We have personnel news today from Major League Baseball on the MiLB side, the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (summer collegiate; Northwoods League) and the Holly Springs Salamanders (summer collegiate; Coastal Plain League).
Kurt Hunzeker, an important part of Minor League Baseball management both before and after the MLB takeover of the industry, has departed the sport again and is the new Executive Vice President of Commercial Operations for the National Lacrosse League (NLL).
“The National Lacrosse League is enjoying a post-pandemic rebirth on and off the field, as evidenced by our rise in attendance and revenue, media exposure and the expansion of partnership programs by our teams,” Commissioner Brett Frood said via press release. “Kurt has the perfect blend of creative and practical business experience to help us capitalize on this next vital phase of enterprise growth. His experience with disruptive properties like the XFL’s St. Louis BattleHawks, and with emerging businesses like MiLB, provide the right mix to help shape and grow the NLL business and promotional platforms like never before.”
“I look at the NLL as a property that has exactly what brands and consumers want—fast paced excitement, great athletes, a growing fan base, a solid ownership structure, and great media partners in ESPN and TSN—and I am looking forward to helping the League realize its business and brand potential beyond what exists today,” Hunzeker said via press release. “The industry has heard about the emerging growth of lacrosse as a sport, now it’s time for the NLL to push the narrative to an even wider audience, while continuing to engage and develop that stronger base of fans who have enjoyed the NLL for years.”
Hunzeker joins the NLL after overseeing all business-driving and revenue-generating functions of MLB’s restructured player development system and its 120 MiLB teams since 2021, including: national commercial sales and partnership activation, marketing and communications, content strategy and creation, media production and multimedia platforms, community relations and fan engagement, ticketing strategy, licensed consumer products, and ecommerce. He also authored the initial five-year business strategy and activation plan for MiLB’s new centralized business fully integrated within MLB, and generated the most commercial revenue in MiLB’s 122-year history in 2022.
We have some new faces in the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters front office, as Ken Day is the team’s new general manager. Day has professional sports experience with the San Diego Padres, the San Diego Chargers, and innumerable collegiate, community, and junior sporting events and programs.
Day is originally from Nekoosa, Wis.
Joining Day in the Rafters front office is Assistant General Manager Carter Hunter. Hunter has spent two prior seasons in the Northwoods League. His first season was in 2019 with the La Crosse Loggers as their Music and Entertainment Coordinator. The following summer Carter worked as the Sales Intern for the Green Bay Rockers, previously known as the Booyah.
Hunter is originally from Markesan, Wisconsin and got his bachelor’s degree in Sport Management at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
Returning to the Rafters: Tyler Miller. Miller will be in his third season with the Rafters, and will take on the Operations Manager position for the 2023 season.
The Holly Springs Salamanders announced the addition of Sara Killeen to their front office team, implementing an all-female staff for the upcoming 2023 baseball season.
General Manager Shari Massengill, who joined the Salamanders in 2022, will lead the all-female lineup, which includes Director of Corporate Partnerships Amanda Gillis and newly appointed Ticket Sales Manager Sara Killeen. Massengill has a wealth of experience in sports management, having previously served as the General Manager for Kinston when they were MiLB Single-A Affiliate of the Cleveland Guardians and Assistant General Manager for the Gwinnett Stripers, the Triple-A affiliate for the Atlanta Braves.
“I am thrilled to lead an all-female front office team for the Holly Springs Salamanders this season. Our organization is committed to promoting diversity and gender equality in the sports industry, and I am proud to work alongside Amanda and Sara to achieve that goal. As we start Women’s History Month, we hope to inspire more women to pursue careers in sports and to continue to break down barriers in this industry,” Massengill said via press release.
Director of Corporate Partnerships Amanda Gillis brings great experience to the Salamanders, having worked at organizations such as Ripken Baseball and the High Point Rockers. Her dynamic leadership and unwavering passion for baseball have been a welcome addition to the team since joining in 2021. As the overseer of all Sponsorship Sales and fulfillment for the Salamanders, Amanda’s expertise and enthusiasm are invaluable in driving the team’s success.
Sara Killeen is the newest addition to the team, having recently been appointed as the Salamanders’ Ticket Sales Manager. Killeen has over a decade of experience in sales and customer service, having previously worked for the Durham Bulls and the Wilson Tobs. In her new role, Killeen will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of ticket sales and customer relations for the team.
This announcement coincides with Women in Sports Day and Women’s History Month, making it an especially poignant moment in the league’s history. The Salamanders are proud to lead the way in promoting gender diversity and equity in the sports industry and look forward to an exciting season ahead.