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Volume 21 No. 39

People and Pop Culture

The St. Louis Cardinals named Melody Yount manager of player communications, Jennifer Long baseball developer and Javier Duren a baseball operations fellow.

The Class AA Southern League Biloxi Shuckers hired Hunter Reed as general manager. Reed was assistant general manager for the Class A Appalachian League Greeneville Astros.

The Class A Carolina League Winston-Salem Dash promoted Russell Parmele to senior director of business operations, Paul Stephens to director of ticket sales, Brittani Stewart to community relations manager, Kenny Lathan to director of corporate service and suite sales, Brittany Daley to group sales representative, LaToya Wilson to business development representative and Ayla Acosta to corporate partnership representative. The team hired Blair Hoke as director of corporate partnerships, Joe Weil as broadcaster and media relations manager, Ryan Nicholson as creative services assistant and Owen Wilson as box office manager.

WNBA Vice President of Referee Operations and Director of Officiating Programs Don Vaden departed his position after nearly 30 years with the NBA and WNBA.


Florida A&M University hired Keith Miles as deputy athletic director.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette hired Hollis Conway as assistant director for diversity, leadership and education.

The University of North Carolina Asheville hired David Jandrew as assistant athletic director for athletics advancement and major gifts. Jandrew was director of development for The First Tee of Greater Charlotte.

Overwatch League team New York Excelsior hired David Kopelman as head of sponsorship. Kopelman was vice president and group director of multimedia ad sales for Major League Baseball Advanced Media.

Americrown and International Speedway Corp. hired Mandy Mora as director of accounting.

Kansas Speedway promoted Joe Fowler to vice president of sales and marketing, Ryan Hogue to senior director of communications and consumer marketing, and Eric Peterson to director of corporate sales and marketing.


PCG SportsDesk hired Lainie Gentile and Jeff Owen as national directors of corporate partnerships. Gentile was partnership sales manager for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Minnesota Lynx and Target Center, and Owen was vice president of sales for Impression Sports & Entertainment.


Fox Sports hired Vernon Cheek as vice president of media relations. Cheek was director of publicity for CBS.

NBC Sports hired Damon Phillips as general manager for NBC Sports Washington. Phillips was vice president of technical product management for ESPN.

Time Inc. promoted Josh Oshinsky to executive producer of sports video for SI, SI Swimsuit and SI Kids, and vice president of programming for the new SI TV streaming service.

TruTV promoted Nancy McKenna to senior vice president of production.


IndyCar named Kyle Novak race director for the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Chip Ganassi Racing promoted Max Jones to managing director of the team’s NASCAR operation.

Multiteam Companies

Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment promoted Mike Zavodsky to chief revenue officer and Josh Pruss to senior vice president of global partnerships, and hired Dan Lefton as senior vice president of tickets, strategy and operations.

USA Diving hired Kevin Ankrom as high performance director. Ankrom was high performance director for US Lacrosse.

Sporting Goods and Apparel

Columbia Sportswear hired Christian Buss as director of investor relations. Buss was director of global apparel research for Credit Suisse.

Topps named David Leiner global general manager for its new global sports and entertainment division.

Sports Commissions and Tourism Boards
The Oregon Sports Authority hired Jim Etzel as executive director. Etzel was founder, chief executive officer and chairman for the Etzel Agency.

TeamSnap hired Sarah Berg as director of marketing communications. Berg was director of marketing for Sittercity.

FanDuel named Andy Giancamilli chief operating officer. Giancamilli will also continue in his role as chief financial officer.

People news

To have your personnel announcements included in the People section, please send information and photos to Brandon McClung at 120 W. Morehead St., Suite 310, Charlotte, NC 28202, or email them to Electronic photos must be a jpg or tiff file for Macintosh, 2.25 inches wide at 300 dpi. Color only, please. News items may also be sent via fax to (704) 973-1401. If you have questions, call (704) 973-1425.

In her role as senior director of content for the PGA Tour, Sloane Kelley is responsible for shaping much of the tour’s digital and social media presence. She joined the tour in 2013 from the boutique brand agency BFG Communications. At the tour, Kelley oversees a staff of some 30 employees charged with developing and operating digital content strategies as the tour increasingly leverages its social media channels, digital media, virtual reality and other emerging technologies to reach fans and gain exposure.

We want to think about how we can do more from a storytelling perspective. … We are getting to a place where some of the experiments within the augmented reality space will start hopefully seeing the light of day for our fans.

Photo by: PGA TOUR

On working in golf with no previous sports experience:
I had a background in the creative agency side before I came to the tour. … The tour was bringing its digital business in-house from Turner. There were a lot of exciting things happening within the digital department at the tour, and for me that is what I thrive on. It’s all about a good, creative challenge. Within the first couple of months I tried to meet with as many people as I could to immerse myself in all things PGA Tour. Obviously, it was a huge change coming from that agency background and diving into a sports league. What I continually heard about was that the tour was open to new thinking. Over time, I was able to bring to my group a style of a creative agency. It didn’t happen overnight. Slowly, we’ve made a lot of shifts in how we work together. We have much more of that agency vibe.

On the tour’s biggest digital initiatives in the last year: Where do I begin? There have been a lot of firsts for us. I know virtual reality is the exciting thing everyone is talking about. We executed live VR and 360 video at several tournaments starting with The Players Championship. The new thing is that we put live 360 view on the Twitter platform. It’s great to develop content for VR headsets, but when we work with Twitter to reach a mass audience, that is really important. We’ve had tremendous feedback from fans so we will be doing more of it. That was a big win for us. We launched a series of interesting immersive stories this year. It tends to be what people will spend a good bit of time with versus a quick video on Facebook or wherever. My personal favorite is the one we did on Jack Nicklaus. We spent many months working on content and making it truly unique.

On the changes in the use of digital and social content at the tour: There are so many more places where we have to reach our fans. Our fans are on platforms like Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube, but they are also moving to Amazon Echo and putting on VR headsets, and they are hungry for PGA Tour content in all of these different mediums. That’s a big change. It takes a lot of institutional knowledge. You can’t be afraid to experiment a little bit. No one has the secret sauce figured out yet. We have to be comfortable with the idea that it might not all work out of the gate.

On future content areas: Social platforms will continue to be a huge area of focus. On those platforms, the technology is always changing, so we are always changing how we produce things. Facebook Live has really become a very important medium for us. We definitely will keep that up. We are doing a lot more on the international front. That is a big area of focus for the tour and for my team.

                                                                                                                            — John Lombardo

From the CFP National Championship Game

At the Learfield reception Jan. 7 at Ventanas in Atlanta: Craig Silver, executive producer of CBS SEC College Football; John Mount, Coca-Cola VP of sports marketing; Vince Thompson, founder, Chairman, CEO of Melt; Learfield President and CEO Greg Brown; Fred Steck, Learfield VP of national sales, Southeast; and author/TV and radio personality Paul Finebaum.
Photo by: PWP STUDIO
NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell (right) joins 2018 College Football Hall of Fame electees Frank Beamer, Matt Stinchcomb and Mack Brown before the coin toss.
NACDA Executive Director Bob Vecchione and Alabama AD Greg Byrne attend the NACDA FBS Leadership Summit presented by Learfield on the Monday morning before the national championship game.
President Donald Trump talks with Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and his wife, Angela, during the game.
From Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the national championship, JMI Sports CEO and co-founder Erik Judson, Clemson Sports & Campus Marketing President Scott Morris, Georgia Bulldogs Sports Marketing COO Tom McDonald and JMI Sports President Tom Stultz.
Golfer Bubba Watson visits with some young fans on the SEC Nation set during the game.

Trump family takes in Monster Buck Off

Donald Trump Jr. and his children help Gage Gay celebrate winning the PBR’s season-opening Monster Buck Off at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 7. They are joined by Phil McAdams, president, VF Jeanswear; PBR CEO Sean Gleason and the Monster Energy models.
Remembering Ed Snider’s youth hockey legacy

Celebrating Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation Day in Philadelphia are Philadelphia Flyers legend Bernie Parent; Sheila Hess with the city of Philadelphia; Scott Tharp, president, Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation; Jonathan Quinones, coach and former student athlete, Snider Hockey; and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney during a ceremony at Wells Fargo Center on Jan. 6, which would have been Snider’s 85th birthday.
Celebrating USTA Lake Nona’s first year

The U.S. Tennis Association commemorated the one-year anniversary of the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona in Orlando on Jan. 4. From left: Martin Blackman, GM, USTA Player Development; U.S. Davis Cup captain Jim Courier; U.S. Fed Cup captain Kathy Rinaldi; ESPN’s Chris McKendry; USTA CEO and Executive Director Gordon Smith; USTA Chairman and President Katrina Adams; USTA National Campus CEO Kurt Kamperman; Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer; tennis icon Gigi Fernandez; and USTA National Campus GM Tim Cass.
Speedo at the bell

PVH and Speedo USA executives and Team Speedo USA athletes ring the New York Stock Exchange Opening Bell to open trading on Jan. 2. From left: PVH’s Ariane Romano; Team Speedo USA athletes Rebecca Meyers, Cullen Jones and Conor Dwyer; PVH’s John Hayes; Speedo USA President John Graham; PVH’s Mike Shaffer; NYSE’s James Byrne; Speedo USA’s Larry Meltzer; Team Speedo USA athlete Elizabeth Beisel; and PVH’s Susan Rosenfeld, Mark Fischer and Dana Perlman.
Photo by: NYSE

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A Bleacher Report staffer shoots a jumper on a basketball court that doubles as a screening room for staff.

Sports industry veterans can remember Bleacher Report as a scrappy digital media underdog, merely trying to earn notice among established industry heavyweights such as ESPN and Sports Illustrated. Now part of Turner Sports, Bleacher Report’s continued ascendancy, particularly among younger fans, can be seen in the company’s new 60,000-square-foot New York offices in midtown Manhattan’s Paramount Plaza.

The work of Design Republic, the new Bleacher Report office is part work space, event space, and play space, eschewing traditional norms of walled offices and endless cubicle farms for lots of open areas, gallery and mural spaces, and a basketball court that doubles as a screening room.

— Eric Fisher

TVs with games on are a constant fixture.
The game room features local art.
A mix of communal and individual work areas provide flexibility.
An entrance off the elevator gives a nightclub feel.
Some of the individual spaces for staffers.
The two-story space allows for an exposed internal staircase.
Table tennis tournaments often grow fierce.
“We’re a sports media brand, but we’re also a fun brand,” said Bleacher Report President Rory Brown.
A studio serves as one of the sets for Bleacher Report’s stable of video programming.
A more open design was critical after Bleacher Report outgrew its prior space near Columbus Circle.
Office decor was inspired by sports-themed movies such as “Bull Durham,” “Rocky” and “A League Of Their Own.”