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Personnel News: Lake Elsinore, Biloxi, Washington

Lake Elsinore Storm

We have personnel news to report from the Lake Elsinore Storm (High A; California League), Biloxi Shuckers (Class AA; Southern League), and the parent company of the Washington Wild Things (independent; Frontier League). 

In Lake Elsinore, the Storm has named Ken Fogel as its new Vice President. Prior to joining the Storm, Fogel, a 24-year veteran of Minor League Baseball, had spent the previous five years in Charleston, W.V. with the West Virginia Power (Low A; Sally League) as the Executive Vice President.

Before arriving in West Virginia, Fogel served five years as the Assistant General Manager for the Akron Aeros (Class AA; Eastern League), now known as the RubberDucks. He will represent Storm Baseball as the team’s Vice President.

“It’s incredibly humbling to be able to add someone with the talent and experience of Ken Fogel this close to the season to help the Storm as we launch our 2019 season,” said Storm General Managaer, Raj Narayanan. “Ken brings a unique set of skills to the game along with considerable experience in several areas and I believe we’ll see dividends and return on that very quickly. I’m excited to be able to work with him and help make our fan experience even better this year.”

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Fogel, along with his wife, Kim, son, Craig, and cat, Paka, is excited to return to his West Coast roots and looks forward to further developing the Lake Elsinore Storm.

“The Storm are a well respected and extremely successful operation and I am humbled to be a part of their continued success,” Fogel said. “I appreciate the opportunity that Raj has given me by bringing me back to California.”

In Biloxi, the Shuckers have announced new titles for three existing staff members and welcome the addition of nine new names to the front office for the 2019 season.

Ricky Cunningham joins the Shuckers as the new Director of Sales, bringing 25 years of sales experience to Biloxi. A native of Moss Point, MS, Cunningham graduated from Mississippi State University with a BS in Education.

In a new role for 2019, Allan Lusk will serve as the Director of Ticket Operations after working as the team’s Box Office Coordinator. A graduate of East Carolina University, Lusk began his career in minor league baseball during the 2011 season with the Kinston Indians (High A; Carolina League). He also worked in Bowling Green and Corpus Christi prior to joining the Shuckers in 2014.

Also joining the Shuckers sales team in 2019 is Ticket Sales Executive, Kory DuMond, and Box Office Coordinator, Racheal Prosise. Kory has previous experience in baseball, working for the Pittsburgh Pirates in Corporate Sales and Service. He most recently worked in Team Sales and New Business Development for Pure Hockey and has also worked for the Columbus Blue Jackets in Inside Sales. 2019 will be Racheal’s first season working in Minor League Baseball following her graduation from the University of Oklahoma. She previously spent time at ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as a Field Operations Intern.

Kelsey Thompson arrives in Biloxi as the new Community Relations Manager, beginning her eighth season in professional baseball. She spent 2012-2017 with the Greeneville Astros (Rookie; Appalachian League) as a promotions intern, Sales Account Executive, and Assistant General Manager before working as the Senior Manager of Premium Sales and Services for the Corpus Christi Hooks (Class AA; Texas League) for the 2018 season.

Jourdan Natale begins her fourth season with the Shuckers in a new position as Promotions Manager. She graduated from MGCCC with an Associate of Arts Degree and is originally from Gulfport, Mississippi. An addition to the promotions team, Katy Nowak joins the Shuckers as a Promotions Trainee. While working in Biloxi, Katy is currently finishing a master’s degree in Sport Management from Jacksonville State University.

A familiar face in Biloxi, Kennedy Helms rejoins the Shuckers in 2019 as the Stadium Operations Manager. Helms spent three seasons in Biloxi as a Ticket Sales Executive prior to a brief stint away from the club in 2018.

Dani Polen assumes the role of Marketing Manager, transitioning into her new position after serving as a Marketing and Administrative Assistant for the Shuckers in 2018 and Sales and Marketing Coordinator in 2017. Dani graduated from the University of Mississippi with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing and Minor of Arts in Graphic Design in 2009, and went on to pursue and receive a Master of Business Administration in 2011.

Also new to the media department is Production Manager Seamus Grady, who most recently worked with the Charleston Battery of the United Soccer League as Director of Video Operations. Grady attended the College of Charleston where he majored in Communications.

Other additions to the media relations and marketing team are Andrew Chapman and Stephanie Carr. Andrew enters his first season with the Shuckers as a Broadcasting and Media Relations Assistant. He began his professional baseball career in 2018 in a similar role with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, following graduation from Arizona State University. Stephanie joins the Shuckers as a Creative Services Assistant after recently graduating from the University of Denver with a degree in Art and Media Studies. While at DU, she worked with the Creative Services and broadcast teams for DU athletics.

In Washington, Sports Facility, LLC–parent company of the Wild Things; Washington County Family Entertainment, which promotes non-baseball events at the team’s Wild Things Park, and Homeplate Concessions, which operates concessions and catering at Wild Things Park–has announced four promotions within its organization.

Steven Zavacky has been named Executive Director of Sports Facility, LLC, President of Washington County Family Entertainment and President of Homeplate Concessions.

Zavacky, who resides in Canonsburg, PA, has over 20 years experience in the sports and entertainment industry. He has been with the Wild Things organization since 2002 when the park opened under the name of Falconi Field. His responsibilities have included Facility management, food and beverage operations, sales, and special events. In 2015 Zavacky was named Washington Wild Things General Manager and he was named Vice President in 2018. Additionally, he has served on the Frontier League Board of Directors since 2017.

Prior to joining the Wild Things, Zavacky was Director of Parks and Recreation for the Borough of Bangor (PA).

Tony Buccilli, who has been with the organization for seven years, has been promoted to President and General Manager of Washington Frontier League Baseball and Vice President of Washington County Family Entertainment.

The Murrysville, PA native attended Wingate University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania where he completed his undergraduate work in Pharmacy and earned a Master’s Degree in Sports Management. Buccilli joined the Wild Things in 2012 but left following the season to accept a position with the Texas Rangers Baseball Operations Department for the 2014 season. He returned to the Wild Things and focused on player procurement.

Buccilli was named Assistant General Manager in 2017. In addition to his work with the Wild Things, Buccilli serves on the board of directors for Washington Youth Baseball.

JJ Heider, who has been the controller at Wild Things Park since 2012, was promoted to Vice President of Sports Facility, LLC. Prior to working for the Wild Things, the Washington native spent 17 years in the banking industry, working in the accounting department of Parkvale Bank.

Heider, who attended Clemson University and graduated from Waynesburg College, earned a B.S. in Business Administration. He will continue to oversee the accounting operations at the facility and he will collaborate in other departments, offering his expertise.

Christine Blaine, who worked with the team’s ownership group starting in 2001 while the park was under construction, was named Vice President for Washington Frontier League Baseball and Washington County Family Entertainment. Blaine who initially handled all communications efforts for the organization has most recently assumed a more active role in cultivating corporate relationships for the organization.

A native of Butler, PA, Blaine has been involved with several community organizations, including the United Way of Washington County, the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, Washington County Tourism Promotion Agency (past president) Business and Professional Women (past president/district director), Association of American University Women, The Brownson House, Big Brothers and Big Sisters. She was also a finalist in the Washington County Athena Awards.

Prior to working for the Wild Things, Blaine was the Director of Marketing & Communications for The Meadows Racetrack, and she was an educator in Erie County. She holds an A.B. from Grove City College, an M.Ed. from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. from Duquesne University.

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