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Connecting with Great Partners for Long-Term Success

28 Feb, 2019

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

A destination can have great venues, excellent amenities and wonderful weather but ultimately, it’s the professionals at the CVB and sports commission level who make the difference between a nice event and a spectacular one that has your athletes asking to return. Unfortunately, it can take time to create those partnerships and, in many cases, it’s been hard to know where to look – until now. Sports Destination Management has compiled a who’s who of the top professionals coast to coast. Want to learn about venues in a specific area? Need to find a new home for your tournament? Have a question that only someone with expertise can answer? The following list should get you started.

California: Irvine
Dave Lucey, Destination Irvine

Dave Lucey joined the Destination Irvine team in April 2017 as a sales manager. Lucey has nearly 17 years of hotel sales experience, with the majority concentrating on the sports and specialty markets.

Recently promoted to the director of sports sales, Lucey promotes Irvine’s sports facilities as a preferred destination for large-scale sporting events to the national market. In his role, he oversees the demands of a growing sports market, as the development of the 194-acre Great Park Sports Complex, including the new 280,000-square-foot ice facility and the 2,500-seat championship soccer stadium, have been completed.

His efforts help Irvine increase its footprint in the sports market, not just in Southern California but throughout the U.S. Lucey played an instrumental role in bringing the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) 2018 and 2019 Men’s Soccer National Championship to Irvine. In 2018, he was honored as a Connect Sports Game Changer.

Located in the center of Orange County, Irvine is just 45 miles south of Los Angeles and 90 miles north of San Diego. Irvine averages 280+ sunny days a year with an annual high temperature of 72.7°F.

Dave Lucey can be reached at 949-502-4114 or via e-mail at dave@destinationirvine.com. 

California: Redding
Sabrina Jurisich, Redding Convention and Visitors Bureau

Sabrina Jurisich is the Shasta County Sports Commissioner for the Redding Convention and Visitors Bureau (RCVB.) The RCVB is a non-profit organization which is supported by Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) and a TMBID, which is a self-assessment from the hoteliers to increase funding for marketing to enhance the area’s quality of life and generate economic and social benefit for the community.

With a diverse background of event management and marketing, Sabrina has come to the sports industry after 16 years in the non-profit sector helping the community thrive. Since arriving at the RCVB in January 2016, she has developed strong community relationships, secured new events and elevated the experience of returning events. The warm welcome of the Redding community, along with the exceptional adventures available, continue to showcase Redding as a unique sports destination.

Sabrina was born in Anchorage, Alaska, experienced living in various parts of California from the Mojave Desert, Sonoma County and Monterey Bay before moving to Redding, where she completed her B.A. degree at Simpson University and has chosen to raise her family. She is married to Joshua Jurisich. They have two sons, Dakota and Austin, a daughter, Isabella, daughter-in-law, Faith, and grandson, Joshua.

Florida: Lake County
Steven Clenney, Visit Lake

Steven Clenney has served for two years as the Manager of Sports Development for Visit Lake in Lake County, Florida. Clenney has nearly 15 years of event management and sports marketing experience including time at the Greater Orlando Sports Commission and the NBA G-League. As a member of the Greater Orlando Sports Commission, he was a part of the opening team for the $27 million Boombah Sports Complex at Seminole County and Boombah-Soldiers Creek Park.

Clenney is responsible for recruiting new event opportunities and continuing the championship history of the Central Florida destination. In this role, he will also coordinate projects such as the $1.5 million Hickory Point Beach Athletics Center, which will add state-of-the-art amenities to the largest sand volleyball complex in the state of Florida, Hickory Point Beach. Clenney also oversees the completion of the Lake County Disc Golf Trail, which will have six championship-level disc golf courses designed to host regional, national and international tournaments.

Clenney has worked with a variety of events such as the Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) Tour, Bassmaster, USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint National Championships, the inaugural AVCA Small College Beach Volleyball Championship and others.

Florida: Palm Beach County
Scott Glinski, Palm Beach County Sports Commission

Scott Glinski, a Michigan native, graduated from Northwood University in West Palm Beach, Florida, with a degree in business administration and specialized in the field of sports, entertainment and promotion management.

Scott joined the Palm Beach County Sports Commission in 2007. As the Senior Marketing and Communications Manager, Scott has consistently found innovative solutions to grow tourism in The Palm Beaches. Throughout his career in sports tourism, he has had the privilege of working with many different types of events and projects including The Honda Classic, Winter Equestrian Festival, USA Field Hockey National Hockey Festival, and the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award which is given annually to the nation’s best place-kicker in Division I collegiate football.

Scott is proud to promote world-class venues and facilities such as Florida Atlantic University Stadium, International Polo Club and two MLB Spring Training stadiums that play host to the Miami Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros and Washington Nationals. Glinski believes the Palm Beach County Sports Commission is dedicated to providing an excellent experience and unsurpassed level of customer service, while inviting you to “Just Bring Your Game and Discover The Palm Beaches.” Those interested can contact Scott at sglinski@palmbeachsports.com or 561-233-3182.

Florida: Sports Coast (formerly Pasco County)
Consuelo Sanchez, Experience Florida’s Sports Coast

Consuelo Sanchez joined Experience Florida’s Sports Coast in 2015. In 2017, she was promoted to Sports Development & Tourism Manager. During her time at FSC, she has led sports tourism sales, assisted in the development of Florida’s Sports Coast’s brand identity and has nearly completed her CSEE accreditation.

Consuelo, originally from Colombia, moved to the U.S. six years ago and brought with her over 20 years of experience in project management and business development. Consuelo has been instrumental in landing national and international events such as the Torhs 2Hot4Ice National Championships.

For the last two years, Consuelo has been actively attending industry trade shows and conferences to build and maintain relationships with NGBs and event planners. During this time, she has successfully promoted Florida’s Sports Coast as being one of the premier destinations for amateur and youth sports events.

Over the next year, FSC will be hosting multiple events for USA Hockey including the 15th USA Disabled Hockey Festival. In 2020, the state-of-the-art Wiregrass Ranch Sports Complex will open.
Consuelo works very closely with hoteliers, restaurateurs and other hospitality stakeholders to guarantee that both event planners and attendees have the best experience when coming to FSC.

Florida: Port St. Lucie
Rick Hatcher, CSEE, Treasure Coast Sports Commission

Rick Hatcher is the current Executive Director of the Treasure Coast Sports Commission, located on the Central East Coast of Florida. He has over 23 years of experience in the sports tourism industry. Hatcher currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Florida Sports Hall Of Fame and is a past Board Member of the Florida Sports Foundation. Rick also serves on the National Association of Sports Commission’s (NASC) Leadership Council as a past Chairman and is also on the NASC’s Hall of Fame selection committee.

Hatcher has been an executive director of sports commissions in Lexington, Kentucky, and Tallahassee, Florida. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the National Congress of State Games.

Prior to getting into the sports tourism industry, Rick was a college baseball coach at the University of Tennessee, Georgia Tech and the University of South Carolina.

Georgia: Rome
Ann Hortman, CSEE, Rome Sports

Ann Hortman has been director of Rome Sports since its inception in 2013 and previously served as Sales and Sports Marketing Coordinator for Georgia’s Rome Office of Tourism.

Ann has been instrumental in Rome hosting the NAIA Football National Championship Game, the NCCAA Victory Bowl and National Track & Field Championships, Georgia High School Championships and the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Men’s & Women’s Tennis Championships.

An avid advocate for adaptive sports, Ann has brought top athletes in the world to Rome by establishing and organizing several events, including the only handcycling stage race in the USA, (ongoing for 13 years), a USTA award-winning regional wheelchair tennis tournament and an International Tennis Federation wheelchair tennis tournament that draws world top-ranked players from over 20 countries annually.
Rome is home to Rome Tennis Center at Berry College, one of the nation’s largest tennis facilities. As part of the advisory team, Ann was instrumental in ensuring the facility was over ADA standards to accommodate athletes of all abilities.

Ann is a Certified Sports Events Executive, has served on the NASC Symposium and Education Committees, and was a speaker at the NASC Symposium. She currently serves as President of Georgia Sports.

Georgia: Valdosta-Lowndes County
Chris Hamilton, Valdosta-Lowndes County Conference Center & Tourism Authority

Chris Hamilton has been a destination CEO for nearly 15 years and has worked extensively in sports recruitment throughout his career. He is currently President & CEO of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Conference Center & Tourism Authority and manages a $5.1 million budget with a staff of 35 over eight departments.

Hamilton has built a reputation in the industry for diversifying destination portfolios with sports that were not previously believed to be attainable. He has accomplished this by working with stakeholders, government bodies and other entities to craft creative proposals that are not only appealing to clients but also deliver business and value to participants in the effort.

Hamilton is the driving force behind marketing campaigns that correspond with recruitment efforts and has won numerous awards for innovation, creativity and results. He has served on park boards, recruitment committees, professional panels and is a frequent guest speaker and consultant for destination bureaus and other organizations.

Hamilton is a Certified Tourism Professional, Certified Tourism Marketing Professional, Certified Festivals & Events Specialist, Certified Entrepreneurial Coach and a graduate of the Institute for Organization Management.

Illinois: Rockford
Lindsay Arellano, CSEE, Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

Lindsay Arellano joined the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, in Rockford, Illinois, in 2001. Arellano has nearly 18 years of experience serving in a variety of roles with the RACVB including her most recent position as vice president of sales and service. She leads a winning sales team responsible for retaining sports tournaments and drawing new events to the Rockford region each year.

Arellano is a Rockford native with an extensive sports background that has come in handy as she works to book special events such as soccer, basketball and volleyball tournaments. She works diligently with her customers to ensure they receive top-notch service when choosing the Rockford region as a host destination.

One of Arellano’s biggest accomplishments was bringing the Tough Mudder, a series of hardcore obstacle course/mud run events to town. The event has been a success, drawing nearly 10,000 attendees annually and over $3 million in economic impact to the region over the past three years.

Arellano has also been named a Certified Sports Event Executive by the National Association of Sports Commission (NASC), named a Rockford Chamber of Commerce 40 under 40 Leader in 2016, took part in earning the award-winning Sports Tourism Organization of the Year award and sits as Chair of Sports Illinois.

Louisiana: Jefferson Parish
Robin Jones, Jefferson Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc.

The Jefferson Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc. (JCVB) welcomed Robin Jones as the new Senior Sales Manager in July of 2018. Robin brings a range of experience to the JCVB with a proven track record of success in hospitality sales, which lends well to attracting new visitor business to Jefferson Parish while strengthening member and partner relations.

A versatile sports destination, Jefferson Parish hosts youth, amateur and professional sporting events offering a variety of venues, including two indoor sports centers, sand volleyball and soccer facilities, numerous multi-purpose fields and NOLA Motorsports Park, the largest karting facility in North America with a 2.75-mile world-class track.

Just next door to New Orleans, Jefferson Parish is an ideal destination for hosting events of various sizes, all while offering affordability and convenience as well as authentic Louisiana cuisine and exciting attractions.

Robin’s intuitive ability to instantly gain client trust and build rapport has made her an asset to the sports market at the JCVB. Her solution oriented and “can do attitude” have been instrumental in marketing and selling the destination brand experience. Those wanting to connect with Robin can do so at Robin@visitjeffersonparish.com.

Maryland
Terrance (Terry) Hasseltine, CSEE, CTA, Maryland’s Sports Commission; 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.

Professional honors and awards received:
• 2017 Sport Tourism Executive of the Year by the NASC
• 2017 Tourism Partner of the Year by Wicomico County Recreation, Parks and Tourism
• 2011, 20 most powerful people in Baltimore by the Baltimore Business Journal’s Power 20: The Next Generation
• 2010 Most Influential Marylander – Civic Leadership by The Maryland Daily Record
• 2004 Kentucky Colonel

Hasseltine was the Chairman of the National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC) from April 2013-April 2014. 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. 

Hasseltine is a 20+ year veteran of the sport tourism and sports event industry. He has helped build two long-standing statewide collaborative initiatives in TEAM Maryland and TEAM Kentucky.

Michigan: Lansing
Mike Price, Greater Lansing Sports Authority

Mike Price is the Executive Director of the Greater Lansing Sports Authority (GLSA), an organization he helped found in 2006. The GLSA has also been recognized as a best practice sports commission, having received numerous recognitions from the National Association of Sports Commissions, including being recognized as “Sports Commission of the Year.”

Mike is also the co-founder of the statewide sports co-op, Pure Michigan Sports. Pure Michigan Sports consists of 14 member cities across Michigan, who leverage the award-winning “Pure Michigan” campaign to raise the profile of Michigan as a sport tourism destination.

Mike is dedicated to growing sport in the community and has taken an active role in volunteering for organizations that positively impact youth and their ability to participate in sports. Mike is the Chair of the CASE Cares Foundation and an active board member of the Miracle League of mid-Michigan. These two organizations were instrumental in the creation of the CASE Cares Miracle Field and the programming that allows children of all abilities the opportunity to play Miracle League baseball. He has the pleasure of serving as Treasurer of the National Association of Sports Commissions board of directors and numerous other boards and commissions.

Nebraska: Lincoln
Derek Bombeck, Lincoln Convention & Visitors Bureau

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.

New York: Lake George
Kristen Hanifin, Lake George Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau

Kristen Hanifin, Special Events and Convention Sales Director for the Lake George Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau, is a seasoned, 20-plus-year veteran in the tourism and hospitality industry, whose passion and creativity have successfully increased sporting events, destination brand awareness, and occupancy in the Lake George region by 20 percent since her arrival in 2016. Her recent sporting accomplishments for 2019 include hosting the 83rd USBC Women’s Bowling Championships, Firecracker Baseball’s Battle of the Borders, Aurora Games Women’s Hockey Week and the IREVA Regional Junior Volleyball Championships.

Prior to her position at the Lake George Regional CVB, Kristen worked domestically and internationally as a director of marketing, corporate social responsibility director and group sales director for numerous organizations. Her extensive experience in event management, sponsorship and economic development enabled her to secure $207,000 in state and local grant funding for 2019 events. A lifelong sports enthusiast, daughter of a professional basketball player and former Division III collegiate field hockey player, Kristen has a long-standing passion for sports, reflected in her ongoing dedication to the industry.

Pennsylvania: Erie
Mark Jeanneret, Erie Sports Commission

Mark Jeanneret was promoted to Executive Director of the Erie Sports Commission in July 2018, after having previously served as the organization’s first Events Director since June 2013.

The Erie Sports Commission experienced significant growth during Jeanneret’s tenure as Events Director, increasing its number of events hosted from 19 in 2013 to 59 in 2017. Jeanneret’s work was critical to Erie’s selection as host for several high-profile events, including the 2018 Ice Breaker Tournament presented by LECOM and the 2021 NCAA Women’s Frozen Four, among others. He earned his CSEE certification in 2017.

Jeanneret was hired by the Erie Otters (Ontario Hockey League) as the team’s first director of media relations and play-by-play announcer in 1996. He spent more than 11 seasons with the organization—including describing every moment of the team’s thrilling run to their first Ontario Hockey League Championship in 2002—before taking his talents to the American Hockey League in 2009. Jeanneret had many other high-level responsibilities during his tenure with the club, including overseeing marketing, communications and special events.

In addition to experience in sports event management and administration, Jeanneret is also a seasoned journalist, having worked for a number of publications in the Northeast.

Tennessee: Rutherford County
Barbara Wolke, Rutherford County Convention & Visitors Bureau

Barbara Wolke joined the Rutherford County Convention & Visitors Bureau staff in 2003. She has 32 years of experience in sales and the hospitality industry. Barbara earned her designation as a Certified Hospitality Sales Professional from the Educational Institute with the American Hotel & Motel Association. She earned industry designations as a Travel Marketing Professional from the Southeast Tourism Society Marketing College and as a Certified Tennessee Tourism Professional from the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable. She is a graduate of the Dale Carnegie Training Course and Leadership Rutherford.

Barbara has worked with TSSAA for the past 15 years to coordinate championship sporting events in Rutherford County with a focus to deliver an exceptional experience for high school athletes from across the state. Barbara prides herself on extraordinary customer service and hospitality. She strives to make each event successful and a truly special event.

Texas: Beaumont
Freddie Willard, Beaumont Texas Convention and Visitors Bureau

Freddie Willard, Director of Sales, leads the Beaumont Texas Convention and Visitors Bureau convention sales team to promote the city a premier sports and meeting destination. With 26 years of industry experience, she has developed many valuable client relationships working closely with sporting groups, tournament planners and associations to ensure their events receive the absolute best service and experience.

An active member of TACVB, NASC, TSAE, SGMP, Freddie is a driven professional who is always on the move. She enjoys working with new and prospective clients to show off Beaumont’s vast capabilities. Her “get it done” attitude and strong attention to detail are a core asset highly valued by her clients as well as the Beaumont CVB team.

Freddie is currently working with Linda George, USA Softball District 39 Commissioner, on their 8-Under Pixy State Championship who expressed the sentiment, “I could NOT do this without Freddie! I think we can breathe easier now that it’s in the hands of the folks getting the work done. Thank you so much, Freddie!”

Ramping up for another solid year, Freddie just booked the Texas Crime Stoppers Campus Conference for 2021 in Beaumont and is also currently working with the National Beep Baseball Association, to bid on their 2021 World Series.

Texas: Plano
Cissy Aberg, Visit Plano

Consider this: If your child travels for sports, you already know Plano is a mecca for youth recreational sports. Plano’s 75 square miles of park fields and sports 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, 133 public tennis courts, 168 athletic fields, including 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 was awarded 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 nine years now. She considers herself a sport event facilitator rather than a sales representative. Helping directors put on the best event possible is instinctive for this native Texan.

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

As the Director of the Round Rock, Texas Convention and Visitors Bureau, Nancy Yawn continues to deliver 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. In fact, this year, Round Rock will host three national championships.

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, 2016, 2017 and 2018 Sports Destination Management magazine named her to Who’s Who in Leadership.

Virginia: Loudoun
Torye Hurst, Visit Loudoun

Torye Hurst is in his second year as Director of Sales, Sports & Services with Visit Loudoun after previously serving for two years as National Sports Sales Manager for the organization. In his current position, Hurst is responsible for attracting sporting events to the area.

Prior to Visit Loudoun, Hurst was the Director of Sports Sales & Marketing with the Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Hurst worked for 20 years in collegiate athletics prior to entering the sports tourism field. He served for 11 years at Virginia Tech as Associate Director of Athletics Communications and nine years prior as the Director of Marketing & Media Relations with the Peach Belt Conference in Augusta, Georgia.

During his tenure at Virginia Tech, Hurst served as the media coordinator for the 2004 NCAA Women’s Basketball first and second rounds in Blacksburg, Virginia. Additionally, Hurst has handled the play-by-play duties for the Tech baseball program for eight years.

In 1996, he 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 earned both a B.S. degree in radio, television and film and an M.S. degree in sports administration from the University of Southern Mississippi where he worked following graduation for eight years as the program manager of WUSM-FM.

Virginia: Stafford
Lisa Logan, Stafford Tourism

One of Lisa’s favorite responsibilities as manager of Stafford’s tourism outreach is to work with sports tournament rights holders and the county’s local venues to create signature sports events. Lisa helps create and support multiple signature events in Stafford County while continuing to market all the county’s tourism assets and support regional and state tourism. In that capacity, Lisa participates in numerous conferences in order to develop relationships with people from around the country who are planning events.

As a veteran events planner, Lisa understands that a successful tournament or conference depends as much on the extracurricular recreational or tourism offerings as the event’s facilities. Often, families attending sports tournaments want to extend their visit into a meaningful family vacation.

“Event planners are often surprised to learn how close we are to some of the nation’s most popular tourism destinations—Washington D.C., Mount Vernon, Williamsburg, Monticello, plus more,” Lisa said. “And then when they learn about all that Stafford has to offer, including Ferry Farm, George Washington’s boyhood home, and our relative affordability, they are eager to schedule events here.”

Washington: Pierce County
Dean Burke, Travel Tacoma + Pierce County

Dean Burke joined Travel Tacoma + Pierce County in January as the president and CEO, taking the helm of a new organization formed by Travel Tacoma’s merger with the Tacoma South Sound Sports Commission. Burke had been serving as executive director of the Sports Commission for the previous five years.

A fierce advocate for Pierce County and its waterfront, Burke brings a background filled with event and economic development, destination marketing and coalition-building experience. At Tacoma South Sound Sports Commission, he guided local communities into a common sporting event strategy while bringing in events that contributed millions of dollars to the local economy. Part of his legacy there is Seventy48, a 48-hour, 70-mile, human-powered boat race he developed that saw wild success in its inaugural year last year.

A nationally competitive paddleboarder, Burke has spoken on the TEDx and other stages about Tacoma’s evolving relationship with its waterfront, parks, venues and destinations.

“Tacoma and Pierce County are almost entirely made up of mountain, city and sea,” Burke said. “You can have your feet in the salt water of Commencement Bay and be staring at the 14,410-foot summit of Mount Rainier only 42 miles away in a straight line. That’s an absolutely unique platform to build a destination on, and that’s what excites me.” SDM

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