Jack Langerman ’19.5 memorialized through creation of Sports Innovation Lab internship

By Sophia McDermott-Hughes

Courtesy of Molly Tissenbaum
Jack Langerman (back left) spent two summers working at the Sports Innovation Lab, a sports marketing analytics startup that has now created an internship in his honor.

After Jack Langerman’s death on Jan. 17, his former co-workers at Sports Innovation Lab gathered on Zoom to grieve and share memories: the days when the company president teased him for having a worse throwing arm than “the old man,” the time Jack ran out and bought Pop-Tarts for a distraught friend, and the fact that he was so proud of working for the company that he helped recruit another Middlebury student after he left. 

Through the tears and laughter, a plan began to emerge to honor his legacy and keep his memory alive at the company and at Middlebury.

The Sports Innovation Lab, in collaboration with the Center for Careers and Internships (CCI) and the Langerman family, created the Jack Langerman Internship. The internship will accept one Middlebury student each summer for a two-month paid position at the sports marketing analytics startup where Jack worked during the summers of 2018 and 2019. In the two weeks the application was open, 30 students applied for the summer 2021 position. 

The partnership with the CCI only officially extends over the next three years, but Sports Innovation Lab president and co-founder Josh Walker ’96.5 hopes that the position will continue long past then.

“Selfish[ly], we’re trying to just keep him,” Walker said. “Now we have a tool to make sure that future Middlebury students say his name and know why they’re [at the company]. It’ll make us remember Jack every year and keep him a part of our company . . .  [because] I don’t want someone like Jack Langerman to be forgotten.” 

Courtesy of Scott Langerman ’87
Jack Langerman with his sister Jenny Langerman ’22 after she was admitted to Middlebury in fall 2017.

Jack’s lifelong love for and dedication to sports started long before he began working at the Sports Innovation Lab. 

From the moment Jack first entered Fenway Park at age three, he was hooked on baseball. It was a game for the ages: the Yankees and Red Sox were playing off for a chance at the 1999 American League Championship Series with pitching legends Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez facing off. Jack’s parents, Scott Langerman ’87 and Vicki Langerman, were determined not to miss a second of it. Evidently, young Jack agreed. His parents had set up multiple contingency plans of relatives and friends who could pick him up if the normally squirmy toddler decided to throw a fuss, but “from the first pitch to the last out,” Jack didn’t move a muscle.  

Jack’s love for baseball eventually led him to walk onto Middlebury’s baseball team, where he played at first base his freshman year. However, sophomore year, Jack left competitive play and spoke to the new head coach, Mike Leonard, about creating a position for himself where he could still be part of the team and contribute, even if he wasn’t on the field. 

Jack served in the newly created role of director of baseball operations for his last three years at Middlebury. Jack went to every practice and game. He helped as an assistant coach in the dugout, welcomed and mentored new players, scouted teams, analyzed players skills and weaknesses, helped develop strategy and more. But Leonard said Jack’s biggest contribution came in the team culture he helped form. 

“Our program would not be what it is today without Jack’s influence on it,” Leonard was quoted as saying in a campus-wide email. “His ability to bring people together, foster team cohesion, and represent the program’s highest ideals in everything he did set him apart. He was kind, thoughtful, and a gifted communicator who welcomed new members of the team to campus and gave them an instant support system. The relationships he built strengthened connections within our group and made everyone who was a part of it feel like a family.”

Jack’s time as the director of baseball operations gave him insight into what he could do within the sports industry off the field. His search for a career path led him to the Sports Innovation Lab, where he hoped to build a resume and set of skills that could serve as a launching point. 

“His [dream job] would have been General Manager of the Red Sox,” Scott Langerman said. “I’m not sure if he ever would have accomplished that, but it would have been fun to watch him try.” 

Scott Langerman hopes that those who receive the Jack Langerman Internship will learn to love sports and experience the industry in all of its forms, just as Jack did.  

“If somebody walks away from the experience and [thinks], ‘Wow, now I understand why Jack made such an impact. I understand why he enjoyed it so much, and I understand why he loved this industry,’ that, to me, is a win,” Scott Langerman said. “And hopefully, they’ll walk away from him wanting to do something similar for somebody else.” 

For many at the Sports Innovation Lab, the internship is a way of thanking Jack for the multitude of ways he helped the company and its employees. Molly Tissenbaum, one of his former coworkers, recalled being visibly distraught at work one day after her visa application was rejected. Jack, who sat across from her, noticed immediately. When she began crying after telling him what was wrong, he ran off in search of a way to comfort her in the form of her favorite snack. 

“The next thing that I knew, he had left the office and come back with a bag full of Pop-Tarts and just put them on a table in front of me. That week he was constantly checking in on me and making sure that I was OK and fully stocked with Pop-Tarts. And that, to me was the epitome of what Jack was all about,” Tissenbaum said. “He did whatever he could do to make somebody else smile or feel better.” 

When Eliza Van Voorhis ’21.5, the Sport Innovation Lab’s current intern, reached out to Jack for advice on applying to the company, she was blown away by the outpouring of support she received in return. He immediately met with her at lunch to answer her questions, give advice and connect her with people from the company. After his passing, Van Voorhis spent an afternoon scrolling through their text exchanges and was astonished to see the volume of messages of support he sent, checking in about her application and helping her troubleshoot until she got the job.  

One of Van Voorhis’ biggest regrets is not properly thanking Jack for all his help and generosity. She hopes helping to set up this internship in his honor can serve as a way to demonstrate her gratitude, even if he isn’t here to receive it. 

While she recused herself from participating in the final decision-making process, Van Voorhis coordinated with the CCI to create the internship and Handshake entry and helped schedule interviews and coordinate with the 30 applicants. Tissenbaum hopes that the first recipient of the Jack Langerman Internship can help find the next recipient and so on in a chain of the kind of acts of service for which Jack was known.  

“He was a huge proponent of paying it forward, and we felt that this was a really nice way to pay his legacy forward and keep people from Midd, which is something that he was so passionate about and that he clearly loved, close to us and our company,” Tissenbaum said. “This seemed like a way that we could continue to keep him top of mind, and that we could remind ourselves that he’s still having an impact on not just us as individuals, but as our company as a whole.” 

Jack’s family was heartwarmed, if not surprised, by the depth of the connections he formed with his former coworkers. Jack loved people and constantly sought out connection with anyone and everyone. For eight years, Jack participated in a fantasy football pool with the Langermans’ 80-year-old neighbor, trading yard chores and Red Sox T-shirts as prizes for the winner and the loser’s forfeit. Once he had befriended someone, Jack held on.  

Jack was born in Atlanta and lived there until he turned three, when his family moved to Maryland. Jack kept in touch with the women who worked at the daycare he attended in Atlanta for his whole life. When he traveled with the baseball team to Emory University for a game and spring break trip, he invited them to the game and hung out with them afterwards, despite not having seen them for nearly 20 years.  

“I think Jack can be described most simply as everyone’s friend. It didn’t matter who it was — the 90-year-old neighbor next door, the quiet kid in the back of the class, the friend of a friend of a friend — Jack approached each person with the same non-judgement and genuine interest,” his sister, Jenny Langerman ’22, wrote in an email to The Campus. “He had a knack for making people feel special, for making them feel welcome and wanted, for seeing in them what they have trouble seeing in themselves. He was a master of the masses and a great connector of people, and everything was a little brighter with him next to you.” 

In the wake of his passing, the Langerman family has created the Jack Langerman Community Foundation. While they are still formulating plans for the foundation, they hope it can serve as another way of carrying on his legacy. 

“There are so many things that Jack was so passionate about, so many things that he would have done if he was given more time,” Scott Langerman said. “We feel that the world is a far lesser place without somebody driving those things. We want to drive those and really take care of the people he would have taken care of and take care of the places that were so important to him and shaped him.”

Scott Langerman is also working to establish an additional summer sports internship for Middlebury students in Jack’s honor.

For more information on the Jack Langerman Community Foundation, please email [email protected].