strength in the face of adversity, adapting and adapting and adapting again, faith and belief that everything happens for a reason, INSPIRATIONAL, loyalty no matter the time or distance, independence despite the stereotypes, selflessness, genuine ambition, cause-seeking and supporting, and the capacity to love seeing our guys chase their dreams just as much as we love chasing our own. I wish everyone knew every single one of you and how individually incredible you all are - I’m continually amazed by y'all, and proud to say we are all in this together.