What is your job title and responsibilities?
Sports Sales Manager – simply put, my job is to bring sporting events to Huntsville and Madison County that provide a positive economic impact. On a larger scale, it is finding, developing, and creating events that not only provide an economic impact but enable us to talk about all the great things happening in Huntsville – like being the #1 city to live in the United States thanks to our friends at U.S. News & World Report.
What was your first job in the industry?
My first job in sports came as the assistant sports information director at Troy University, where I was responsible for promoting the volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, softball, and men’s and women’s golf teams.
What aspect of your job do you like most?
I love event day. Seeing everyone buzzing around the venues as the culmination of the hard work in putting together an event is the most enjoyable aspect of this job.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I was going to be the next Chris Berman on ESPN or Vin Scully as a play-by-play person. I’ve been fortunate to use those muscles every now and then, but am glad that my career has taken a different path.
How did you get into this line of work?
After working in college athletics for 12 years, my career path diverted to sports tourism and facility management with the City of Jacksonville. In my time at Jacksonville University, we built tourism-boosting events in conjunction with the city and were able to take that to a new level.
Do you belong to any civic or volunteer organizations?
With my son being a teenager, I’m big on volunteering with the booster club at the school to support him and his classmates, as well as giving back to the community.
What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career?
I’ve been fortunate to do some significant events throughout my career, but two stand out the most. Bringing the USA Curling national championship to the south for the first time was a lot of fun, and the event’s attendance exceeded our expectations for a winter sport in Florida. The other is the event we’re completing now, bringing a Division I college football game to Madison at our minor league baseball park – Toyota Field.
How do you manage your daily tasks?
I have a TODAY folder that is my focus each day – it has my schedule, what I need to do to move my projects forward, and my list of people I need to call. Of course, things will pop up that throw that plan off, but at the end of the day, I’ll take five minutes before I leave the office to have the game plan ready for the next day.
How do you stay on top of sports tourism industry trends?
We never stop learning. I’m always looking at what other cities and destinations are doing to see if we can do something similar in our area. As our destination continues to grow and mature, we are looking at our peer group to see where we can improve and how we can make the experience better.
How are you developing key partnerships in the marketplace?
One of our key focuses right now is building partnerships – we are being very aggressive in bringing people to Huntsville to showcase the city and our venues. On any given day, I’m juggling 10 to 15 events we are preparing to host or working to bring to the city.
Who was your greatest mentor?
Four people come to mind that has had a significant impact on me and my career. My Dad is first as he taught me the rewards of hard work and the positive effect of having a strong work ethic. Second would be my first boss in college, Mike Galloway. He showed a young kid who thought he knew everything about the ropes in the sports world and life with a tremendous amount of patience as I was trying to find myself. The third was the athletic director at Jacksonville State and one of my close friends now, Joe Davidson. Last but certainly not least would be Alan Verlander – we’ve known each other for more than 20 years, worked together for 13 years, and have helped me more than I can ever thank him professionally.
What are the top 3 things you’d want to pass on as advice to a young, up-and-coming industry professional?
Build genuine relationships – you never know who you meet today might be a partner on a project tomorrow. Don’t burn bridges – the sports world is small, and your reputation is the great currency in this industry. Undersell and over-deliver – it’s old and simple, but it is true.
What are you most passionate about, and how did you get started?
I absolutely LOVE golf – got started as a kid and have made so many friendships and relationships through the game that make it love even more. And now, I get to pass it on to my son, who is on the high school golf team as an eighth grader.