Byron Hicks is events manager at USA Ultimate. As a 2017 Connect Sports Game Changer, Hicks discusses his passion for sports tourism.
What I do: I organize and run USA Ultimate events from start to finish: meeting with cities, CVBs and sports commissions interested in hosting events; building relationships with local groups and evaluating their suitability as hosts; and organizing and running events.
How I got here: I was active in the sport of ultimate for 25 years—as a player and longtime volunteer for USA Ultimate—before coming to work at headquarters. When the opportunity to work with the national governing body presented itself, it was impossible to pass up.
Why I am a game changer: After meeting Nick Povalitis at the Illinois Sports Huddle in 2013, we committed to hosting an event in Rockford, Illinois. Our Division III College Championships were held there in 2015, the first major ultimate event the city had seen. Following that success, we brought our National Championships, USA Ultimate’s biggest event, to the city last fall, where we saw the highest event attendance in our organization’s history.
My greatest career accomplishment: I was instrumental in the development of USA Ultimate’s beach competition division. The first Beach Championships were held in 2015, and the division has seen steady growth since that time.
Impressive stats: Over the last couple years, we have made a concerted effort to standardize USA Ultimate’s event bid process. We are now much more actively engaged with CVBs and local sports organizations, and attracting quality bids on a timeline that allows us and local organizing committees to collaborate on and produce great events.
What I’m working on: Next year, our sport will celebrate its 50th anniversary. We’re excited to be hosting that celebration alongside our National Championships in San Diego next fall. We’ll also continue expanding our beach division, both at the national and international levels, including another regional event in the Gulf Coast area.
What I do outside of work: I serve on the NASC mentor committee and the World Flying Disc Federation beach committee. Outside of work, I spend time with my kids and like to cycle.