Some more postseason news: Big Top Baseball, the parent organization of the Madison Mallards, Wisconsin Rapids Rafters, Kenosha Kingfish and Green Bay Bullfrogs, announced the winners of their organizational awards for 2014.
Those receiving recognition for their outstanding performances and work ethic in the 2014 season: John Fanta (Wisconsin Rapids Rafters), Derek McCarty (Green Bay Bullfrogs) and Nick Heyerdahl (Kenosha Kingfish).
Big Top Baseball, which was recently awarded Organization of the Year by Ballpark Digest, employs over 30 full-time employees and annually hires over 50 interns and 500 part-time employees. Big Top Baseball has become a destination for young people looking to pursue a career in sports.
Executive of the Year – John Fanta
John Fanta, General Manager of the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters, received the Executive of the Year award for Big Top Baseball. This award is given to the manager who most exemplifies the core values of the organization. “It was a great season in Wisconsin Rapids and I thank my staff for their hard work and the fans for all of their support,” Fanta said.
In his first season as GM and fifth overall season with Big Top Baseball, the Rafters drew 47,631 fans, which was the second highest overall attendance in the team’s history and ranked 17th-best among all summer collegiate teams in the country. “It has been a pleasure working with the entire Big Top Baseball organization and all of the great people that work tirelessly to bring Northwoods League baseball to our respective communities. I am humbled to receive this award,” said Fanta. He was previously the Assistant General Manager of the Rafters for four years.
Before joining the Rafters, Fanta spent two summers as an intern for the La Crosse Loggers, overseeing a ticket sales operation that annually ranks second in the nation for summer collegiate baseball.
Fanta received his bachelor’s degree in Sport Management and Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse in 2009. He is originally from Viroqua, Wisconsin and currently resides in Wisconsin Rapids.
Rookie of the Year – Derek McCarty
Derek McCarty, Corporate Account Manager for the Green Bay Bullfrogs, received the Rookie of the Year award for Big Top Baseball. This award is given to the top performing individual in their first season with the organization. “It means a lot to me to win this award,” said McCarty. “There were a lot of first-year people in the organization this past season and everyone that is still with the organization today has a case as to why they could have won Rookie of the Year.”
McCarty did an exceptional job in his first year with the Bullfrogs, working with local businesses to create business development and client and employee entertainment solutions. He played a huge role in the Bullfrogs successful first season under Big Top Baseball. “BTB is a great organization to work for,” McCarty added. “The ownership has put me on a path to achieve my career goals by providing training, opportunities, and increased responsibilities.”
McCarty graduated from St. Norbert College where he played football and earned a degree in Communications and Media Studies. After graduating, McCarty accepted a job as an account executive for the Cincinnati Cyclones minor league hockey team of the ECHL. After a year there he then accepted a job as an Account Executive with Legends Sales and Marketing at the University of Nevada in Reno. McCarty resides in Green Bay, Wisconsin and is originally from Rapid River, Michigan.
“True Grit” Award – Nick Heyerdahl
Nick Heyerdahl, Assistant General Manager of the Kenosha Kingfish received the Big Top Baseball “Grit” Award. This unique award is given to the individual that has overcome obstacles with perseverance and resilience in order to achieve a goal. “I’m honored to receive this award,” said Heyerdahl. “Everyone within the Big Top Baseball organization works exceptionally hard and all of our employees are deserving of this tremendous accolade. I’m thankful for the recognition and it’s a pleasure to work with the individuals within this organization every day.”
In 2013, Heyerdahl spent six months in the Kingfish office by himself until the rest of the staff was appointed. He served as the caretaker of baseball in Kenosha going out and networking within the community, spreading the word of Kingfish Baseball.
“Being a part of Big Top Baseball is truly special,” said Heyerdahl. “This is a fantastic organization to work for and I thank Steve, Vern, and Conor for the opportunity to grow within Big Top Baseball. From my start as an intern in 2012 to my current position in Kenosha, it has been a great experience and I couldn’t ask for a better team to work with.”
Heyerdahl graduated from UW-Whitewater in 2012 with a bachelors degree in Communication with an emphasis in Organizational Communication and a minor in Marketing. Prior to starting in Kenosha, Heyerdahl completed an Event Management Internship with the Mallards in the summer of 2012. He resides in Kenosha and is originally from Janesville, Wisconsin.