An Interview with Don DeDonatis, CEO, USSSA | Sports Destination Management

An Interview with Don DeDonatis, CEO, USSSA



Don DeDonatis, Chairman of the board/CEO
Don DeDonatis, Chairman of the board/CEO

Years in industry
34 Years Total
USSSA Area Director 1978-1983
USSSA Michigan State Director 1983-1998
Exec. VP Great Lakes Division 1988-1998
USSSA Asst. Executive Director 1995-1998
USSSA National President 1995-1997
Chairman of the Board/CEO 1997-Current

Years in current position: 15

What is the mission of your organization?
USSSA's mission is to be the most visibly recognized, technologically advanced and professionally represented sports organization in the world. We achieve this success by an uncompromising commitment to:

  • Meeting the needs of the teams, coaches, sponsors, park owners and fans.

  • Striving to promote strong partnerships with everyone involved in the USSSA family.

  • Creating an organizational attitude that team/player/sponsor/fan satisfaction is everything.

  • Establishing that our Directors and Officials serve as Ambassadors of USSSA.

  • Promoting an environment where recognition, innovation, and communication are encouraged and rewarded.

  • Providing the highest quality of League and Tournament play available for all level of play.

  • Promoting an arena where diversity of thought and expression are encouraged and cooperatively applied to better accomplish our mission.

Nationally, how many participants do you have?
3.7 million participants

How many events are held each year?
30,000 plus

In what regions/locations are they held?
Nationwide, Canada & Puerto Rico

As an organization, what do you look for in a location?

  • Easy to travel to (i.e) proximity to local airports

  • Sufficient/affordable housing for our membership

  • Quality and strength of our local USSSA staff

  • Involvement by local CVBs and local sponsorship participation

  • Suitable facilities and the number of quality fields

From an event management standpoint, what is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Ensuring that USSSA provides the highest standard of play to each and every member of USSSA from the smallest local event to our highest levels. This type of approach insures that USSSA will grow and prosper in the coming years.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Working with the many people across the country who have helped make USSSA what it has become today. It's also very rewarding to provide quality events for the youth participants USSSA registers. The kids are growing up with USSSA and continue to play into their adult lives.

What is your biggest challenge in organizing your organization's events?
Believe it or not, it's been quite a challenge to find locations that can meet our standards regarding tournament play and have suitable facilities to handle all of the teams that are now playing in our events and trying to remain innovative and flexible in an ever changing market.

Please describe how you feel your knowledge, skills and experience have contributed to the success of the sports events in which you are involved.
Well, it is always an advantage when you have that experience on your side as you can lean heavily on your prior experience and the skills you have developed over the years. I think the most important thing, however, is that you continue to build on lessons. I am constantly learning. The key is to remain flexible and maintain the ability to adjust to the current situation. Things like the economy, for instance, present quite a challenge. We as an organization have to remain flexible and retain the ability to adjust quickly to the needs of our membership. We have been very successful in that regard. We need to stay focused on the tasks at hand and listen to what our members-or customers, if you will-are telling us. It's something I have learned over the years.