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Fanatics Hosts Athlete Immersion Program with WNBA, MLB Players


On Monday, November 6, Fanatics commenced a new weeklong immersion program for 11 athletes (full list below) in Los Angeles. 

Fanatics partnered with USC’s Marshall School of Business and Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism to design and deliver four learning modules of core business curriculum, complemented by hands-on experience with Fanatics businesses in the LA area. The curriculum covered Brand Strategy, Marketing & Sales, Business Foundations, Brand Communication & Media, and Leadership & Management.

When speaking to SBJCPO Orlando Ashford shared, "While all of us appreciate and admire athletes during their playing days, we want to be the company that also appreciates and works with them when they're not professional athletes anymore...I think we're uniquely positioned to do that.”

Building upon the Externship program–historically run with the NFLPA and retired NHL players over the last several years–the new Athlete Immersion program continues Fanatics' work to support athletes and lay the groundwork for the next chapter after their playing careers have come to an end. This cohort marks the first time Fanatics has worked with MLB and the WNBA for professional athlete development.


  • Marie Ferdinand-Harris, Phoenix Mercury (Retired)
  • Essence Carson, New York Liberty
  • Lexie Brown, Los Angeles Spark
  • Rebekah Gardner, Chicago Sky
  • Diamond DeShields, Dallas Wings
  • Isabelle Harrison, Chicago Sky


  • Walker Buehler, Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Mark Melancon, Arizona Diamondbacks
  • AJ Lewis, Colorado Rockies Affiliate
  • Mike Rucker, Chicago Cubs
  • Zack Weiss, Red Sox


Hands-On Learning with Fanatics

Throughout the week, the participants learned about the different aspects of the Fanatics businesses and met with Fanatics executives, including Michael Rubin, CEO; Orlando Ashford, Chief People Officer; Omar Wilkes, SVP/Athlete Relations; Alex Lee, SVP/GM, Head of Loyalty and Customer Experience; Adam Lock, VP/Social Media; Mike Mahan, Fanatics Collectibles CEO; Nick Bell, Fanatics Live CEO; and Eli Kumekpor, Mitchell & Ness CEO.

Some highlights from the athlete's time with Fanatics include a crash course into Collecting and Trading complete with trips to hobby shops, experiencing a Fanatics Live ‘Break’ with USC All Stars, a design challenge at Mitchell & Ness, learning Fanatics' approach to fan loyalty and storytelling, and developing skills such as building your professional network and managing diverse teams.


To close out the week, CEO Michael Rubin hosted the athletes and our Fanatics leaders at his LA home for dinner.

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