What is the sports landscape and the potential in Savannah?
I would say the biggest difference is Sarasota has awesome facilities but here in Savannah, facilities are lacking. The ones we do have are aging, and I think the county and the city are already addressing that. We do have a beautiful convention center, which is one of the things that drew me here as well. I’ve always wanted to work with a convention center. Prior to me arriving, they were extremely successful. We’ve had a bridge run for 20-some years that we own and operate, with 4,000-plus runners. Our hockey classic is celebrating its 25th anniversary in January 2019, and it is truly one of the most unique and fun events in all of hockey. And the Rock and Roll Marathon has been here for eight years. We’re very close on a few things, and when those happen, we can make a big difference here.
What are some of the things on the horizon for Savannah that you can talk about?
We’re bidding on a couple of NAIA championships, lacrosse and football. Also, there are so many great groups I’ve worked with in the past, like Gameday USA, that I would love to have them come down here. We have a collegiate summer wooden bat baseball team, part of the Coastal Plains League, the Savannah Bananas, and these guys have taken the town by storm. They sold out 40-some plus straight games. Their name is getting out here, and people are traveling here just to go to a game, which is not easy to do because it’s hard to get tickets.
What type of person thrives in a sports tourism position?
I think first and foremost, you have to be passionate about sports. You also have to like people. If you’re going to be in this job, you’re going to be working with a variety of people, and it’s a cliché, but it really is all about relationships. And finally, I think you have to have a vision; there’s got to be something you want to work for. And you’ve got to be able to go after it. It’s got to be realistic; it’s got to be achievable; but it’s got to be aspirational at the same time.
This profession can be all-consuming, and you have young children and a strong commitment to your family. What are the secrets to achieving a work-life balance?
There are two types of people: Those who work to live and those who live to work. I’ve always been someone who works to live, but it wasn’t until I found this industry that I realized that if you find a job that you love, it never feels like work. I enjoy going to work, but at the same time I want to make sure I have plenty of time for my family, especially with two young girls. It is kind of a balancing act. I try to involve them as much as possible. They have traveled with me to places and taken advantage of a nice destination while I’m working at a conference. In our family, a big thing is just communicating ahead of time. It’s communication, setting correct expectations for my spouse and children, and as my kids get older they’re going to want to know more and I’ll be able to involve them more.