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Women in Sports: Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission Receives Major Sports Industry Honors

15 May, 2019


On May 10, 2019, the National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC), now rebranded as the Sports Events & Tourism Association (Sports ETA), presented industry awards for outstanding individual and organization work at its 27th annual NASC Symposium in Knoxville, TN. The Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission was well-represented bringing home two major sports industry honors as well as an event executive certification.

Michelle Russ, director of sales for the Sports Commission, received the Game Changer Award. The Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission was named Sports Tourism Organization of the Year (under 500,000 population). Additionally, Ashley Wilson, sales manager for the Sports Commission, earned her Certified Sports Events Executive designation.

“Proud doesn’t begin to describe how I feel for Michelle and our Sports Commission,” said Herb Malone, president and CEO for Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism. “Michelle makes an impact day in and day out at the office, in the community, in the sports tourism world and at home. I’m grateful to work with an amazing group of women making major strides in the male-dominated sports industry. Our Sports Commission works tirelessly to bring events to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, which has greatly contributed to growing our shoulder seasons to help stabilize a year-round economy.”

In 2018, Russ and the Sports Commission secured 155 events resulting in 114,786 room nights and $118 million in economic impact for the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Also, the Game Changer was responsible for developing the Sports Commission’s Annual Sponsorship Program to engage local businesses by giving them the opportunity for sports tourism buy-in and to create a revenue stream for the commission to enhance and grow events.

The Sports ETA judges noted in the rigorous selection process for Sports Tourism Organization of the Year, the coastal commission stood out among steep competition.

“The work they have done to bring in great events, both large and small, has had a tremendous impact on the community,” the judging panel stated. “It is clear they are doing big things in their community.”

For information on upcoming athletic events along Alabama’s Gulf Coast, visit GulfShores.com/Sports, or call 1-800-745-SAND.

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