2019 Own the Woods benefitting the MS Center at Augusta University

Sports Strategies partnered with the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Augusta University to create and host “Own the Woods,” a multi-sport festival and expo that served as a promotional platform and benefit for the medical institution. The event was held September 14, 2019 at Blanchard Woods Park in Evans, Georgia. The event featured a 3-hour mountain bike race and 5-mile trail race, as well as interactive expo with food, climbing wall, and lifestyle activities vendors.

The evening before Own the Woods, cycling advocacy organization People for Bikes sponsored DRAFT, a meetup for people to enjoy beer, while talking bikes and biz, during Own the Woods packet pickup. The event was graciously hosted by the Augusta Sports Council at Augusta and Co.

Georgia's Freshwater Coast

We were honored to make a presentation on the benefits of sports tourism to Leadership Lincoln, Georgia. The session was held at Elijah State Park along the shores of Clark’s Hill Lake. The session, “Play Lincoln County”, was hosted by the Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce, and it offered an immersive education for local stakeholders into the myriad natural assets offered throughout the county, which is advertised as “Georgia’s Freshwater Coast.” Enjoyed the day in your beautiful hometown!

2019 USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships

Nothing beats working an event in your backyard, especially when it’s a bike race. I got my start in sports when a friend and I hosted a small bike race at Fort Gordon Augusta in 1992, and it was an honor to keep the tradition going at the 2019 USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships in Augusta May 10-12, 2019.

Since the modest beginnings of our small bike race, Augusta has played host to five USA Cycling National Championships, and Collegiate Nats were the latest in the rich history. The event brought college teams from across the United States to compete in the three-day, four disciplines event: Team Time Trial (TTT), Individual Time Trial (ITT), Road Race, and Criterium. The road race and time trials were held on a legendary circuit at Fort Gordon, and the criterium was held in historic Downtown Augusta.

Race Director Shawn Brett of USA Cycling organized a great race, and the Augusta Sports Council’s local support was excellent. The weather even cooperated to some degree, although the heat and humidity took its toll on riders not used to pedaling through a warm bath.

 This being Georgia, it had to rain and, of course, it held off until the final day, which meant the criteriums had more than the typical carnage. The rain did cease for the podium presentations, but as the riders were packing up to leave, and we began to breakdown the venue, the bottom fell out. It was a soggy end for us, but as long as the riders left happy, we knew we’d done our job.

2019 NASC Symposium in Knoxville

I had the opportunity to attend the NASC Symposium in Knoxville May 6-9, 2019. I always look forward to this show as it provides great education, networking, and a chance to catch up with industry peers and friends. It didn’t hurt that it was in the southeast. The drive over through the mountains of North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee was beautiful and relatively quick. I do my share of flying, so it was nice to take a little drive for this road trip.

I hadn’t been to Knoxville since 1984. It’s a great southern town and has a lot to offer. My in-laws are rabid Vols fans so the photos from the opening gathering at Neyland Stadium generated a lot of envy. Over the course of my visit, I did a significant amount of walking through the downtown, as well as the Tennessee campus. There’s a nice vibrancy that comes with being a college town.

NASC will soon become SPORTS ETA. However they are referred, they are the standard-bearer for the sports tourism industry, and the Symposium is a must-attend event. The show offers an excellent selection of breakout sessions covering the best practices of our industry. And the appointments where communities meet directly with event rightsholders provide a direct-connect for CVB’s and sports commissions to recruit events that are best suited for their local assets.

It’s a little different for me now when I attend the show. Though I’m not there representing one specific community, I am still there looking on behalf of our client-communities, trying to further my industry education, and enjoying the interaction with like-minded souls. We are a merry band of sports tourism warriors and this is our annual rite. This is an occasion I look forward to, and the trip to Knoxville did not disappoint.