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Personnel news: Columbia Fireflies

Columbia FirefliesWe have some personnel news from the Columbia Fireflies (Low-A East), where Brad Shank replaces John Katz as team president.

Shank ha been elevated from Executive Vice President to President and Kevin Duplaga has joined the team as its first Chief Revenue Officer. Also, Morgan Hunter has been promoted to Head Groundskeeper and Nick Spano has been promoted to Director of Ticket Sales.

Shank replaces team President John Katz, who managed the Fireflies for their first six years in Columbia. Katz remains a minority owner in the Fireflies but is now working in the United Kingdom, running a National League soccer team.

Shank has been with the Columbia Fireflies since the team came to Columbia in 2016. Prior to that, the Indiana native worked as the Vice President of Ticket Sales and Director of Group Sales for the Fort Wayne TinCaps (Low-A; Midwest League). Shank had been with the TinCaps’ predecessor, the Fort Wayne Wizards, since 2003.

“Brad has been a key member of our organization for over 15 years,” said Jason Freier, Managing Owner of the Fireflies, via press release. “We saw the tremendous talent Brad possessed and how he helped elevate the TinCaps to the top of our industry. Brad has become a big part of the community here in Columbia and taking the reins of Fireflies is the natural next step.”

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to have the opportunity to lead the Fireflies and this extremely talented staff,” said Shank.“Columbia has become home for my wife Kelly, our son Callan and me. The opportunities here, especially with all of the progress around us at BullStreet, are tremendous.”

NBA veteran Kevin Duplaga will be joining Shank on the leadership team. Duplaga spent the last 16 years in the NBA, most recently as the Director of Ticket Sales for the Miami Heat. Under Duplaga’s leadership the Heat became one of the NBA’s best ingroup and season ticket sales and were regularly near the top of the NBA in attendance. Duplaga spent fourteen years with the Heat and, prior to that, four seasons with the Portland Trailblazers. He, like Shank, got his start in the sports business with the Fort Wayne Wizards minor league baseball team, where the two worked together.

Hunter joined the Fireflies prior to the 2021 season as the Assistant Groundskeeper. Her promotion makes her the third female Head Groundskeeper in Minor League Baseball, following Leah Withrow, who became the Reno Aces Head Groundskeeper in 2020, and Carolina Beauchamp, who joined the Delmarva Shorebirds in June of 2019.

“I’m grateful to the Fireflies’ for trusting me with this opportunity,” Hunter said. “It’s also been great to hear from everyone inthe turf industry who has reached out with congratulations and advice.”

Finally, Nick Spano has been promoted from a Group Sales Executive to the Director of Ticket Sales. Spano has been with the Columbia Fireflies since he graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2017.

“Nick has shown an outstanding work ethic and leadership abilities from day one,” said Shank. “It has been a pleasure watching Nick progress from an intern with the team, to a sales leader and now into the role of managing our ticket sales department. He has a bright future with the Fireflies.”

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