Ashleigh Bachert, CSEE, is executive director at Durham Sports Commission in Durham, North Carolina. As a 2019 Connect Sports Game Changer, she discusses her passion for sports tourism.
What I do: My job is to strategically place Durham in the sports tourism industry and recruit new business. I also support events in the community, helping to create the backdrop for an athlete’s lifelong memories.
How I got here: I’ve worked in collegiate athletics for seven years, but my experience at the University of Southern Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina showed me firsthand how athletics and communities can come together in a special way. My time in hotel sales, complemented by collegiate experience and personal experience playing collegiate softball, prepared me to run a sports commission and sell a destination to event owners.
Why I am a Game Changer: I have been able to use what is unique about our destination and create a brand that support events in a way others weren’t willing to tackle previously. For example, Bull City Gaming is a community’s brand for esports we established that is now the umbrella under which local esports events fall, showing participants the community’s buy-in to the sport.
Greatest career accomplishment: I still get a high remembering how I was able to lead the efforts to win the inaugural NCAA Women’s Basketball Pack the House grant and Pack the House award while at the University of Louisville. However, having the opportunity to come back to my hometown and lead the sports commission’s efforts while giving back to a community that gave so much to me growing up is equally humbling and amazing.
Big-Time Event: The DBAP Gaming Challenge was special as I had the opportunity to showcase an up and coming sport (esports) in a venue that typically host America’s greatest past time (baseball). It was cool to see the two mesh for the first time in the country and expose a new generation of athletes to the history of the Durham Bulls.
Impressive stats: The DSC has only been in operation since July 2016 and I was hired in January of 2017. Since accepting my role, DSC increased the number of events we work with from 13 in year one to 58 in year three and increased economic impact of sports from $13.5 million in year one to a projected $37.5 million in year three.
What’s next? We are working on launching a collegiate esports event with a few of our partners, potentially launching a Durham Hall of Fame event and continuing to work through the bidding process for regional and national championships as it relates to track and field and collegiate sports.
What I do outside of work: I’m a board member and serve on the executive committee for SportsNC and have recently been named to the board for Sports ETA. I’m on the Player Development Committee for Bull City Little League where I also coach a 9U softball team.