MANKATO — Barry Ballinger is a defensive lineman, a position of notoriously big eaters, with the Minnesota State football team.
So it should surprise no one that for the 300-pounder, the favorite part of his summer job with the Mankato MoonDogs is when he gets to work the grill at ballgames.
“I’d rather grill than carry kegs, for sure,” he said.
Ballinger is one of many Minnesota State athletes who spend their summer staying in Mankato so they can work out with teammates or continue with some classes. In order for Ballinger, who will be a junior this fall, to stay here, he needed to get a job, in part to pay for his food and entertainment but also for something to do when he’s not lifting weights or running to get ready for the upcoming football season.
“I (have a job) to keep busy,” Ballinger said. “It gives me some money to eat, and it works perfectly with my schedule. It’s a lot of fun. I like being outside; I worked in a factory last year and hated being inside all the time.”
Ballinger said he could work up to 30 hours in a week, depending on the MoonDogs’ home schedule. He works with concessions, getting to Franklin Rogers Park in the early afternoon to get the booths and decks ready for a 7:05 p.m. first pitch.
Every morning, and some nights after work, Ballinger and some of the 40 or so football players who stay here, will go to the Minnesota State weight room or get together for a run.
“I’d like to do it again next summer,” Ballinger said. “The MoonDogs have a reputation of bringing back the employees they like.”
While the lure of grilled meats is obvious, Karlee Gengenbacher, who will be a senior on the Minnesota State women’s basketall team, has a different issue. She spends 25 or so hours each week working at Angie’s Kettle Corn, either in the office or at the factory, where the smell of freshly made kettle corn can be trouble.