Linda Shetina Logan
Executive Director, Greater Columbus Sports Commission
Linda Shetina Logan, known as a “mama bear” in the sports tourism industry, admits she’s never been a great athlete, but calls herself a mental jock. “I graduated from high school in 1973, the year of Title IX, and we didn’t have sports growing up,” she says. But her enthusiasm for athletics began at age 10, when she developed a lifelong love of the Cleveland Indians. She spent her free time keeping score for teams throughout school and early in her career. “I loved the passion of being a fan and spectator.” She had no idea both would eventually pave the way to her dream job.
The humble Logan has been a pioneer in the industry, promoting Columbus as a tourism destination for 18 years and leading the city’s sports commission she founded for the past 13 years. “I was one of the early females in the sports tourism industry, but not the first,” says Logan, who sat on the board of the National Association of Sports Commissions for eight years, serving as chair for one year. “Those founding women made time for me when I was getting started, and I will always appreciate that.”
Looking at the current state of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission—now with 12 full-time staffers, up from Logan flying solo in 2002—you’ll see a long list of accomplishments. Columbus has hosted the NHL All-Star Celebration and USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championship, and will host NCAA Women’s Final Four in 2018. The commission has bid on and brought in more than 350 new sporting events to Columbus, generating an estimated $400 million in visitor spending. “We’re a great sports destination,” she says. “I used to talk about all these sports cities I admired—and now I feel like we’ve become one.”
Mentors: “Pam Gerrig-Bland (formerly of County of Palm Beach), Suzanne Stewart of Tulsa and Susan Blackwood of San Antonio Sports Foundation come to mind. Then there’s Phyllis Bailey, former basketball coach and first female administrator in the Ohio State department of athletics. I didn’t know her in her heyday, but she was someone who led by example. She made things easier for us.”
On the next generation: “I love the confidence of the girls coming up now. They have a seat at the table and they know they deserve it. [Previous generations] may have cowered or not felt like they belonged. I’m proud they don’t feel that way.”