Halfway up the rows of aluminum benches, at the end of the concrete bleachers that pass third base and stretch a few yards up the left field line, a 25-foot red maple tree provides enough shade for one person standing in just the right spot at CMC–Northeast Stadium in Kannapolis.That’s good information to have if you’re working on a scorching afternoon at the home of the Kannapolis Intimidators, and looking for a brief respite. As head usher, Warren Kauber spends a lot of time at the stadium. Understanding the nuances of his job is what makes the 73-year-old retiree from Ohio such a valuable member of the Intimidators’ staff.Kauber, who lives in Statesville, has made ushering at sporting events nearly a full-time job since 2006. Besides the Intimidators, Kauber works other seasonal jobs for the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, and for the Toronto Blue Jays at their spring training facility in Dunedin, Fla.“I enjoy the people,” Kauber said. “You meet a lot of people. You have to be firm but fun too. Being around sports and people is a fun atmosphere for me.”Kauber and his wife, Chris, moved to the Lake Norman area after they retired in 1999. The Kaubers owned and operated two funeral homes near Columbus, Ohio, for nearly 30 years.Kauber’s connection to Columbus, the location of Ohio State University, and his college career playing basketball at Northwestern in the late 1950s, made him a big fan of Big Ten football and basketball. He grew up a fan of the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Browns.After moving to the Lake Norman area, Kauber said, he became interested in ushering while attending Charlotte Hornets and Charlotte Knights games.“It cost too much to go to games,” Kauber said. “I use to go to Hornets games and I would spend $100 a game.”Kauber got his first job with the Panthers. He is now responsible for two sections of lower-level seating often used by coaches’ wives and other VIPs.After the completion of the Panthers’ season, the ACC football championship and Belk Bowl, Warren and Chris, who have been married for 48 years, haul their motor home to Florida for three months during winter and early spring.During the Blue Jays’ spring training, Kauber is responsible for sections that include accessible seating and players’ wives and girlfriends at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. In the Florida heat, Kauber said, his biggest challenge is keeping people cool, especially those of advanced years.Kauber doesn’t consider himself old. He exercises regularly and looks to be 20 years younger when hiding behind a pair of sunglasses.Of the three teams he works for, Kauber said, his Intimidators gig is by far the most challenging, because of the number of games he works. This season, he says he will miss only two of 70 home games, and only because of conflicts with training for his job with the Panthers.Sometimes Chris and Warren’s children and grandchildren attend Intimidators games. For Warren’s 70th birthday, they surprised him with a party at the stadium. The team had him throw the first pitch.This season, Warren considered quitting his Intimidators job and thought about seeking a job with the Charlotte Knights, the Class AAA affiliate of the White Sox. The Intimidators persuaded him to stay when they gave him a significant pay raise and assigned him more responsibility. Kauber is in charge of scheduling the team’s other ushers, parking attendants and police.On game day, Kauber floats from one end of the stadium to the other, assisting fans and other ushers. They handle problems such as confronting unruly fans, keeping children off walkway railings and urging spectators in the front row to keep their feet off the netting behind home plate.“Like the other part-timers we have, Warren is a very valuable asset to the customer experience here at the ballpark,” said Randy Long, the team’s general manager. “He has been here many years, and he tries to be what we’re all about, which is the fan experience and customer satisfaction.”On June 30, Kannapolis is scheduled to host the Greenville Drive, closing a four-game series, which followed a 10-day break for Kauber and the rest of the game-day staff. Kauber doesn’t mind taking a mid-season vacation, but he doesn’t see himself ever walking away from sports.“I don’t think I’ll ever quit,” he said, “unless I get unhealthy or they fire me.”
Friday, Jun. 28, 2013
Head usher for Kannapolis Intimidators plays the field
Joe Habina is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Joe? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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