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Volume 21 No. 39
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Tera Black, Charlotte Checkers

Photo by: BEN CARTER
W
hen Megan Harman joined the Charlotte Checkers as an intern five years ago, she wasn’t sure what to expect from her new boss, Tera Black.

Tera Black
CHARLOTTE CHECKERS,
CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
“Knowing that she was the only female COO in the entire American Hockey League, that in itself was kind of intimidating,” Harman said. “I didn’t expect her to be so friendly and so open. She’s the ultimate woman. She’s a great motherly figure; she’s a great colleague to look up to.”

Black channels her experience as a mom to two daughters into marketing hockey to families in a market more accustomed to checkered flags than body checks. Family-friendly scheduling was one of the reasons Black and the Checkers took the bold step of moving the team back to its original home, the 61-year-old Bojangles’ Coliseum, after a decade as the third tenant in line for dates at Time Warner Cable Arena.

“We were playing on a lot of Mondays, Halloween at noon, just sort of counterintuitive to good business,” Black said. “Our first year back [at the coliseum], we had 26 weekend dates.”

In addition to negotiating an additional $4 million in public money to modernize the arena, Black led the building overhaul process and the team’s move into the venue, doing so in 90 days between seasons. For that work and for the work in the season that followed, Black was named the AHL’s James C. Hendy Memorial Award winner as the league’s outstanding executive for the 2015-16 season — becoming the first woman to earn the honor since it was first awarded following the 1961-62 season.

But Black is far from done. She’s now turning some of her attention to the team’s burgeoning creative-services business. For the past two years, the team has been providing full-service creative work to both team sponsors and unaffiliated properties like Richard Childress Racing and the Joey Logano Foundation. By the end of the year, Black plans to launch an entirely independent marketing banner, leveraging the team’s resources to create a new revenue stream.

“I have phenomenal creative staff, and now we can keep them here because they have unlimited opportunities to do creative work outside of just hockey.”

— Alex Silverman

  • An attribute I look for when hiring: A well-rounded individual with a strong character and lots of charisma.
  • A networking tip I’ve learned: A great way to start a conversation is with a compliment.
  • Biggest challenge I face working in sports: Maintaining relevance in a market with many exciting sports and entertainment options.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Surround myself with great people, from the people I work for to the people who work for me. Good people are the key to achieving success at every level.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Any member of the U.S. Olympic women's gymnastics team. Talk about a lifelong commitment to one sport. They are dripping with positive energy and will contribute to an entire generation of little girls getting out and participating in sports of all types. (I’d also really like to meet their parents.)
  • Most memorable sporting event attended: Honestly, the most exciting sporting events I go to are my kids’ games/meets. Seeing them put all of their effort into something inspires a tremendous amount of pride.
  • Causes supported: I am extraordinarily passionate about animals and animal welfare. I am a regular volunteer at the Humane Society of Charlotte and will support as many local animal shelters as possible. Additionally, the Checkers Charitable Foundation allows me to be active with many local nonprofits, most of which are related to children and child-related cancers.