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Pelicans, Blue Rocks nab Carolina League awards

Carolina League logoThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans and Wilmington Blue Rocks swept the 2014 Carolina League year-end awards, with the Pelicans winning three and the Blue Rocks receiving the Matt Minker Community Service Award.

The Pelicans won the Complete Franchise Award and the Marketing and Promotional Award. Pelicans Senior Director of Community Development Jen Borowski was named the Female Executive of the Year.

The League awards the Complete Franchise Award to a “complete” baseball franchise that has demonstrated franchise stability and significant contributions to its community and the League. As the winner from the Carolina League, the Pelicans are now nominated for the John H. Johnson President’s Award, which is presented at the Winter Meetings.

The Pelicans reached franchise highs in ticket sales, online ticket sales, per game attendance and sellouts. Giving back to the community continues to be a focal point for the team as well, which expanded its Play It Forward Community Initiative this past season. The club surpassed its 2013 total with over $465,000 in monies and man-hours from donations, fundraising, and community service. Pelicans staff members are active in over 20 different community service programs.

The Marketing and Promotional Award goes to the club that demonstrates outstanding and creative marketing and promotional efforts within its community, its ballpark (including non-game day events), in media and other promotional materials. As the winner, the Pelicans are the league’s nominee for the Larry MacPhail Award.

The Pelicans had three nominations for Minor League Baseball’s annual Golden Bobblehead Award and the Promotion of the Month Winner for April with Get Travoltafied Night. The team was also featured on CBS Sports Network’s Minor League Game of the Week in a nationally televised game on July 3rd in a win over Winston-Salem. The season saw five nationally recognized promotions and/or events including: We Want [Russell] Wilson, Get Travoltafied Night, Prostate Cancer Awareness Night, #ReallyMark? #MiLB (Twitter campaign that went across MiLB, defending the industry against comments made by NCAA President Mark Emmert), and a viral video of Field Manager Joe Mikulik’s ejection.

Borowski won the Female Executive of the Year, which is awarded to a woman who has made outstanding contributions to her club, the league, or to baseball. As the winner, she is now also a nominee for the Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year Award.

Borowski began her career with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans as in intern in 2009.  After two seasons of working as a front office intern, Jen was given the opportunity to serve as Director of Promotions for the Pelicans. This past season she was promoted to Senior Director of Community Development, and the Pelicans have benefited with remarkable achievements in promotions and community engagement. Borowski has implemented the Pelicans Newsletter, growing the list to over 15,000 fans and was a pivotal leader in the promotional success of the 2014 campaign.

In a two-year period, under Borowski’s leadership, the Pelicans have raised over $850,000 in donations, community givebacks, volunteer time and in-kind services and made 125 community appearances during the 2014 season.

Borowski’s career highlights include serving as the Director of Promotions for the Texas Rangers Exhibition Game in 2011, working both Regionals and Super Regionals for NCAA Baseball Games, winning 2011 Pelicans Front Office Employee of the Year, and leading two presentations at the MiLB Promotional Seminar over the last two years.

The Matt Minker Community Service Award goes to the club that best demonstrates an outstanding, ongoing commitment to charitable service, support, and leadership within its community. The award is named after the Blue Rocks’ founder, who owned the team until his death in 2007. Minker, whose construction company also built Frawley Stadium, is still the team’s honorary president. It is the first year the title has been awarded to an entire organization, after going to individual players since its incarnation in 2009.

“Matt Minker was instrumental in laying the foundation for the Blue Rocks and for the franchise’s success in the years to follow,” said Blue Rocks general manager Chris Kemple.  “It is fitting and appropriate that this honor bears his name and we are absolutely privileged to be the first organizational recipient.”

The Blue Rocks won the award thanks in large part to their numerous school programs, charitable endeavors and hospital visits.

As an organization the Blue Rocks work with area schools to promote academic achievement (Rocky’s Reading Challenge), citizenship (Outstanding Student Program), and active lifestyles (Titus Sports Champions Physical Health Program). The team helped raise tens of thousands of dollars for good causes through partnerships with Habitat For Humanity, Boys & Girls Clubs of DE, Fight for the Gold, Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition and many other charities in 2014. It also contributed school supplies to the Red Clay School Consolidated School District during the Remax Stuff the Bus Campaign and donated thousands of tickets to other worthy community programs.  Several times each season the team also visited the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital For Children, brightening the spirits of that facility’s patients and their families.

“We could not accomplish much of what we do without the partnership and cooperation of our players and the Kansas City Royals organization,” said Blue Rocks director of community affairs Kevin P. Linton. “Their commitment to community fits perfectly with the vision that Matt Minker set forth for the Blue Rocks franchise and that we continue to follow to this day.”

Community service is so engrained within the organization that three of the five times the award was presented to individual players it went to Blue Rocks.  Everett Teaford was the inaugural winner in 2009 and was followed by Tim Melville in 2011 and Whit Merrifield in 2012.

As the Carolina League’s recipient of the Matt Minker Award, the Blue Rocks received the eight-team league’s automatic nomination for the John Henry Moss Community Service Award, given out by Minor League Baseball at its annual national convention, to be held this December in San Diego.

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