Carson woman leads San Diego franchise | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson woman leads San Diego franchise

When she was the senior class secretary at Carson High, Juliana Paoli never imagined that would someday lead to being a top executive in the professional sports world.

But eight years later, Paoli finds herself overseeing the Golden Baseball League’s San Diego franchise. Paoli is serving as the team’s general manager as the independent league prepares for its inaugural season in 2005.

It’s rare to see a top female executive in professional sports on any level, so Paoli finds herself in select company.

“I think it all helped, growing up in Carson and being involved in the community,” said the 1996 CHS graduate about how her experience in Carson City helped prepare her for the position she holds today. “I feel like growing up in Carson City helped me get to where I am.”

Paoli’s experience in team building began at CHS when she was involved in Project C, a program designed to build more of a community environment at the school.

“When I was there it was pretty clicke,” said Paoli about her time at CHS. She said Project C was designed to create a safe and friendly environment for all students.

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“It was just a way to bring everyone together and unify and create school spirit,” she said. “I definitely have that team-building attitude I guess.”

After attending the University of Washington, Paoli landed a job in sports marketing and special events in San Francisco. “I was able to jump right in,” she said.

Among her duties was overseeing the charities of Ronnie Lott, the former San Francisco 49er great. She went on to begin her own business in San Diego, which led to the general manager’s position with the San Diego franchise.

“I really had no idea that I would be a team general manager,” Paoli said. “I don’t have the baseball experience.”

In reality, Paoli is actually serving as the team’s president. The team’s manager, Terry Kennedy, is in reality serving as the team’s general manager in which he’ll be in charge of filling out the team’s 22-man roster.

But it will be Paoli who will sign the checks and oversee the rest of the day-to-day operations of the club.

“It seemed like a natural fit,” said Paoli about how her experience has prepared her for this job. “I’m very, very excited. I’m really enjoying being able to start everything from the ground up.”

And Paoli is a huge baseball fan. “I have that passion for baseball,” she said. “Baseball is very important to me.”

Paoli has another connection to baseball. Her cousin, Jamie Scott, another CHS graduate, is married to Oakland A’s outfielder Mark Kotsay, who also played for the Padres. Kotsay and Scott have homes in Reno and San Diego.

The league will have seven other franchises in Chico, Calif., which had strong support when it had a franchise in the independent Western League, and Fullerton and Long Beach, Calif., Mesa, Surprise and Yuma, Ariz., and Tijuana, Mexico.

Paoli said the league is set up for success since it owns all of the franchises. “I really, really like that,” she said.

Prominent baseball people are also becoming involved in the league. Kennedy is a former Major League catcher, who played for the San Diego Padres. Another former Major League and Padre great is Gary Templeton, who is the manager of the Fullerton team.

There’s also former Padre great Tony Gwynn. The San Diego team will play its games at Tony Gwynn Stadium at San Diego State. Gwynn, who was also a standout at San Diego State, is now the school’s baseball coach.

“Tony Gwynn has been a great help,” Paoli said. “He’s definitely supporting us. He’s been a great friend of us and supportive of the league. He just shares his baseball knowledge with me.”

The league’s first tryouts will be held Dec. 14 and 15 in Fullerton. The season will run from May through September.

“I think this league is different than other leagues,” Paoli said. “We’re off to a great start. People want to be involved in this league.”

Paoli is now overseeing a contest in which the fans will select the nickname of the team. So far, Waves is the vote leader. Paoli is also working on building partnerships in the community.

“We want the community to be involved,” Paoli said. “They’re definitely going to be a part of what we’re doing.”

Paoli said she knows what it means to be a female executive for a pro sports team. While she doesn’t rule out being an executive at an even higher level some day, she said her focus right now is her job in San Diego.

“I want concentrate on doing this and doing very well,” she said. “I didn’t expect this to happen. This came out of left field. The sky’s the limit.”

Charles Whisnand is the Nevada Appeal Sports Editor. Contact him at cwhisnand@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1214.