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Author - Megan Meisse

Sports Business Career Conference

By: Mark Gress Jr., Prodigy Sports

On July 19, Prodigy Sports co-sponsored, along with Drexel University’s Center for Sport Management, an invitation-only Sports Business Career Conference for current graduate students and alumni of Drexel’s relatively young Sport Management program.  The theme for the day was the “Evolution of Careers in Sports Business – How the Game Has Changed”. With strong speakers and talented panelists, ranging from key leaders at companies like the NBA, Philadelphia Eagles, The Athletic, Red Sox Foundation, and many more, it was a day of knowledge sharing about and relationship-building in the sports field.

We were very lucky to have Lara Price, Senior Vice President of Business Operations for the Philadelphia 76ers, start our day as the keynote speaker.  Aside from her incredible insights into the present and future business ventures of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, she talked about how things have progressed over the years – from multiple ownership changes to tremendous growth of staff sizes and scope of responsibilities, and of course, incredible technological advances.  Beyond that, new revenue streams are emerging every day as are varied business interests of her and other ownership groups (i.e.: HBSE’s focus on the NBA G-League, international soccer, minor league hockey, esports).  It was fascinating to hear her discuss the areas that are advancing and therefore what job seekers should keep an eye on – analytics, data, esports, content, and OTT, among many others.  The biggest takeaway from Lara from her session – “we are looking for people with intellectual curiosity!”

After Lara, we had two back-to-back panels: 1) Ask the Recruiter and 2) Emerging or Untapped Hiring Sectors of the Industry.

From the “Ask the Recruiter” panel, a few common messages stood out:

  • Apply for the most relevant and applicable jobs, not dozens or 100s at a time, for/with the same company
  • Use social media, like LinkedIn, as a candidate to enhance your brand, tell your story, and market yourself
  • Be different, stand out…but perhaps don’t mail the organization jerseys, shoes, or cookies to express your passion and interest
  • Look in areas where the jobs are being developed as we speak…esports, market research, social media, digital asset/digital library, sport performance and business analytics, fan experience, sports gambling, fantasy sports
  • Search outside of the “Big 4”, branch out, and be flexible; don’t be afraid to get experience and gain skills outside of the industry
  • If your long-term goal is to be physically based out of a specific region (“home”), develop a road map that may allow for short-term, reasonable relocation to other markets that would position you best to return after you’ve built skills and gained experience

The moderator and panelists from “Emerging or Untapped Hiring Sectors of the Industry” provided another perspective as true practitioners in unique spaces in the industry:

  • Networking is a lot of work (after all, the word “work” is right there)
  • Utilize sports business industry conferences to volunteer, build relationships, and get your name out there at a young age; be a sponge for information and introductions
  • Have a positive, don’t quit attitude; you won’t be the first or last sports industry professional to get knocked down…just get back up
  • Grind it out, especially but not exclusively, early in your career; don’t be afraid to take risks
  • Don’t be afraid to change directions and pivot in your career; take chances, particularly calculated ones
  • Have a plan, have goals but be willing to go off script
  • If struggling to find a job “IN” the sports industry, work towards landing a job that works “WITH” the sports industry
  • Let your network know EXACTLY what you are doing and when you are doing certain things (graduating, changing careers, moving), inclusive of family and friends, not just your professional network

Dr. Karen Weaver, Associate Clinical Professor at Drexel, summed up the day for the attendees very simply – “Add Value”!

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“Ask the Recruiter” was moderating by yours truly and welcomed Dan Rossetti from Prodigy Sports, Colleen Scoles from the Philadelphia Eagles, Bryan Lick from the NBA, and Christopher Nash from Comcast Spectacor.

“Emerging or Untapped Hiring Sectors of the Industry” featured Mark Burns from Sports Business Chronicle, Elyse Matsumoto from NESN, Mick Blume from Red Sox Foundation, Arin Segal, formerly of Prodigy Sports, and currently with Delmondo, Kevin Giordano, formerly of Nelligan Sports/Philadelphia Union, from Spark, and Derek Bodner from The Athletic.

As Vice President, Recruiting, Mark Gress Jr. brings more than 10 years of experience in the sports industry. He initially joined Prodigy Sports in early 2015 as Director, Recruiting before being promoted in 2016. Gress’ experience in the industry has brought him success in filling positions for Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, World Rowing Championships, USA Curling, USA Table Tennis, USA Taekwondo, and many more.

Contact: mark@prodigysports.net

Checking In With: Josh Brickman, Boston Bruins & TD Garden

Enhancement and Measurement through a World-Renowned Franchise: Advice from Placement Josh Brickman

By: Megan Meisse, Prodigy Sports

Candidate placed: October 2016

Home of the NHL’s Boston Bruins and the NBA’s Boston Celtics, TD Garden hosts over 3.5 million people a year, between its 19,600-seat arena, top-notch premium areas and award-winning technology. With two professional sports teams and a record breaking concert season the energy around the building has been buzzing.

Josh Brickman

Imagine, your first day of work at New England’s largest sports and entertainment arena happens to also be the home opener for the Boston Bruins. From his very first day of his new job with TD Garden, Josh Brickman experienced what it’s like to be a part of a 90+ year old franchise and become part of one of the most passionate fan bases in the country.

Prodigy Sports was pleased to place Brickman in his role as Vice President of Business Strategy for the Boston Bruins and TD Garden.  In this role, Brickman reports directly to Glen Thornborough, Chief Revenue Officer for TD Garden and Boston Bruins, and is responsible for the newly created digital team, which includes digital marketing, data solutions and analytics. As the Vice President of Business Strategy, Brickman works to streamline Boston Bruins and TD Garden research and strategy efforts in conjunction and collaboration with marketing, ticket sales, corporate partnerships, premium, retail, and other business lines.

Brickman and his team provide direction on consumer marketing, customer analytics, retention and sales strategy, retail operations, CRM and sales planning, in addition to, general market research to keep TD Garden as an industry leader in digital trends and maximization.

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“It’s been a really incredible experience getting familiar with everything. The transition worked well and I was able to bring in some of my own flavor to the organization,” Brickman stated.

Many of the projects he is currently working on started before he came in, but Brickman’s role helped to get them these initiatives off the ground. One major task is the launch of SAS, which uses data collection from a variety of sources to help better serve fans in the future. Brickman explained that his responsibility is to lead the SAS project from start to finish, including TD Garden website and mobile application integration.

When asked what one of the most essential elements in using customer relationship management information systems is, Brickman stated, “it’s really two things; have a clear understanding of your goal and be able to clearly communicate the process.” He mentioned how important it is to be good at communicating what he and his staff are trying to achieve, both internally and externally.

In his prior experience at Monumental Sports & Entertainment, Brickman served as Vice President, Strategy & Research, which was a very similar role to his now with the Bruins and TD Garden. One of the biggest differences in his current role is being more involved with the day to day operations with the arena. Brickman attributes much of his knowledge and understanding of certain processes from his education and earliest experience at his first job, where he could apply his economics background to his role.

Although many strategies have changed since his first job, Brickman is excited for emerging trends in the industry. Brickman states, “the opportunity to get away from ‘all to one is possible’. The ability to target an email campaign based on a fans actual behaviors and past interactions with the arena and team is a significant opportunity for us and a great benefit for fans. However, he also shared how it takes time and dedication to get to those next steps. “Anyone can do this work manually but once it is built in the system or in SAS, these tools allow you to build on that process,” stated Brickman.

Having grown up in Connecticut, he always enjoyed that market but admitted it is not easy to move a family. However, there is great benefit in utilizing your resources like family, friends and colleagues for someone looking for a career change. Brickman believes there is incredible value in sports management programs. Though it is not an easy industry to get into, if you leverage your early relationships and build you network, you are quickly reminded of why it is one of the best industries to be in.

For those looking for a career move or to get into the sports industry, Brickman emphasized the importance of understanding the pace of the game and the industry as a whole, something that someone with a sports background may understand at a higher level. However, he went on to state that there is room for every type of background in this industry, especially if you are willing to start in any role to get your foot in the door. “As companies try to keep up with their counterparts, there is deeper need for an individual with a mixed background. Sometimes those backgrounds see it from an outside view and do it better than us!” stated Brickman.

As the evolution of technology emerges, there are exciting new projects to come and look forward to the continued success of Brickman, TD Garden, and the Boston Bruins.

 

Summer Break or Work Late

Summer Break or Work Late: How to Regain Productivity During Summer Months

By: Megan Meisse, Prodigy Sports

Summertime tends to be a favorite for many compared to the other seasons. What is not to love about the sun shining, crowded beaches, and that delicious soft-serve ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles? Out of all of these summertime favorites, there is one that is generally not included in that mix: heading to the office and spending your week at your desk…even for those who love their job and love their company.

There is no surprise that it is easy for employees to be less motivated when the sun is shining on a hot day outside their window, which may impact productivity in the office. There are vacations taken either by your employees or by clients you are working with which makes it difficult to get answers right away. People tend to take slightly longer lunch breaks, if not on vacation, taking in every bit of warmth and fresh air they can. Let’s not forget about “Summer Fridays”. With that being said, how does management keep their staff motivated and engaged to prevent loss of productivity? Or can they?

The summer months are the perfect time to invest in your team and culture. Use the slow times to evaluate your staff and needs as a department or company overall. What are you lacking and how can you use that to benefit your department when seeking to fill in those blanks? How can you make your staff different? What are your goals for the coming months? Take the time to invest in your corporate culture as that can make or break an organization and the flow behind your employees. Prepare for the future and what is ahead.

Aside from motivating your staff, it is easy to get frustrated when it comes to lack of response via email or phone from others outside your organization. The frequent ‘Out of Office’ reply email sits in my inbox more than I would like but the key to remember is letting go of what you cannot control. Mental health and taking a break every now and then is crucial for every single human to get through their life. Treat your brain like a muscle – exercise it but also let it rest. Trust in others and your staff that if an email is pressing enough, they will respond in a timely manner. However, if you are one of those also getting the constant “I am OOO with limited access to email” message back, let go of what you cannot control and hope they are enjoying their time as if it were you. Focus on another project, try alternative resources to get an answer to what you need, or simply wait. After all, patience is a virtue (something I need to remind myself every day).

Summer break is a great time to build your staff, focus on the culture you are presenting every day, set goals for the coming months, and take a mental vacation. Every business is different but when employers understand and acknowledge the separation of personal and professional life, employees feel more appreciated, engaged, and (hopefully) productive.

As Senior Recruiting Associate, Megan Meisse works across Prodigy Sports’ executive search division, handling various clients across the sports and entertainment industries. Aside from her executive search role at Prodigy, Meisse also handles digital initiatives and content creation for Prodigy Sports.

Contact: megan@prodigysports.net

 

Checking In With: Meredith Scerba, World Rowing Championships

Learn how to prepare for a worldwide event: Advice from Meredith Scerba

By: Megan Meisse, Prodigy Sports

Candidate placed: August 2015

More than 1,700 Olympic-caliber athletes, from more than 60+ countries, and to be broadcasted to a worldwide television audience of nearly 130 million people. This 9-da308b409y period from September 23 to October 1, 2017 is estimated to have over 40,000 spectators. The 2017 World Rowing Championships mark the first time the International Federation of Rowing Associations, or FISA, has selected the United States to host the championship in more than two decades.

Prodigy Sports had the privilege to work with the 2017 World Rowing Championships and Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates, better known as SANCA, along with Sarasota and Manatee Counties on the Gulf Coast of Florida, where the competition will be hosted in Nathan Benderson Park (NBP). Leading up to this global competition, the Championship was seeking an Executive Director, in which Prodigy Sports placed Meredith Scerba into this role. Scerba brings a background with the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, as well as the Cleveland Cavaliers.

When arriving at SANCA, Scerba started from scratch, taking what she’s done in Cleveland and applying that to something new, learning about the sport of rowing itself. Having been in one place for over 10 years in Cleveland, Scerba had to quickly learn the dynamics of working with a nonprofit with close government ties, for a county-owned park.

In her first three months, she was a “one-man shop” but shortly worked with a local organizing committee and staff workers, to bring all ideas to life through their key relationships nationwide. When building her staff, Scerba mentioned the over-arching principles in regards to hiring a proper event staff is fitting the mix culturally. “This is a family, our team is a family. We may not see eye-to-eye but we have to have each other’s backs” she said. Scerba explained how the philosophy is important as there are “lots of people with lots of skills and experience, but have to bring a passion to do so.”

When she came on board, her goal was to connect the local community to the event, by having all prior programs that are happening leading up have one purpose: The Championships. “99% of my job is managing my team and the success of the event – sponsorship calls, marketing plans, communicating with the counties and creating strategic planning to hit goals,” said Scerba. When putting on an event, her internal tagline is “what is their internal journey?” “Plan as if you are a visitor and that you don’t speak English. Step out of your typical mindset and you can better plan as an outsider and think through an event,” said Scerba.logo-wrch2017

Scerba loves the spirit of working in nonprofits because of the sense of passion and commitment to a cause. She now enjoys educating the community, bringing something new to Sarasota, getting them excited but also eliminate any fears of something new. Scerba described Sarasota as a very artsy community, in which she used to her advantage, involving local live art projects, film festivals, and amazing companies to show them why NBP is the only Grade-A course in the United States, and now it is their chance to shine not only locally, but attract new business to these chambers and counties.

When asked about the steps in preparation for the Championship, a chuckled “where do I began” was the reply. Most teams arrive 13 days prior to the event in Florida, training, adapting to time change and weather. The full buildout of grandstands and tents, teams take over the facility by the weekend of the Championship, Scerba defines it as “one big puzzle made up of pieces but that’s what makes it fun.”

Scerba’s advice for those looking to get into a role within the sports industry was to never step away from an opportunity and volunteer. “Be engaged. Different types of events help expand knowledge and make you more marketable.” Scerba suggests “that if it doesn’t come right away, don’t send out resumes sitting home. Get out there and volunteer in events and seek out people on the staff to learn from.”

Prodigy Sports is proud to have placed Meredith Scerba into her role with the World Rowing Championships and look forward to an incredible event in 2017!

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RECENT PLACEMENT: Megan Ryan – Denver Nuggets

Prodigy Sports is pleased to announce the recent placement of Megan Ryan as Vice President, Marketing with the Denver Nuggets.

Prior to joining the Denver Nuggets, Ryan was with the Atlanta Hawks & Philips Arena for over three years, most recently as Vice President, Marketing Strategy. In this role, she oversaw the planning and development of marketing and communications plans for the launch of the transformed arena, Emory Practice Facility and the NBA G-League. Ryan joined the Hawks as Director, Marketing Integration, Direct Response and Digital before transitioning to Senior Director, Marketing Strategy and eventually Vice President, Marketing Strategy. Earlier, Ryan spent time with Cricket Wireless/AT&T, CSE and Boy Scouts of America.

In her new role in Denver, Ryan will be responsible for overseeing Nuggets’ brand positioning as well as developing and implementing marketing platforms and activities for the NBA team. She also will be responsible for all “brand” related activities, promotional functions, public relations and community relations.

 About Kroenke Sports & Entertainment

Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE) is committed to providing world class sports and entertainment for both live and broadcast audiences. We will welcome fans into our venues as family, providing respect and care from the purchase of a ticket, to the drive home. We will celebrate the best in sport and entertainment by recognizing the diversity and human spirit around us, and by working within our community to improve the lives of all those within the community. We will strive to perform this mission within a viable and self-sustaining business model.

Kroenke Sports & Entertainment is one of the world’s leading ownership, entertainment and management groups. As owners and operators of Pepsi Center, the Paramount Theatre, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, the Colorado Avalanche (NHL), Denver Nuggets (NBA), Colorado Mammoth (NLL) and Colorado Rapids (MLS), KSE’s sports and entertainment assets are second to none. Additional properties under KSE’s umbrella include Altitude Sports & Entertainment, a 24-hour regional television network; Altitude Authentics, the company’s official retail provider; and Altitude Tickets, the official ticketing provider for KSE teams and venues.

 

Prodigy Sports welcomes Meg Ryan to the Denver Nuggets!

Best of luck in your new role!

RECENT PLACEMENT: Kim Snider – PGA TOUR

Prodigy Sports is pleased to announce the recent placement of Kim Snider as Sales Manager, TOUR Championship with the PGA TOUR.

Snider joined the PGA TOUR after over five years with Atlanta Motor Speedway where she served in various roles including Business Development Manager, Corporate Sales Executive and Group Sales Associate. With the Speedway, Snider was responsible for maximizing revenue through the sale of event sponsorships, official partnerships, suites, hospitality, signage, digital assets, fan engagement and corporate events/meetings. She began her career with Indianapolis Motor Speedway, first as Seasonal Group Sales Representative then Ticket Sales Representative.

In her role with the PGA TOUR, Snider will be responsible for designing and implementing effective sales strategies to identify new business opportunities and grow existing client relationships in the Atlanta metro area for the TOUR Championship and other Championship Management events through tournament activation platforms.

 

Prodigy Sports welcomes Kim Snider to the PGA TOUR!

Best of luck in your new role!

RECENT PLACEMENT: Brian Aiello – PGA TOUR

Prodigy Sports is pleased to announce the recent placement of Brian Aiello as Sales Manager, The Northern Trust with the PGA TOUR.

Before joining the PGA TOUR, Aiello spent seven years with the New York Jets, steadily rising through the group sales department from Account Executive to his most recent role of Senior Manager. With the Jets, Aiello oversaw the group sales team while developing and activating all group sales related assets. Aiello also was with the New York Islanders for over two years in various sales capacities.

In his role with the PGA TOUR, Aiello will directly contribute to sales efforts for The Northern Trust by generating revenue through hospitality package and sponsorship sales.

 

Prodigy Sports welcomes Brian Aiello to the PGA TOUR!

Best of luck in your new role!

RECENT PLACEMENT: Chris Hutson – CoSport

Prodigy Sports is pleased to announce the recent placement of Chris Hutson as General Manager with CoSport.

Prior to joining CoSport, Hutson was Co-CEO & Founder of Turnstyles USA, a full-service sales, marketing and ticketing company serving professional sports organizations, major colleges, universities, and the fine arts industries. There, he worked with clients including the NFL, MLB, NHL, PGA, NASCAR and Division I colleges and universities. Earlier, Hutson was Senior Director, Team Development for the National Football League.

In this capacity, Hutson will be responsible for overall management of the CoSport team and operations located in the New Jersey offices as well as in the international sales offices for CoSport sales. He will be responsible for driving revenue for all CoSport assets, including but not limited to hospitality packages, hotel accommodations, as well as future marquee assets brought into CoSport’s portfolio.

 About CoSport

CoSport first offered guests from around the world unforgettable opportunities to celebrate the best of international sport at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. For more than 15 years, CoSport has actively sought to satisfy the needs and interests of each guest by sharing insights as a partner with the event organizer, developing a variety of thoughtful product offerings, and ultimately demonstrating the value of investing in a CoSport experience.

CoSport has access to a variety of in-demand event tickets. We obtain event tickets directly from the organizing body to ensure quality and choice for all our guests.  CoSport also identifies and secures quality hotel properties to ensure guest comfort as well as enviable proximity to all activities included in carefully designed CoSport package itinerary.  For packages that include dedicated ground transportation, CoSport provides transfers to the various events and activities included in certain Hotel and Tickets Package itineraries. Airport transfers are similarly provided for those guests from/to major airports to/from their package hotel.

CoSport is pleased to coordinate all these elements to satisfy each individual guest’s expectations. The CoSport team is well-versed in delivering exceptional package and ticketing experiences for guests from around the world. CoSport is committed to ensuring guests have all questions answered before arriving on-site and enjoy access to professional management to help navigate the exciting opportunities as well as potential challenges their travels may present.

 

Prodigy Sports welcomes Chris Hutson to CoSport!

Best of luck in your new role!

Recruiters on the Conference Circuit

By: Mark Gress Jr., Prodigy Sports

People often ask me and others at Prodigy Sports what our goals and objectives are at sports and entertainment industry conferences.  The initial inclination is that what we are trying to get out of and achieve at a conference is different than most attendees.  However, given our unique role in the industry (i.e.: not a team or league; nor a traditional vendor selling a product), it is a valid question.  Perhaps there would be value in our attendance at a SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) event or recruiting conference but our industry is so different and specialized that those conferences wouldn’t come close to matching the value we get and return on our investment.  Given we dive deep into the sports and entertainment industries every day in our projects, it only makes sense to attend these conferences as well, even if we are not the traditional target audience that it may be marketed to.

In no particular order, as recruiters in attendance, we have several tangible and intangible boxes to check off:

  • Meeting our past, present, and future candidates.  Putting a face with a name is critical.  Building rapport with people we ask to trust us with confidentiality and private details about their career, personal life, and salary is paramount.  Networking is key at these conferences so what better opportunity than to meet face-to-face (regardless of whether it is a coffee break, luncheon, or cocktail reception/happy hour).
  • Meeting our past and present clients.  While we have easy access to New York City, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington D.C., our clients are spread out from Florida to California and everywhere in between and possibly out of the country.  Conferences are a great central meeting place and time to check in on our placements, ask for feedback and suggestions on our work and processes, and dialogue about current projects.  Most importantly – we must use this time to say THANK YOU.
  • Seek out and pursue new business.  Clearly, we’re not the only ones at a conference looking at bringing back a lead to the office and converting new business but given we don’t view ourselves as a “vendor”, it isn’t done at a trade show or sponsored lunch.  Our role and what we do is based on people, the human element, so therefore our value is best proven and shown through our relationships, transparency, credibility, and strength in evaluating executive-level talent.
  • Listen, observe, and ask questions.  Getting the pulse of industry happenings, following the “movers and shakers”, understanding trends, and actively/passively participating in the conversation are critical.  We must be informed, even as generalists, about who is doing what in our industry, why they are doing it, and what the results/reaction are or have been. This is also helpful for us to see which areas we can focus our outreach in throughout certain teams, leagues, and venues.
  • Connect with industry friends to build and cement relationships.  Celebrate the victories, show appreciation for their friendship and support, and offer to help with anything personally and professionally.

Everyone’s reasoning for attending conferences is different but the value remains the same for all…even executive recruiters.

As Vice President, Recruiting, Mark Gress Jr. brings more than 10 years of experience in the sports industry. He initially joined Prodigy Sports in early 2015 as Director, Recruiting before being promoted in 2016. Gress’ experience in the industry has brought him success in filling positions for Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, World Rowing Championships, USA Curling, USA Table Tennis, USA Taekwondo, and many more.

 

Contact: mark@prodigysports.net

RECENT PLACEMENT: Jeffrey Young – NHRA

Prodigy Sports is pleased to announce the recent placement of Jeffrey Young as Vice President of Marketing & Communications with the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA).

Young previously was with Professional Bull Riders Inc. for over seven years in various capacities, including his most recent role of Regional Vice President, Live Event Marketing. Prior to his tenure with PBR, Young was Advertising Manager with the Nashville Sounds, AAA affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.

In his role with NHRA, Young will focus on advertising and promotions, fan engagement and communications and will develop and manage digital marketing initiatives, including social media, geo-targeted web advertising and local web promotions. Young will also develop tactical marketing plans and creative support for direct-to-consumer offerings including membership, event attendance, premium services and add-ons.

 About NHRA

 Headquartered in Glendora, California, National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.

Prodigy Sports welcomes Jeffrey Young to NHRA!

Best of luck in your new role!