Carson City native Juliana Paoli has had the loftiest of goals in everything she has entered into.
But it's likely that not even Paoli could have imagined the success that the San Diego Surf Dawgs of the independent Golden Baseball League have had or the role that she's played in it. The Surf Dawgs are a first place team with a future Major League Hall of Famer in Ricky Henderson making Paoli's opening year as the team's general manager in the league's inaugural season already one to remember.
"It's going really well," said Paoli, a 1996 Carson High graduate, who went onto the Unversity of Washington. "I definitely had high expecatations. It's been really exciting.
"We've been drawing great crowds and have a great product on the field. The whole experience has been humbling and remarkable."
The Surf Dawgs have been drawing huge crowds at Tony Gwynn Stadium on the San Diego State campus and obviously Henderson is a big reason why. San Diego was also in first place in the league's California Division at 30-15 going into Wednesday's action, five games ahead of Long Beach.
Henderson played with the San Diego Padres and loved the city, so when he heard about the GBL, he approached the Surf Dawgs.
"He came to us," Paoli said. "We were thrilled, I was thrilled. It's been awesome for the league, team and Ricky."
Henderson signed a contract for the maximum league salary of $3,000. Paoli was also responsible for negotiating a marketing agreement with Henderson that she now oversees. Among the promotions that Paoli has directed is Ricky Henderson bobblehead night.
Paoli said she receives about 10 media requests a day from across the country for Henderson. CNN was in San Diego on Wednesday to feature Henderson as one of its 25 most fascinating people.
"He's been nothing but a pleasure to work with," Paoli said. "He's been willing to do anything we've asked. It's been fun."
One of the most rewarding parts of her job, Paoli said, has been walking Henderson to his car after every home game and watching how he interacts with the fans.
Paoli said Henderson is more than willing to sign autographs for the children who have approached and will go as far as hug the fans who come up to him. Some go away crying, Paoli said. "To be a part of that has been very special," Paoli said.
The GBL has already had 10 players signed by Major League teams, but ironically the Surf Dawgs, who have the league's best record, haven't had anybody sign, yet. That could change with Henderson a strong candidate. "He truly believes he can play in the Big Leagues again," Paoli said.
While Paoli has the title of general manager, she actually serves the role of being a team president.
"I'm really more like the traditional president's role," she said. "I do sign contracts and I do sign checks."
Former Major League Terry Kennedy, the team's manager, is also in reality the team's general manager as he handles all the personnel decisions. But Kennedy hasn't been afraid to involve Paoli in the process. "He does consult me more than I anticipated," she said.
So far it's been a banner year for Paoli and the Surf Dawgs and she said she would love for those from Carson City to be a part of it. "I would love for anyone from Carson City to come and be my guest at a game," she said.