Meet the Mentors: Who's Who in Sports Tourism
30 May, 2017By: Mary Helen Sprecher
Sports tourism has continued to grow exponentially, leading to more events, more athletes and more economic impact. As events proliferate across the U.S., though, destinations are stepping up their game, with skilled professionals ready to guide planners and athletes along, and help achieve new personal bests in every direction.
Sports Destination Management has compiled a list of some of the best and the brightest professionals in the industry. You’re in good hands with this group, representing destinations across the map and bringing a wealth of experience and great ideas to every event that comes to their area.
Arizona: Bullhead City
Toby Cotter, City Manager, Bullhead City
Toby Cotter wants the world to know how Bullhead City, Arizona, has been transformed into a national sports destination. He wants sports promoters and event organizers to put a big star on his southwestern community. Cotter, city manager of Bullhead City (population 40,088), knows this is a growing community along with its sister-city of Laughlin, Nevada.
Together, these two cities have more than 11,000 hotel rooms and hundreds of vacation rentals at affordable prices. Bullhead City is strategically located in the middle of Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Southern California. Most important, Bullhead City has top-rated athletic facilities that can host hundreds of teams on any given weekend. Athletes can play any time of year in this warm-weather community.
Cotter believes the “Who’s Who recognition” is about his entire team. From the City Council to front-line staff, the Bullhead City Team is why the community is becoming a premier sports destination. Cotter enjoys his role managing this sports tourism city. On a more personal note, Cotter enjoys coaching his children and watching the many sporting activities in the parks. His favorite is the Best of West High School Girls Softball Tournament in March where the champion is almost always ranked #1 in the nation at the conclusion of the tournament.
Florida: Palm Beach County
Glen Allen, Director of Sports
Development, Palm Beach County Sports Commission
Glen Allen, a Kentucky native, joined the Palm Beach County Sports Commission in 2015 as the director of sports development. Glen has over six years of experience in sports tourism, having previously worked with the Central Florida Sports Commission as an event manager and manager of business development.
As director of sports development, Glen oversees the Sports Commission’s efforts to bring new event opportunities to Palm Beach County. Throughout his career in sports tourism, he has had the privilege of working with many different types of events including NCAA Basketball, NCAA Divisions I, II and III Golf regionals and championships, Pan American Wrestling Olympic Qualifier, USA Gymnastics Level 9 Eastern Championships, B.A.S.S. Southern Open, USA BMX Nationals, the Winter Equestrian Festival and National Hockey Festival.
Glen truly values the relationship-building side of his job, and has a heart for people. Although having the right facilities is the most important aspect to host events, forming a close relationship with the client is a must. For more information, contact Glen at email@example.com or 561-233-3174.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Mary Lee Malmberg, CSEE, Director of Sports Tourism, GO Cedar Rapids
Mary Lee Malmberg, CSEE, is the director of sports tourism at GO Cedar Rapids. For 28 years, Mary Lee has consistently found innovative solutions to grow sports tourism in the Cedar Rapids area. Sports tourism has played a vital role in the organization since it became a main emphasis following Mary Lee’s successful efforts to secure the 1999 AAU Youth/Senior National Taekwondo Championship.
Mary Lee was recently the recipient of the 2017 NASC Game Changer Award following a banner year in 2016. Over the last year, she worked with local partner institutions to bid on NCAA DII and DIII in multiple sports in 2018-2022, secured the 2017 S.P.O.R.T.S. Relationship Conference creating an opportunity for 200 industry peers and 75 event organizers to experience Cedar Rapids, and helped to secure the 2018 and 2020 NAIA Men’s and Women’s Cross Country National Championships on a course created (with Mary Lee’s fundraising assistance) to bid on this specific event.
She has served on the board of Prospect Meadows, a 17-field baseball/softball complex opening in spring 2019 and on the Cedar Rapids Parks and Recreation Commission for many years. A past president of Team Iowa Sports, Mary Lee served on the NASC Board from 2008-2013 and is a 2006 Certified Sports Event Executive (CSEE) graduate.
Pete Garlock, Director of Sales, Aurora Area Convention & Visitors Bureau; Aurora Area Sports Alliance
Pete Garlock is the director of sales for the Aurora Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. Since coming on board, Pete created the Aurora Area Sports Alliance and the AACVB landed two USSSA national tournaments, has hosted a nationally televised PBA event and was awarded Sports Events Magazine Readers’ Choice Industry Award for Excellence.
Prior to Aurora, Pete was the director of sales for the Elgin Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, where he started the Northwest Chicagoland Sports Commission.
Pete served six years as chairman of Sports Illinois, a statewide niche sales committee of the Illinois Council of Convention & Visitor Bureaus that focuses on attracting sports events to Illinois. As chair, Pete developed the Sports Illinois Huddle, an educational conference/tradeshow attended by rights holders and created to showcase sports facilities available for tournaments.
In the early 2000s, Pete worked as director of sales and marketing for Chicagoland’s North Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau, where he helped grow their partnership program.
Pete attended The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, and worked as a meetings and events planner for USTravel from 1989-1999. In 1999, Pete moved to Chicago to work on special events and conferences for Chase Bank, Navistar International and Baxter Healthcare.
Melinda Garritano, CSEE, Senior Account Executive, Meet Chicago Northwest
Melinda Garritano, CSEE, represents eight communities in the Chicago Northwest suburbs. Joining the convention bureau in 2007, Melinda has worked all markets and currently concentrates on sports, faith-based groups and fraternal affiliations.
Melinda grew up in the Chicago area and participated in team sports throughout middle and high school. She graduated from Iowa State University in Hospitality Management and has extensive hotel experience within the industry.
Meet Chicago Northwest, located at the edge of O’Hare Airport, offers guests big-city benefits in a relaxed, hassle-free setting. Venues and ample green space provide opportunities to host varied sports events for teams and individual sport practices. Events Melinda has worked with include GWN Dragon Boat holding their annual Chicago Dragon Boat Festival on Lake Arlington in Arlington Heights. Weightlifting, cheer and dance events have been hosted in hotel ballrooms and the Schaumburg Convention Center. Senior Softball, USSSA, state and regional softball and baseball events, soccer and lacrosse have been held at the outdoor complexes.
Melinda is a member of the National Association of Sports Commissions.
For information on venues and unique spaces, event owners can contact Melinda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cory Hatfield, Director of Sales, Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
Cory Hatfield is a sports nut, which is only fitting for someone in sports sales. His favorite quote is “If it is not fun, it is not worth doing.” Having joined the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau in 2015 as the director of sales, Hatfield still has fun showing off the Peoria area to sport planners.
Hatfield has a large network of partners throughout the sporting industry. He has been an active member of the National Association of Sports Commissions for eight years and currently serves as secretary for Sports Illinois. His extensive knowledge of the sports industry has helped bring in a number of new sporting events, as well as keeping strong relationships with those already calling the Peoria Area home. Cory is proud to promote area venues such as Louisville Slugger, EastSide Sports Complex, the Peoria Park District and the Peoria Civic Center.
Tournament planners should expect a red carpet rollout when working with Hatfield and the PACVB team. They go above and beyond to show that the Peoria Area really is a great fit for them. Cory encourages those who want the MVP treatment to visit EnjoyPeoria.com or e-mail them at email@example.com.
Schnette Queisser, National Sales Manager – Sports, Visit Indy
Since 2010, Schnette Queisser has served as Visit Indy’s national sales manager for the sports market, with a passion for bringing youth, amateur and professional sporting events to Indianapolis. As one of the premier sports destinations in the country, Indianapolis has hosted more than 400 national and international sporting events in recent decades, and under Schnette’s leadership, that resume continues to grow.
Prior to Visit Indy, Schnette worked as a sales manager for Marriott hotels in Atlanta, Chicago, and Indianapolis and as a meeting planner for the NCAA, which is headquartered in Indy. While studying at Purdue University, she held an internship with the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, the headquarters hotel for the 1996 Olympic Games.
In addition to partnering with the Indiana Sports Corp to bring major events to Indy, Schnette serves the sports industry in Central Indiana by sitting on the board of Sports Indiana and as a member of Sports Circle Indy. She is consistently serving on local organizing committees for Big Ten football and basketball championships, US Olympic trials and NCAA championships hosted in Indy on a regular basis.
Interested event owners can connect with Schnette at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jared Bratcher, Sports Director, Visit Owensboro
As sports director for Visit Owensboro, Jared Bratcher collaborates with multiple municipal and privately owned facilities to make Owensboro a sought-after destination for a wide variety of indoor and outdoor sports.
A lifelong sports enthusiast, Bratcher’s career turned toward sports in 1991 when he began managing a ballpark in Beaver Dam, Kentucky. He is also a founder and former president of Team IP sports and founder and owner of D&B Sporting Events.
In 2002, Bratcher was named sports and recreation supervisor for the city of Owensboro where he was charged with managing a baseball/softball complex and recruiting new tournaments to fill the schedule. Bratcher was so successful, the city and Visit Owensboro reached an agreement in 2008 to move him to Visit Owensboro as sports director to fill a broader role.
During his 15 total years in the role, Bratcher has brought more than 975 tournaments to Owensboro. In additional to baseball and softball, Bratcher works with traditional sports like basketball, football, wrestling, tennis and golf as well as some niche offerings like taekwondo, cornhole, cheer and dance, futsal, boxing and catfishing.
Sports event directors looking to explore a new indoor or outdoor venue for new or existing tournaments can contact Bratcher at email@example.com.
Michael Lucey, Discover Central Massachusetts
Although Michael is in his first year working the sports market with Discover Central Massachusetts, he has been immersed in sports from an early age. When he was a highly decorated and nationally recognized coxswain and collegiate coach, the sport of rowing afforded multiple leadership opportunities.
Whether navigating his crewmates to victory as an elite coxswain, training for the Olympic Trials, coaching at the Division I level or working in town government administration, Michael has exercised leadership on and off the water. His expertise includes coaching, teaching, public speaking, community outreach, sports management, event planning, athletic training and recreational program management, and his background includes marine and environmental law enforcement, community recreation and veterans’ support groups.
Prior to his arrival at Discover Central Massachusetts, his accomplishments included coordinating the recruitment of hundreds of college prospects for Ivy League and state university rowing programs. Worcester hosts roughly seven rowing Championships on Lake Quinsigamond, so Michael’s role in welcoming these groups comes naturally.
Being a Central Massachusetts native, Michael is invested to the ongoing renaissance of the destination, and views sports as a strategic growth opportunity. Using an established network in the rowing world, Michael is primed to continue to attract future championship rowing events and other sporting events to the region.
Maryland: Maryland Sports
Terrance (Terry) Hasseltine, CSEE, Executive Director of Maryland Sports; Vice President of the Maryland Stadium Authority
Terry Hasseltine was hired in July 2008 as the executive director of Maryland Sports and joined the Maryland Stadium Authority leadership team as vice president of marketing and communication in 2014.
Hasseltine was the chairman of the National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC) from April 2013-April 2014. During his tenure as chairman?, the association saw significant growth in membership, revenues and attendance at its annual Symposium. He served on the NASC Board of Directors for ?over 10 years?; five of those years on the Executive Committee and one year as the first-ever events right holder to serve on the NASC Board of Directors?. Hasseltine also serves on the Maryland Tourism Coalition Board of Directors, US Sports Congress Advisory Committee and serves in an advisory role with the Maryland Horse Industry Board.
Since arriving in Maryland, Hasseltine has been instrumental in leading various bid-development and event-support opportunities for the state related to the USEF CCI4*, FIFA World Cup™, ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships, NCAA Men’s Lacrosse National Championships, World Football Challenge (Chelsea v. AC Milan), Dew Tour, CONCACAF Gold Cup, IRONMAN Maryland, USATF Junior Olympics, Baltimore Grand Prix, Army-Navy football games and more.
Michigan: Ann Arbor
Meaghan Hughes, Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
Meaghan Hughes began her career at the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (AAACVB) in 2008. In 2009, Meaghan transitioned into the role of sports market sales executive, recruiting and servicing athletic events in the greater Ann Arbor area. The first significant event Meaghan serviced was the Dr. Porter Synchronized Skating Classic, welcoming more than 1,000 skaters, coaches and families. In July of 2016, Meaghan moved to the recently formed Ann Arbor Sports Commission.
In order to collaborate with others within the industry, Meaghan remains very involved in the National Association of Sports Commissions and has served on the Mentoring Committee since 2012. Meaghan has earned her Certified Sports Event Executive designation through the NASC and continues to take her re-certification credits annually.
Closer to home, Meaghan stays involved in the state and local sports market by serving as Volvik LPGA Chair of Volunteer Services and also co-chairs the Development Committee for Pure Michigan Sports.
In her spare time, she spends time with her husband and two young children. She also finds time to stay fit and healthy by going to her local CrossFit gym.
Michigan: Grand Rapids
Mike Guswiler, President, West Michigan Sports Commission
Mike Guswiler is president of the West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC), overseeing operations, the Meijer State Games of Michigan and championship-caliber Art Van Sports Complex. Mike has led the WMSC since its inception in 2007 as executive director and as president since 2013. Under his management, the commission has booked 568 sporting events in West Michigan that attracted 880,000 athletes and visitors, generating $240 million in visitor spending.
The WMSC celebrates a decade of success in 2017, a milestone credited to Guswiler for harnessing some of the $9 billion youth/amateur sports industry. Highlights under his leadership include opening a championship baseball-softball complex, creating Winter and Summer Games that attract 10,367 athletes in 62 sports, hosting the 2016 NASC Sports Event Symposium, and winning the bid to host the 2017 State Games of America.
The WMSC received recent accolades such as “Champion of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism” for the USA Track and Field 2016 Masters Outdoor Championships by Sports Destination Management, “Best Sports Destination” and “Best Sports Venue Professional to Watch” (Bryan Baar, Art Van Sports Complex) in the Readers’ Choice Awards by Sports Events, and finalist in the “Best-Managed Nonprofit Awards” ($1 - $3M) by MiBiz. Guswiler also was named a 2014 “Newsmaker of the Year” by Grand Rapids Business Journal.
Mississippi: Gulf Coast
Craig Mackay, Sports Development Manager, Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast
Sports development manager Craig Mackay joined the Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast team in November of 2015 and has made it his mission to showcase the variety and depth of sports facility offerings throughout the region.
Since joining the team, Craig has worked with Huddle Up Group to develop a sports tourism strategy to highlight the opportunities that exist on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He has also engaged groups like the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon, which brought in 3,300 runners, Athletx Baseball with 1,500 players, Southern Black Softball Association boasting 1,500 participants and 1,000 attendees for the National Veterans Golden Age Games.
Craig is also working to make planning a golf trip to the region seamless and exciting. Through partnering with the Mississippi Gulf Coast Golf Association on golfcoast.com, visitors can book tee times, view available packages, learn about the area’s dining and gaming options and more.
The area’s location, climate and affordable sports event venues are a perfect complement to 62 miles of scenic coastline. With an array of lodging accommodations and family entertainment, the Mississippi Gulf Coast provides the ultimate sporting experience for both participants and spectators alike.
Missouri: St Charles
Casey Lindsey, Greater Saint Charles Convention & Visitors Bureau
Casey brings to the Greater Saint Charles Convention & Visitors Bureau a wide range of hospitality industry experience from restaurant management, hotel management and sales, corporate meeting planning and account management with a destination management company. She is a former competitive softball player and long-distance runner, has always been an avid sports fan and is excited to be selling the City of Saint Charles as a sporting destination. She graduated with a B.S. in Hotel & Restaurant Management from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2007.
She is the current president of Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International’s Missouri Chapter and was awarded a 2016 Leadership Award for her dedication to the chapter’s growth and success.
A passionate St. Louis native, Casey is married and mom to two little boys who love all things hockey in Saint Charles. For the tournament director or rights holder, Casey is ready to find a first-class facility to act as host in a destination that is centrally located, affordable and offers attractions that will excite the entire family. Those who want to start planning a competition in a historically awesome destination can connect with Casey via e-mail at CLindsey@historicstcharles.com.
Derek Bombeck, Lincoln Convention & Visitors Bureau
Event owners would be hard-pressed to find anyone in Lincoln hosting a sporting event who has not interacted with Derek Bombeck. Derek has spent the past 15 years in Lincoln coordinating sports at every level. He began coordinating events at Nebraska Wesleyan University while earning two Bachelor’s degrees and running on the track team.
Derek spent the next 10 years as the director of events for the University of Nebraska Athletic Department and earned his Master’s in leadership education. He has called the Lincoln Convention & Visitors Bureau home for the past several years, and has helped recruit new sporting events to fill the facilities Lincoln has to offer.
Derek has an infectious personality that is evident to those who meet him. He is always the first to make sure everyone is having a good time around him while still getting the job done, which makes him the ideal sales person for sports in Lincoln. When Derek is not trying to sell organizations on all that Lincoln has to offer, he enjoys watching and playing sports, hunting and camping with his brothers and spending time with his wife, Jenny, and twins Collin and Graham.
New Jersey: Atlantic City
Daniel Gallagher, National Sales Manager, Meet AC and Atlantic City Sports Commission
Daniel Gallagher joined the Meet AC team in August 2014 as national sales manager with a concentration in the sports segment. He was previously with The Chelsea Hotel located in Atlantic City, as the director of corporate sales. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in public relations from Villanova University with a minor in psychology, where he graduated in 2011.
Daniel has been a true sports enthusiast from a young age, participating in a variety of sports growing up in Absecon, New Jersey, approximately nine miles from Atlantic City, where he currently resides. During his high school years at Holy Spirit, he was a four sport athlete, competing in soccer, track and field, basketball and wrestling.
During his time at Villanova, Daniel was an active member in a multitude of intramural sports, and was a three-year athlete for the up-and-coming game, Kronum, which has appeared on ESPN several times. Since Meet AC’s inception of the Atlantic City Sports Commission in January of 2015, he has assisted in landing premier events such as TEAMS, IRONMAN 70.3, Redbull Global Rallycross, Pro Watercross, USA National Armwrestling, and many more.
North Carolina: Asheville
Demp Bradford, Executive Director, Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission
Demp Bradford has worked in the sports tourism business for over 18 years. Demp became the executive director of the Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission in July of 2016 where he also serves as the head of the local organizing committee for the Southern Conference Basketball Championships.
In October of 2016, Demp successfully pulled together a diverse community coalition to keep the SoCon Championships in Asheville despite the exit of most college events from the state. Prior to his move to Asheville, he served as the director of events for the Tournament Host Committee of Greensboro and the vice president of the Greensboro Sports Commission where he worked with several NCAA and ACC Championships along with two US Figure Skating Championships.
Demp was the executive director of the Greensboro Youth Soccer Association from 1998-2004 and oversaw the expansion of the Bryan Park Soccer Complex and served as the tournament director for the 2003 USYSA Southern Regionals. He can be contacted at Demp@AshevilleSportsCommission.com.
Ohio: West Chester
Joshua Stephens, Director of Sports Marketing and Sales, Butler County Visitors Bureau
Joshua Stephens proudly calls Butler County, Ohio, his home. As director of sports marketing and sales for the Butler County Visitors Bureau, Joshua brings over 10 years of sales and event management experience to the BCVB. A team-oriented background in small business, hospitality, collegiate and the sports industry has proven invaluable in his role of bringing amateur, youth and national championship sporting events to the county.
Joshua is thrilled to use his passion for sports to represent Butler County’s burgeoning sports scene. The area boasts world-class facilities for any sporting event as well as first-class venues, quality hotels, choice restaurants, year-round attractions, easy access and friendly people. Joshua, along with the other Butler County Visitors Bureau sports professionals, are committed to giving event owners and teams the very best experience possible.
Joshua holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in sports management and administration from Miami University and Xavier University. He is a member of the National Association of Sports Commissions. He’s excited to help others discover why Butler County is a national leader in youth and amateur sports. Contact Joshua Stephens, director of sports marketing/sales, 888-462-2282, ext.105, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joey Jewell, Director of Sports Sales & Development, Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission
Joey Jewell is the Director of sports sales & development with the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission. Joey, a native of Austin, Texas, received his Bachelor’s degree in sport management at the University of Texas at Austin. During his time in Austin, he managed multiple sport events including Texas high school football combines and international swimming and diving events such as the 2008 US Masters Nationals Swim Meet. However, it wasn’t until he earned his graduate degree in Sport Administration and Policy at the University of Georgia that he developed an interest for sports tourism.
After spending time with the Harris County-Houston Sport Authority as volunteer coordinator and event intern for the 2011 Pan American and Parapan American Games U.S. Team Processing, Joey quickly identified his calling. Since then, he has worked with a number of high-profile sports entities, executing camp management, game day and grass roots marketing, public relations and sales.
Before joining the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission, Joey worked for the national governing body of bowling, where he advised and educated industry members on best practices for growing youth participation as well as managing the 2015 Youth Open. Joey can be reached at 541-743-8757 or Joey@EugeneCascadesCoast.org.
Pennsylvania: Hershey Harrisburg Region
Gregg Cook, Executive Director, Hershey Harrisburg Sports & Events Authority
Gregg Cook has a sports story for every local sports venue – a tie-in for every local sports occasion. He grew up in the Hershey Harrisburg region and he’s gone from buying $2 tickets when the Hershey Bears® played at historic Hersheypark® Arena, to playing a key role in attracting the US Eastern Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships to the state-of-the-art Giant CenterSM three times over.
Gregg is now the executive director of the Hershey Harrisburg Sports & Events Authority, a new division of the local tourism bureau that was launched to provide clients with more support before, during and post-event whether that event is on ice, grass, hardwood or any sporting surface in any venue. Prior to leading HHSE, Gregg was the tourism bureau’s sports marketing manager for 13 years and also worked with the Harrisburg Heat soccer team, Harrisburg Senators baseball and Hershey Bears® hockey.
If Gregg wants industry members to know one thing about him, it’s that he wants them to know Hershey Harrisburg. Hershey is familiar to many because of its iconic chocolate brand. Harrisburg is well-known as Pennsylvania’s capital. But getting to know the entire region as a sports destination is where the fun begins. Gregg wants to introduce people to his town, and he knows they’ll love what they find. Contact 717-231-2990, email@example.com or www.hhsportsandevents.com.
South Carolina: Columbia
Scott Powers, Executive Director, Experience Columbia SC Sports
Scott Powers has served as the executive director of Experience Columbia SC Sports since October 2004. The Experience Columbia SC Sports markets and sells the Columbia region as a premier destination for hosting sporting events and is an economic driver for the region’s billion-dollar tourism industry.
Scott came to the Sports Council from the Plantation Club in Blythewood, South Carolina, where he served as director of membership & activities and oversaw operations of the tennis and swim facilities. Scott is a 1994 graduate of the University of South Carolina with a degree in Sport & Entertainment Management After graduation, he spent 10 years working alongside the Carolina athletic department for Gamecock Sports Marketing.
Scott has earned his Certified Sports Events Executive accreditation from the National Association of Sports Commissions. He is a 2012 graduate of Leadership Columbia and served on its Advisory Board for three years. Scott was also a founding member of the South Carolina Sports Alliance and served as its treasurer for the past three years.
When Scott is not working, he enjoys traveling with his wife Helen, movies, reading, Gamecock athletics, outdoor activities and competitive shooting.
Lawanna Lambert, Director, Odessa Convention and Visitors Bureau
Lawanna has been with the Odessa Convention and Visitors Bureau since May 2013 and has a passion for her work, pouring her heart into the community. She began in the role of servicing specialist and within a few months, took on the state association sales position as well. Two years later, she was stepping in to do social media and sports. With well-rounded experience in the CVB to her credit, Lawanna was named the director and her real challenges began.
Odessa is a sports-minded community and everyone comes out to cheer on the teams, whether or not they have friends/family who play. “It’s second-nature here to support the sports,” Lawanna says. Odessa has seen the addition of a university football team, bringing a great economic impact on the community. Odessa is the home of the more than 75-year-old West Texas Relays, which draws teams from across the state, as well as New Mexico. This year, Odessa will host the state gymnastics meet and next year, welcomes a pro golf tournament.
During Lawanna’s short tenure as the director of the Odessa Convention and Visitors Bureau, she and her sports team have already seen a dramatic increase in overnight stays and economic impact. Requests for tournament funding have skyrocketed and the CVB couldn’t be happier. As she likes to say, “When passion and pride are combined with enthusiasm and energy, great things happen!”
Cissy Aberg, Sports Marketing Manager, Visit Plano
Something for event owners to consider: those whose children travel for sports already know Plano as a Mecca for youth recreational sports. Plano’s 75 square miles of park fields and sport facilities dominate the north Texas region. With the support of an experienced, award-winning athletics staff, Plano does youth sports right. Tournaments return year after year to enjoy the safe, affordable park fields, hotels, restaurants and attractions modern families enjoy.
The incredible sports infrastructure includes over 200 soccer fields, 80 tennis courts, 75 baseball and softball fields, two state-of-the art indoor wood floor court facilities and the only single park in North America with seven cricket pitches. Plano Parks and Rec received the Gold Award in 2015, which honors communities that demonstrate excellent long-range planning, resource management and innovation and creative approaches to designing and delivering superb services through fiscally sound business practices.
Cissy Aberg has been selling and marketing the sport fields and facilities in Plano, Texas, for over seven years now. She considers herself a sport event facilitator, not necessarily a sales person. The person who referred her for the job never told her it was a sales position, but helping people put on the best event possible is instinctive for this native Texan.
Texas: Round Rock
Nancy Yawn, CSEE, CDME, Director, Round Rock, Texas Convention and Visitors Bureau
As the director of the Round Rock, Texas Convention and Visitors Bureau, Nancy Yawn delivers a world-class experience with every tournament that is played in her dynamic community. As a partner to the teams she hosts, she is fully invested in their success. She was a pivotal player in the sports marketing efforts in Round Rock, helping to create a premier destination for sporting events and launching the region’s Sports Capital of Texas brand.
With Nancy’s continued dedication to the Sports Capital of Texas brand, Round Rock is on the map as a top destination in Texas for youth and amateur sports. Round Rock has played host to such events as 3v3 Live, the Super Series World Series 2016, Tour of Texas Power League Volleyball Qualifier, Heart of Texas Wrestling Nationals, and Ultimate High School State Championship.
Nancy was awarded the “Certified Sports Events Executive” designation through the National Association of Sports Commissions of which she is a former board member. She also received the Destination Management Association International’s designation of “Certified Destination Marketing Executive,” one of the highest certifications in the tourism industry. In 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2015, Sports Events Magazine named her as one of the top 50 planners in the United States. In 2015 and 2016, Sports Destination Management Magazine named her as one of the Who’s Who in Leadership. SDM