CSL Daily

February 26, 2016

Get to Work… Public Relations

Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 12.38.40 PMOne of the most unique aspects of the Center for Sport Leadership at VCU is the opportunity to provide students with a year of real-world experience while simultaneously earning a master’s degree. Each Friday, we will be showcasing one of our current students, highlighting their graduate assistantship within the Richmond sports community.

College athletics programs are often filled with individuals who wear as many hats as the closet can hold. No one knows this better than Connor Ford, a public relations GA at the University of Richmond. Ford helps the athletics department on a variety of different sports and has gotten exposure to a a number of positions within the department.

Ford is the head contact/SID (Sports Information Director) for Richmond’s men and women’s cross country and track teams. He writes the press releases for the teams and handles any sort of media associated with the sports. Ford also assists with the day-to-day media relations for all 17 of Richmond’s varsity sports which includes updating stats and records. Additionally, he works home sporting evenhightowerts for all sports and assists in sports information and video production responsibilities.

During his time at JMU, Ford was a student volunteer in the sport communication office and got interested in the field. He really enjoys working in media and PR because it presents opportunities in tons of different areas. So far, his favorite memory has been working with the University of Richmond’s football team when College Game Day came to the JMU v. U of R football game. Ford was asked to work in the press box at his alma mater during the game and ran the Spider Football twitter account while simultaneously dealing with game notes and stats. Another favorite memory was helping with the filming process of UR grad and current NFL running back Tim Hightower.

“I have been able to learn so many different skills at my GA that will help me with a career in sports but will also make me more of a well-rounded professional.”


February 23, 2016

Hat Tip Tuesday


On Tuesdays, we offer a “tip of the hat” to current students and alumni who have been hired, promoted, recognized for outstanding achievement or embarked on new opportunities. 


Glenn Gray headshot


Glenn Gray (’08) has been promoted to Vice President at Buffalo Invigoration Group (formerly Buffalo Communications). Glenn will serve as one of three VPs as they enter into an exciting phase, expanding its marketing, digital and creative services beyond PR. Glenn will be overseeing client in golf, soccer, industry, sport, hard goods and soft goods with a team of about 15 people. Glenn is also a member of the Center for Sport Leadership Alumni Advisory Board.



John Krikorian led the Christopher Newport Men’s Basketball team to an undefeated conference record and the regular season championship. The fifth-ranked Captains became just the second team in the 26-year history of the Capital Athletic Conference to conclude a season undefeated in league play, and CNU will host CAC Tournament play as the top seed. Krikorian, who earning his master’s degree through the CSL’s Distance Learning, is in his 6th season as Head Coach. Working on his staff is Tyler Graham, a 2015 graduate of the CSL.



Bobby Gary (’15) will be working with the Steward School lacrosse program. Bobby will be the head coach of the boys middle school team and an assistant coach for the boys varsity team.


February 23, 2016

Alumni Insight-Pete Stuart

The 2016 NASCAR season started with the closest and most thrilling finish to the Daytona 500 in its storied history as Richmond native Denny Hamlin took home the checkered flag. Center for Sport Leadership alum Pete Stuart had a front row seat.  A 2005 graduate of the CSL, Pete is currently the director of marketing communications at NASCAR, the second-most watched sport annually in America. His pete stuartcurrent responsibilities are to manage the communications around brand marketing and diversity initiatives in order to help bring in a newer and younger crowd to the sport of NASCAR. Stuart works on campaigns such as the Chase for NASCAR Sprint Cup’s Battle of Nations, and Acceleration Nation, the national youth platform. On top of these day-to-day jobs, Stuart oversees NASCAR’s strategic integration by running thought leadership conferences and events, which all include preparing top NASCAR executives for speaking opportunities. Pete is also a member of the Center for Sport Leadership Alumni Advisory Board. This Q&A was conducted by CSL graduate student Lindsey McBride.


CSL Graduate, Lindsay McBride: What is your favorite memory/task you’ve accomplished working at your current job?

Pete Stuart: Being part of such a talented group in NASCAR’s Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) team is a highlight in itself. Earlier this year, NASCAR IMC was recognized by PRWeek as the 2015 In-House PR Team of the Year– one of the PR / communications industry’s highest honors.

We place such a heavy focus on building the fan base, and introducing NASCAR to new audiences. We need to talk to different segments in different ways – whether we’re targeting youth, millennials or multicultural audiences. It’s rewarding to bring programs to life that are designed to engage these targets and cultivate new fans, especially when the response is so positive.

NASCAR made a bold move last year in revamping its playoff format. The decision to expand the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup to 16 teams in a four-round, elimination-style format was all about making the Chase more exciting and unpredictable – and it worked. It’s hard to imagine a finale more thrilling and dramatic than Kevin Harvick’s NASCAR Sprint Cup-clinching win at Homestead Miami Speedway last fall. Launching the new Chase – and in doing so, being part of NASCAR history – was a career highlight, without question.


LM: What was your biggest takeaway from your time in the CSL?

PS: Taking advantage of the practical experience the program offered. CSL emphasized student projects, internships and other real-world learning experiences that helped me better understand and navigate career opportunities in sports. Through those experiences, I discovered what my niche could be within the industry (turned out to be communications). In 2004, I was part of a CSL student team that conducted fan surveys at Charlotte Motor Speedway as part of a consumer research project for track partner Nationwide. It was my first introduction to NASCAR, first time experiencing the spectacle first-hand, the sights, smells and sounds. I knew then that NASCAR was a sport I wanted to be a part of, and in a roundabout way, I’ve made my way back and couldn’t be happier.


LM: How do you achieve the work/social life balance?

PS: I’m fortunate to work within a culture that believes in work/life balance and stresses its importance to team members. Achieving balance requires careful planning and efficient work habits, but most importantly it requires commitment. NASCAR is a sport that operates seven days a week for most of the calendar year…therefore it’s critical that employees find ways to create and enjoy a true sense of balance.


LM: How would you define leadership?

PS: Leadership is about creating a culture or environment where people are both empowered and inspired to be great…and to outperform even their own expectations of themselves.


February 23, 2016

LeCrom Talks Leadership with Team Excel


Each Tuesday morning at 9am, Dr. LeCrom teaches Leadership in Sport to our graduate students. This morning, she got an early start on the leadership talk addressing 7th graders at John Rolfe Middle School who participate in Team Excel.  This program was founded by former NFL player & Richmond native Michael Robinson and administered by CSL alum Johnathan Mayo and his company, Avail Marketing. IMG_9059

Before most of their classmates even arrived at school, Dr. LeCrom was encouraging the Team Excel students with a simple and direct message: You can be leader. She illustrated how leaders in sport are not just on the field but on the sidelines, in the front office and many other areas.

Dr. LeCrom facilitated a fun exercise where she handed the students everyday objects, like a flashlight, a sea shell and a banana, and asked them to describe how they are related to leadership.

Team Excel is a “reverse” Fantasy Football concept where students become the fantasy athletes, and professional athletes and community mentors serve as team coaches. Each week, students receive individual and team scores based on their grades, attendance, and community service. Teams compete for weekly prizes based on their team averages, with grand prizes awarded at the end of marking periods and the end of the year or “season”. Individual prizes are also awarded to students that excel throughout the year.

Several CSL graduate students are working with Team Excel as team leaders and mentors as part of their CSL service learning. Parker Kirwan joined Dr. LeCrom for today’s session.





February 23, 2016

Seahawks VP of Technology Highlights Panel Discussion


The Seattle Seahawks are one of the NFL’s most successful franchises, both on and off the field. Monday, one of the team’s top executives, a VCU graduate, provided insight into the team winning formula . Chip Suttles is the Vice President of Technology for the Seattle Seahawks. He was part of a panel discussion, hosted by the Center for Sport Leadership, which also featured VCU alumnus Mark Hansan, President and CEO of Caremetx,which IMG_9532provides tools and support to bio-pharmaceutical and device manufacturers to document a patient care. The 3rd member of the panel was a longtime friend and partner of the CSL, Jon Lugbill, executive director of Richmond based Sportsbackers.

Each shared their career journey, emphasizing the twists and turns they experienced along the way. Suttles is responsible for aligning technology vision with the overall business strategy of the Seahawks and increasing the performance of the organization by modernizing technology to improve the customer experience and drive increased revenue. His areas of focus include maintaining & optimizing the IT infrastructure, upgrading stadium technology, supporting player performance analytics, developing CRM systems and enhancing the organizations’ websites and social media platforms.

Before joining the Seahawks four years ago, Suttles worked for the Vancouver Canucks. He also has significant experience working with Olympic Organizing Committees in Vancouver, Salt Lake City, Torino and Atlanta.

With so many diverse and rewarding professional experiences, Suttles says his current gig with the Seahawks may be at the top of hte list. “You know you’ve found the right job when…I never set the alarm clock. I haven’t set an alarm in four years.” His wife says it’s because he’s old but Suttles says it’s because he loves his job, his colleagues and his management team and he can’t wait to attack the daily challenges.

Suttles is an accomplished sports executive but the Richmond native can remember a time when he was an ambitious young man just looking for a chance to break into the business and a way to distinguish himself in a crowded marketplace. He recalled volunteering for the Tour duPont, a world class cycling event that came through Richmond. That experience helped shape his career and is something he looks for in people he hires. “I look for volunteers and the type of events they have volunteered for. I also look at the kind of people they associate with and the type of activities they like to do.”

Suttles also said, “Look for opportunities. Maybe it’s not exactly what you want to do but be willing to learn something new and expand your skill set. And always be curious.”




February 19, 2016

Get To Work… Community Service

Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 12.38.40 PMOne of the most unique aspects of the Center for Sport Leadership at VCU is the opportunity to provide students with a year of real-world experience while simultaneously earning a master’s degree. Each Friday, we will be showcasing one of our current students, highlighting their graduate assistantship within the Richmond sports community.

While many of our students opt for the more traditional GA’s in coaching and administration, Sherlanda Buskey chose the community service route and is truly making an impact on the Richmond Community. Buskey’s assistantship is with VCU AmeriCorops, the largest and longest running community service program in Virginunnamedia with an educational focus that hopes improve the literacy skills of children in grades K-5 in Richmond City Public Schools.

Buskey pursued this work because of she has a passion for helping at-risk youth within the community, primarily due to experiences in her youth that showed her kids can overcome adversity if they have the right leadership tools. Through this GA, Buskey is committing a year of her life to focus on youth that need guidance to follow the right path and encouragement to keep working hard in school. Her primary responsibility with AmeriCorps is to be a role-model.

“They trust me, they trust my advice, and they trust that I am committed to helping them become better in life.”

Buskey is in charge of facilitating the “Spark Program” which is a YMCA partnership encouraging kunnamed (3)ids to engage in leadership style sport activities, both team-building and free play. She also helps children with homework and facilitates “the A to Z” program helping kids hone their reading and writing skills. The program also provides nutritious meals to the children they foster, for some their only meal of the night. So far, Buskey’s favorite part of her work has been the relationships she has built with the children. She has a special mentor relationship with one boy in particular, and believes they inspire and help each other to grow.