Who’s Who: Your New Go-To | Sports Destination Management

Who’s Who: Your New Go-To

Apr 29, 2015 | By: Mary Helen Sprecher

Looking for a new site for a sports event usually involves a checklist:

  • Great venue

  • Convenient access by air and road

  • Nearby hotels and restaurants

  • Postgame sightseeing appeal

What we sometimes forget is the personal touch. Knowledgeable, friendly personnel make all the difference in a location. With their help, you can raise your event from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Count on smart, savvy sports commissions and CVB executives to know all about venues, vendors and everything else about the city you’re visiting to help you do your job better.

On the following pages, SDM has compiled its list of the best of the best. These are the people you can trust with not only the big picture of what you want to accomplish, but the details that will bring it to fruition. From the national anthem to the final whistle, they stand ready to make your event a success.

Glendale, Arizona
Glendale Convention & Visitors Bureau
Lorraine Pino

Lorraine Pino is a pioneer in the field of tourism, serving as the manager of the Glendale, Arizona, Convention & Visitors Bureau, the first ever CVB in the entire West Valley region.

Pino was one of a select few in the Arizona tourism community to be profiled by AZBusiness Leaders (2015), a publication that celebrates professionals from a variety of sectors for their vision, influence and power.

A key element of Pino’s vision was recognizing that growth in Glendale tourism could also be the keystone to similar success in surrounding cities. So in 2010, Pino launched the expanded Glendale CVB which now represents 14 different communities.

In 2011, Pino accepted an appointment to her first term on the state of Arizona’s Tourism Advisory Council and she has just re-committed to a second five-year term. She is also active with other tourism and hospitality interests such as the Arizona Office of Tourism Local Visitor Information Center Advisory Board. Her professional memberships include Destination Marketing Association International, Valley Hotel & Resort Association, MPI, HSMAI, Western Association of Convention and Visitors Bureau. Pino is also involved with the Glendale Historical Society and the Glendale Woman’s Club and Glendale Civic Pride Ambassadors. www.visitglendale.com

Daytona Beach, Florida
Ocean Center Convention Center
Angela Daniels

Angela Daniels joined the staff of the Ocean Center Convention Center in June 2011 as an assistant director/director of sales, marketing and event services.

Mrs. Daniels has many years of experience in the hospitality industry. She was an integral part of the staff at the largest hotel in Daytona Beach, now a Hilton, for 20 years. Mrs. Daniels has served as president of many organizations and has been in the Daytona Beach community for over 30 years, supporting a variety of leadership roles.

As a result of her leadership, the Ocean Center has proved to be one of the leading sports facilities in Central Florida and a key component in the sports industry by hosting many national and regional sporting events. The Ocean Center has hosted the National Cheerleaders Association for 16 years and many other events such as cheer and dance, drill teams, volleyball and much more. It also hosted the International Gymnastics Federation 2014 World Trampoline & Tumbling event in November 2014. The marketing and management expertise possessed by Mrs. Daniels has put the Ocean Center Convention Center in Daytona Beach on the map as a viable meeting location. adaniels@oceancenter.com.

Decatur/Forsyth, Illinois
Decatur Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
Teri Hammel

A lifelong sports lover, Teri Hammel has been in the sports tourism business for more than 17 years. Her interest and passion made her lead the efforts to bring sports tournaments of all types to the Decatur/Forsyth area.

Hammel is recipient of the 2006 James Farrell Award of Excellence and the 2015 McCord/Rowe Award for Meritorious Service to Illinois ASA. Previously director of sales and finance, and now executive director, Teri stays connected to all of the planners who return annually. According to their testimonials, Decatur CVB support and services are why they stay, and why the sports market continues to boom in this Midwestern city.

Tournament directors new to the area will find that Teri and the DACVB staff serve as their liaison in the community, helping to maximize the opportunities available and create a successful event. The bureau’s dynamic new, mobile-friendly website was built with planners in mind and has a special tab for sports. Whether searching by sport category or venue, within a few clicks, planners can find site specifications, and upload an RFP directly to Teri and her crew.

Visit www.decaturcvb.com and tap Sports Planners in the header.

Peoria, Illinois
Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
Kailey Love

Kailey Love, sports sales manager, has been with the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau since February 2013, but has worked in the hospitality industry for more than eight years. She is a skilled runner and knowledgeable in all things sports.

Kailey is an active member of the Young Professionals of Greater Peoria, a group that in 2013 was instrumental in having Peoria named an All-America City for the fourth time by the National Civic League. During her tenure with the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Kailey has worked diligently to secure many significant sporting events as well as sustaining the existing sports clientele. Her extensive knowledge of the competitive sports market allows her to communicate with all levels of sporting event planners. The ability to develop relationships with the area’s more than 19 sporting venues and 42 hotels has created a seamless process, allowing sports planners to choose Peoria as their destination.

Due to the Peoria Area’s growth and expansion over the past 10 years, many new developments now call Peoria home. Most recently announced was the Louisville Slugger Sports Complex, opening summer of 2015. This adds to the many area amenities, ensuring plenty of opportunities for activities outside of sporting events.

Evansville, Indiana
Evansville Sports Corporation
Jason Sands

A native of Michigan City, Indiana, Jason Sands was graduated from Indiana University with a degree in sports communications. He became the first-ever executive director of the Evansville Sports Corporation in 2013 and has since secured and/or managed events like the NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Elite Eight and Cross Country National Championships as well as the PGA Web.com Tour United Leasing Championship.

Jason got his start in the sports tourism industry with the EVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour and eventually became the director of sports development for the South Shore CVA in 2005 where he helped create their sports commission, South Shore Sports. During his nearly eight years in the NW Indiana/Chicagoland area, Jason organized events with dozens of organizations including USA Weightlifting, USA Table Tennis, PBA, AAU, NSA, USBC, AJGA, LPGA, Professional Disc Golf Association, and the Horizon League. "You name it, we did it," said Sands.

A founding member of Indiana's sports tourism initiative, Sports Indiana, Sands is the president of the organization which boasts a statewide sports grant program to attract new business. "Our state takes great pride in providing a first-class experience for all participants and fans and we are dedicated to creating a championship atmosphere where events can thrive," said Sands.

Olathe, Kansas
Olathe Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
Brett Vena

Brett Vena joined the Olathe, Kansas, Convention & Visitors Bureau in 2012 and heads up the sports department as sales manager for sports and events. Prior to the Olathe Convention and Visitors Bureau, Brett served six years as assistant director of events for the Kansas City Sports Commission and produced large events such as the Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon, Buck O’Neil Negro Leagues Baseball Classic, Sprint Thanksgiving Day 5K and many others that were staples in Kansas City.

Brett is an active participant and member of the NASC and is currently in year two of the Certified Sports Event Executive (CSEE) program. At the Olathe CVB, Brett is instrumental in bringing events to the area to better the economic impact of Olathe and the region. Annually, Brett and the team in the CVB department produce the Garmin Marathon which has grown immensely to 5,000 participants.

Brett currently serves as secretary for the newly developed SportsKS, a statewide coalition promoting sport in the state of Kansas.

Brett is a recent graduate of the Leadership Olathe program and graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City with a bachelor’s degree in communications studies. www.olathe.org

Grand Rapids, Michigan
West Michigan Sports Commission
Mike Guswiler, CSEE, CTA

Recently named by the Grand Rapids Business Journal as ‘Newsmaker of the Year’ (sports category-2015), Mike has served over 25 years in the hospitality industry working for Hyatt Regency, Sheraton Hotels and other private and non-profit organizations geared toward economic impact through tourism.

A graduate of Central Michigan University, Leadership Grand Rapids (2006), and Leadership West Michigan (2008), Mike currently serves on the Grand Rapids Rowing Association Advisory Board, West Michigan Miracle League Board, and Transplant Games of America Board. Mike also recently served a term on the National Association of Sports Commissions Board of Directors (2011-13).

Mike is currently the President of the West Michigan Sports Commission, which he has led since their incorporation in 2007. Under Mike’s leadership, the West Michigan Sports Commission has more than tripled their annual budget and added two key operating arms in the State Games of Michigan and a new $7.8 million baseball/softball facility opening this year as the Art Van Sports Complex. Mike continues to consult additional sport infrastructure projects looking to build in West Michigan.

www.WestMichiganSportsCommission.com, www.StateGamesofMichigan.com, www.ArtVanSportsComplex.com

Columbus, Mississippi
Visit Columbus
Nancy Luke Carpenter

After serving over 30 years in Mississippi’s banking industry, Nancy Luke Carpenter began her career in tourism in 2008, as project director of the Columbus Cultural Heritage Foundation and the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Since January 2011, she has served as CEO and executive director of the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau and Executive Director and CEO of the Columbus Cultural Heritage Foundation. Also, in 2011 Governor Haley Barbour appointed Mrs. Carpenter to the Civil Rights Museum Commission representing the First Congressional District, and she was named to the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, receiving confirmation from the State of Mississippi.

Her latest achievement was her leading role in the restoration of the Old Hwy 82 pedestrian bridge, which now connects the Riverwalk Park and the Columbus Sportsplex. She is also committed to the growth and development of the sporting industry, both in Columbus and across the state.

She was instrumental in Columbus’ successful bid for soccer tournaments, and this year the city will once again play host to the President’s Cup Soccer Tournament which is the largest soccer tournament supported by the Mississippi Soccer Association.

Billings, Montana
Visit Billings
Kelly McCandless

One of the most important aspects of getting people to make your destination part of their itineraries is to deliver on your promises. After all, travel is a substantial monetary and time commitment. Customer service is a top priority for our destination and carrying the torch is Kelly McCandless. She is a client-minded individual who helps make Billings, Montana’s Trailhead a successful destination.

In the sports segment, Billings is an established yet emerging market. Contradictory? Perhaps. We have hosted major sporting events that have been around for decades like the Montana High School Association’s All-Class Wrestling Tournament with 10,000 athletes and fans, while successfully hosting new-to-Billings events like the 2014 NCAA DII Cross Country Region Championships and 2015 GNAC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships.

With all events, sports coverage is big in Billings and Kelly’s relationship with the local media outlets is a huge asset to both Visit Billings and event planners. The Billings community and surrounding regional residents want to know what’s happening in Billings and take part, while the visiting athletes, officials and fans want to be able to share highlights with folks back home. Kelly’s communication experience is top quality and is greatly appreciated by both her colleagues and clients alike. www.VisitBillings.com

Fayetteville, NC
Fayetteville Area CVB
Jesse Newsom

Jesse Newsom, a native North Carolinian, was raised in Jacksonville, North Carolina. He attended Middle Tennessee State University where he competed on the two-time defending Sun Belt Conference Championship track and field team as a discus and shot put competitor.

Jesse joined the Fayetteville Area CVB in 2012 as the sports marketing director. He has a reputation for thinking outside the box on events for organizations including USSSA, AAU, USATF, NCAA, WWE, USA Boxing, USYSA, Redfish Tour and others. His tenacity and work ethic helped him make an impact right from the start, securing the USA South Conference Basketball Championships in the first month of being with the FACVB.

Since 2008, Jesse has been an active member of both the North Carolina Sports Association (SportsNC) and the National Association of Sports Commissions. He participates on numerous committees within each organization and with over 12 years of experience in sporting competition and the travel industry, Jesse has become an encyclopedia of knowledge for many colleagues.

Those seeking to bring an event to Fayetteville should visit www.fayettevillencsports.com.

High Point, North Carolina
High Point Convention & Visitors Bureau
Marva Wells

To strengthen the High Point Convention & Visitors Bureau’s ability to serve sports enthusiasts considering the area as a destination for their events, Marva Wells decided to earn her Certified Sports Event Executive (CSEE) credential. To earn the designation, Marva completed a series of courses focused on the topics of strategic planning, sales and marketing, sports event management, the bid process and more. The courses include a mix of educational elements and practical application, all designed to raise the standards of professionalism in the sports tourism industry.

The program has provided Marva with new insights into key areas, such as bid preparation, finding affordable hotel rates, providing registration support and compiling restaurant and attraction information.

“The CSEE program helps me stay on top of ever-changing industry trends in sports tourism,” said Wells. “During the courses, I was able to meet with tourism officials from other similar-sized cities across the country, sharing success stories and ideas for how to make events the best they can be.
“We showcase High Point as state-of-the-art sports destination because that’s what it is. Let us help you make your next sports event a success. Contact me today!”

Mooresville, North Carolina
Mooresville Convention & Visitors Bureau
Leah Mitcham

Leah has the bases covered for hosting sports. She knows executing winning events takes more than just the right fields and venues. Leah has the right contacts to help make events hassle-free, and brings both experience and a genuine love of sports to the table. Over her eight years in the industry, she has worked with organizations both big and small and has coordinated with regional, statewide, and national events.

Some highlights of Mooresville CVB’s hosted events include the “King of Wake” Mastercraft Pro Wakeboard Tour, NC AAU Basketball 4th Grade Boys Division II National Championships, Powerade State Games wrestling, soccer and gymnastics, Top Gun Sports Baseball Summer National Championships, multiple FLW and ABA bass fishing tournaments and the annual Lake Norman Soccer Fall Classic.

Soccer and water sports on beautiful Lake Norman have long been a stronghold for sporting events in Mooresville. Thanks to the development of excellent new facilities, the Mooresville CVB has now expanded into wrestling, cycling, karting, baseball, softball, gymnastics, disc golf, tennis, basketball and martial arts. Beyond the new venues, the mild climate, desirable location, awesome hotels and fun stuff to do ensure a memorable experience for participants, all served with a side of warm southern hospitality. leah@racecityusa.org, www.racecityusa.org.

Raleigh, North Carolina
Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance
Scott Dupree

Scott Dupree is executive director of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance (GRSA), a division of the Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau. In that capacity, he is responsible for promoting Raleigh, Cary and Wake County as a premier destination for sporting events.

Over the past five years, the GRSA has helped bring more than 340 sporting events to Greater Raleigh, resulting in more than 540,000 hotel room nights and $180 million in direct visitor spending.

Dupree is currently chair of the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball local organizing committee, a position he also held for the 2014 NCAA tournament as well. He served as co-chair of the local organizing committee for the 2011 NHL All-Star Weekend, which was rated by many observers as the most successful All-Star Weekend in league history.

Recently, Dupree directed the city’s successful efforts to bring both the Ironman 70.3 series and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series to Raleigh.

Dupree worked for 11 years in collegiate athletics at Arizona State University, the University of Notre Dame and the University of North Carolina. He has worked at numerous ACC Tournaments, NCAA basketball and baseball regionals, college bowl games, the College World Series and the Final Four.

Lincoln, Nebraska
Lincoln Convention & Visitors Bureau
Derek Bombeck

You 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. Derek has called the Lincoln Convention & Visitors Bureau home for the past 18 months. Here, he 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.

Haddon Township, New Jersey
Vist South Jersey
Jake Buganski

Jake Buganski is the Executive Director of Visit South Jersey, the Destination Marketing Organization charged with marketing the area of Southern New Jersey outside of Philadelphia, including South Jersey’s burgeoning wine region. He joined Visit South Jersey in 2005 as a Communications Specialist, and was promoted to Director of Communications and Technology in 2007. In 2009, Jake took over as Executive Director, and was immediately tasked with a major restructuring of the organization.

Between 2010 and 2014, Jake spearheaded efforts to reposition South Jersey as a wine and culinary destination, redeveloping the regional tourism there model from the ground up. As a result of this new vision for the destination, the four counties represented by Visit South Jersey were four of the top five in New Jersey in 2014, in terms of rate of growth in tourism-related expenditures.

Having spent almost his entire life in South Jersey, being born in Rhode Island is the only thing keeping Jake from being “born and raised” in the destination he serves. His pride for the area has fueled his desire to see it thrive.

This summer, Jake expects to receive his Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) credential from Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI).

Lake Erie Shores & Islands
Amanda Smith Rasnick, CMP

Since 2009, Amanda Smith Rasnick, CMP, has been the group sales manager for the Lake Erie Shores & Islands CVB located in Northern Ohio. She leads a team of professionals, each with a distinct market focus. Under Amanda’s leadership, the team secured 211 definite bookings, producing over 42,500 room-nights last year. Amanda’s core markets are corporate, association, religious and sports groups and events.

What makes Lake Erie Shores & Islands a unique sports location are miles of freshwater beaches, beautiful scenery, access to water and fun attractions. Lake Erie Shores & Islands is fortunate to have picturesque roads, challenging fields and open parks to attract event organizers.

Since targeting sports groups, Amanda has secured the Adrenaline Sports Management Santa Hustle, The Color Run and several fishing tournaments as well as assisting in the Challenge Cedar Point Triathlon, Roller Coaster Rumble Lacrosse Tournament and more. Amanda is a member of Meeting Professionals International, where she serves as director of professional development for the Ohio Chapter. She received her CMP designation in 2013 and is an active member in the National Association of Sports Commission.

Sports events directors looking for a spectacular venue and destination with professional, helpful service should contact Amanda at amanda@shoresandislands.com.

Miami County, Ohio
Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau
Leiann Stewart

Leiann Stewart began as group sales manager at the Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau in 2013 and came to the bureau with 14 years of sales and marketing management experience. Leiann is tasked with increasing visitors to Miami County through groups and sporting events or tournaments.

The sports tourism segment is a recent focus for the Miami County Visitors Bureau. However, Miami County has hosted several local, regional and national competitions throughout the years, including the National Summer Ice Skate Competition at Hobart Arena and the Strawberry Festival Soccer Tournament bringing in approximately 350 teams year after year. With its proximity to I-75, I-70 and Dayton, inventory of fields and facilities as well as Hobart Arena, commitment to customer service and its endless number of fantastic attractions and restaurants, Miami County is an ideal location for sporting event planners.

Leiann’s dedication to customer service and knowledge of the area will help make planning easier and experiences exceptional.

For more information on planning an event in Miami County, please visit www.homegrowngreat.com or contact Leiann Stewart at lstewart@homegrowngreat.com, 1-800-348-8993.

Hartsville, South Carolina
Darlington County Tourism
Jessica Cohen

Jessica Cohen became director of Darlington County Tourism in 2014. Prior, she was the communications assistant for the Greater Hartsville Chamber of Commerce which Darlington County Tourism is a branch of. She envisions Darlington County as a premier sports and recreation destination and has joined the South Carolina Sports Alliance to further her ability to lobby on the county’s behalf.
To further this initiative, Jessica has created a Sports Facility Guide Book specifically for the hands of tournament planners and directors. The guide book is a pamphlet containing all of Darlington County’s facilities and natural resources. With its small town flair and abundance of treasures, Darlington County is the ideal location for youth athletic events.
In efforts of further facilitating county residents and tourist, she began constructing a county app to serve as digital visitor’s guide. The app will be useful in dispersing specific information such as restaurant, event and hotel details.
Jessica is currently enrolled in Coker College’s graduate program where she plans to obtain a master’s degree in sports administration. For more information regarding Darlington County Tourism, contact Jessica at 843-332-6559 or e-mail her at darcotour@visitdarlingtoncounty.org.

Anderson County, Tennessee
Anderson County Tourism Council
Diane Ilgner

Diane Ilgner recently joined the Anderson County Tourism Council as the sales/events/community development coordinator. Diane has worked extensively in Anderson County, Tennessee, with various city and county officials, businesses, attractions, venues and landowners throughout the county. Through her ability to work with others, build consensus, attention to detail and thorough planning, Diane and the rest of the Anderson County Tourism Council team are ready to make each event the best ever.

Diane’s focus for Anderson County is on arranging outdoor events to take advantage of the many natural resources. Norris Lake with 800 miles of shoreline, Windrock Park with 72,000 acres of privately owned land in the Cumberland Mountains, the Clinch River and Melton Hill Lake with over 30 miles of flat, calm water and more than 180 miles of mountain bike trails are a few of Diane’s favorite places.

Diane’s love of the outdoors, knowledge of the resources available and working relationship with contacts throughout the area give customers the edge in making their next event successful. Anderson County is located in East Tennessee along I-75 and I-40 just north of Knoxville, Tennessee. From finding a great outdoor venue to coordinating with hotels, Diane is a “can do” connection.

Fort Worth, Texas
Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau
Josh Dill

Sports have always played a starting role in the life of Josh Dill, so it comes as no surprise that he has spent his entire professional career in the sports event industry. In July of 2013, Josh was tasked with leading the sports marketing efforts for the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau. In his time in Fort Worth, Josh has served on local organizing committees for major events like the NCAA Men’s Final Four and the inaugural College Football Playoff Championship Game. He was also instrumental in securing NCAA Women’s Gymnastics National Championships, the first NCAA Championship to be hosted within the Fort Worth city limits. He currently serves on the advisory boards of the U.S. Sports Congress and Fort Worth Tennis Association.

In October of 2012, Josh completed a four-year process to earn his Certified Sports Event Executive designation from the National Association of Sports Commissions.

Josh and his wife, Meghan, are avid fans of the Texas Tech Red Raiders, Cowboys, Stars and Mavericks. They enjoy sharing their love of all things sports with their two-year-old daughter, Mackenzie.

Frisco, Texas
Frisco Convention & Visitors Bureau
Ryan Callison

Ryan Callison has been in the tourism and hospitality industry for over 8 years now and currently serves as the PR and marketing manager for the Frisco Convention & Visitors Bureau.

His passion for the tourism and hospitality industry and jod love of graphic design and communications keep him energized and ready to promote the city of Frisco every day.

When he has any downtime, you can find him on the golf course in the spring, the slopes in the winter and his favorite vacation destination in Iceland.

Ryan also loves to fire up his smoker throughout the year and make his award-winning ribs with his own homemade rub. www.visitfrisco.com

McAllen Convention and Visitors Bureau
McAllen, Texas
Robert Lopez

Robert Lopez is a McAllen, Texas native and is the directors of sales for the McAllen Convention and Visitors Bureau and Sports Commission. Prior to joining the CVB and Sports Commission, he worked in the hotel industry for six years in various roles.

Robert held positions with the RGV Killer Bees and Arena Football 2’s RGV Dorados early in his career before becoming the assistant sports information director at the University of Texas Pan American.

As the director of sports tourism sales for the newly-formed McAllen Sports Commission, Robert facilitates the growth of the cities sports tourism market and has attracted notable events, including the TAAF Games of Texas in 2016 and 2017. He also assisted in creating the Atlas International Soccer Tournament which hosted 100 teams, including 60 from Mexico.

“As someone who was born and raised in McAllen, I have a true passion for what the city is doing,” said Lopez.

Robert is involved in civic organizations, including the McAllen Parks & Recreation Advisory Board, Leadership McAllen, Emerging Leaders and serves on various committees. He is a graduate of the University of Texas Pan American where he earned a Bachelors Degree in Broadcast Journalism.

For more information, visit www.mcallencvb.com/sports

Round Rock, Texas
Round Rock, Texas Convention and Visitors Bureau
Nancy Yawn, CSEE, CDME

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. Responsible for starting the sports marketing effort in Round Rock and launching the region’s Sports Capital of Texas brand, these efforts helped create a premier destination for sporting events.

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 2014, Tour of Texas Power League Volleyball Qualifier, Heart of Texas Wrestling Nationals and Ultimate Frisbee 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 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, and 2014, Sports Events Magazine named her as one of the top 50 planners in the U.S.

Loudon, Virginia
Visit Loudoun
Torye Hurst

Torye Hurst is in his first year as National Sports Sales Manager with Visit Loudoun. In this role he is responsible for attracting sporting events to the area.

Prior to his current position, Hurst served in a similar position as Director of Sports Sales & Marketing with the Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau in Biloxi, Miss.

Hurst served for 11 years at Virginia Tech as associate director of athletics communications working with the women’s basketball program and the men’s and women’s tennis programs. He also was the radio voice of Tech baseball for eight season.

Prior to arriving in Blacksburg, Hurst was the director of marketing and media relations for the Peach Belt Conference in Augusta, Ga. In 1996, he also was a member of the media relations team for the Centennial Olympic Games serving as the interview room manager at the Stone Mountain Tennis Center.

Hurst completed a bachelor’s of science degree in radio, television and film in 1982 from the University of Southern Mississippi and completed a master’s degree in sports administration from Southern Miss in 1992.

William P. Beecher, CPO
Christiansburg, Virginia
Christiansburg Aquatic Center

A lifelong aquatic enthusiast, Bill Beecher has been in the field for more than 50 years. Currently, he is the aquatics tournament coordinator at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center in Christiansburg, Virginia.

Bill graduated from Virginia Tech with a master’s degree in education in 1976. He served as the head swim coach at Virginia Tech (men’s and women’s) from 1976-78. He has held various positions in the New River Valley and Roanoke, Virginia. From 1987-2010, he was the Aquatics Director at Radford University’s Dedmon Center.

Coaching is Bill’s passion; he started Radford University’s women’s varsity swim team and served on the board of directors for Virginia Swimming and was a United States Swimming National Committee member.

He has been organizing and facilitating USA Swimming and Diving events for the Christiansburg Aquatic Center since 2010, including coordination of Virginia Tech swim and dive meets. As Bill nears retirement, the aquatic field is in no way ready to let go of a man with his dedication, passion and commitment to the sport of swimming.

For more information about the Christiansburg Aquatic Center and current competitive operations under Bill Beecher, please visit www.christiansburg.org/aquatics or 540-381-7665.

Campbell County, Wyoming
Gillette and Wright, Wyoming-Campbell County Convention & Visitors Bureau
Mary Silvernell

As executive director for the Campbell County CVB in northeast Wyoming since February 2010, Mary Silvernell is working to grow the sports travel and tourism industry. Drawing on her past experiences in Orlando, Florida, at the Walt Disney World Resort for 25 years in the resort hotels and in golf operations, and with the RDV Sports organization as the director of events and retreats and fan relations director for the Orlando Magic NBA team, Mary is thrilled with the sports destination growth opportunities in her corner of Wyoming.

Gillette and Wright are widely known in the region for their premier facilities, including the CAM-Plex Multi-Event Center, the state-of-the-art Recreation Center, Olympic-sized Aquatic Center, and opening in 2015, the “Field of Dreams” baseball/softball complex, as well as the Southern Campbell County Ag Complex, perfect for rodeo and equestrian events. Gillette has hosted the Rocky Mountain Nationals Wresting events, the ASA National Tournament in 2014, University of Wyoming Track and Field meets and the National High School Finals Rodeo, among many other tournaments and sports events.

With a focus on customer service and perfect event coordination, Mary is looking forward to bringing many more events to Gillette and Wright. Contact her at 307-686-0040, cccvb.director@orbitcom.biz, www.facebook.com/VisitGilletteWright, www.visitgillettewright.com

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