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Coping with COVID’s ‘high cheese’

  • UMES senior’s resilience leads to a unique internship

    Friday, March 12, 2021
    Nasya Goodman

    The COVID19 pandemic threw a curveball at UMES senior Nasya Goodman's plans to finish her undergraduate studies in a timely fashion and move on to the next phase of life. 

    A southpaw pitcher on the Hawks' softball team whose repertoire includes a curveball, Goodman found an unlikely on-ramp back to a career path that now goes through the Bronx and leads to Bridgewater, N.J. 

    Goodman is scheduled to graduate May 14, when she'll accept a degree in hospitality and tourism management with highest honors.  The following day, she starts a post-graduate internship with the Somerset Patriots, the New York Yankees' new Double A affiliate. 

    Yes, those Yankees.  The same baseball club Goodman grew up rooting for in Willingboro, N.J. 

    “Oh, my goodness,” she said.  “I've been a Yankees' fan my whole life.” 

    Goodman will be working under the head chef for Homeplate Hospitality and Catering as a culinary intern.  No hot dogs or apple pie, peanuts or Crackerjacks on menus Goodman will be working from. 

    Instead, she'll play a key role in preparing meals -- including Kosher -- for players, coaches and season-ticket holders who pay for premium amenities as well as for the stadium's picnic and catering areas.  Like many professional sports teams, the Yankees assign a dietitian to guide nutritional food choices for players they are developing on their payroll.

    Goodman is a life-long New York Yankees fan

    Goodman said she hopes someday to open her own Italian restaurant -- her maternal great, great grandparents emigrated from Sicily.  An interim step, she said, is attending a culinary school in -- where else -- Manhattan, hopefully after the 2022 collegiate softball season. 

    An internship she set up for the (first) Summer of COVID19 fell through when the pandemic forced businesses to close for much of 2020, so she suddenly had an unwanted hole in her pre-graduation resume. 

    Goodman returned to Princess Anne for her senior year to find that UMES chose to forego intercollegiate sports competition for the 2020-21 academic year.  There was, however, a silver lining. 

    The NCAA granted athletes affected by the pandemic an extra year of eligibility, which Goodman opted to exercise.  She also turned her attention to finding an internship she hopes will help after she leaves Princess Anne. 

    Research produced a lead during winter break on a rare East Coast opportunity in the culinary field.  It turned out to be 60 miles from where she grew up. 

    Homeplate Hospitality and Catering told her she was among seven applicants competing to work alongside the team's chef.  The Patriots' offer came in January -- before the team announced publicly it was joining the Yankees' farm system. 

    “I'm excited but also nervous,” Goodman said.  “I had an internship before COVID happened and when it ended up not having that experience, it was a big disappointment.”

    The pandemic, she said, “has affected my life tremendously. I'm organized. I like having a plan.”

    Serving as president of her sorority, Zeta Phi Beta, has kept her busy, as has participating in other student activities and being allowed to participate in softball workouts in the Tawes gym.

    “I really had to invest in time management,” she said.  “I sometimes overload my plate. I've been determined at working the hardest I can work.”

    “All these things I'm a part of … I've tried to get the most out of my college experience,” she said. 

    The Patriots' website says the team “will host 60 home games at TD Bank Ballpark from May 4th through Sunday, September 19th.”  So she'll miss the first few games as UMES' spring 2021 semester comes to a close. 

    “My schedule will be 'non' 9-to-5,” she said.  “There are more home games than away games.”

    When the Patriots are on the road, Goodman will help team management maximize use of the empty stadium by hosting catered events. She'll also get the full “back-of-house” experience tracking inventory and doing cost analyses. 

    She might even be able to say someday she had an early glimpse of the next Brett Gardner (her current favorite Yankee) or Derek Jeter (her all-time favorite).