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Happy April!  

We hope your Spring leagues are booming!  Can you believe that we're already a few weeks into Q2?    

In this month's newsletter, we have a TON to cover!  We will introduce our new Executive Committee for the FY19-20 term, congratulate the winners from the SSIA Fitness Challenge AND the top seminar presenter from the 2019 SSIA Conference, share Chris Giebner's Conference Summary report based on attendee survey responses, and provide a few housekeeping updates.  We will also highlight a sponsor and member, AND introduce a new section to the newsletter: the Event of the Month, which is being spearheaded by Felix Goodson of VAVi / CLUBWAKA.

If you have any questions or comments, or would like to be considered for a future Highlight opportunity, please contact Krissy at

~ Your SSIA Team

Welcome New EC!
Thank you to all of the clubs that voted AND to everyone who ran in the EC Election. Please welcome the Executive Committee for the FY19-20 term!  

The new board met for their first monthly Conference Call on April 4th to determine officer and chair positions, and to start thinking about upcoming initiatives for this term that will be further discussed at the EC Retreat in Toronto this June.

Brian Irving with Chicago Sport & Social Club will serve as President for the next 2 years, as the President serves a 2-year term and the remaining officer and chair positions are 1-year terms.  

John Pantzer with Circle City Athletics and Kristi Herold with the Sport & Social Group both ran for Vice President.  After receiving an equal number of votes, both candidates agreed to a tie breaker.  The role ultimately went to John, and Kristi stepped into the Treasurer position.  

EC newcomers, Louis Hodgetts with Game On VT, is assuming the Secretary position; Marc Tucci with Austin Sports & Social Club will serve as the Grievance Chair; and Nikki Hartel with Chicago Sport & Social Club will co-chair the Purchasing Chair position with EC vet Omid Rafiei of Houston Sports & Social Club (he will also co-chair the Marketing Sub-Committee with Marvin Guelce of Atlanta Sport and Social Club).  Ian Elston with Club Sport will still serve as Sponsorship Chair; Felix Goodson of VAVi / CLUBWAKA is taking over the Events Chair; and Chris Wessely with the Sport & Social Group and Robert Kinsler with United Fray will serve as Members At Large.
Thank You and Congrats!
We'd like to say a HUGE THANK YOU to Christian Crute and his team at SportsLink for putting on the third SSIA Fitness Challenge!  

Individuals and teams competed for prizes and bragging rights from March 11th-29th.  Points were earned through daily exercise and weekly challenges that varied in type and scope from food and water challenges, to social media posts and random exercises. 

Congratulations to the following winners:
  • Overall Winner: Brandt Tillotson with Sportsmonkey
  • Individual Female: Erica Finci Cunningham with Atlanta Sport & Social Club
  • Individual Male: Brandt Tillotson with Sportsmonkey
  • Club Winner - 1 Participant: Play In the Bay Sport & Social Club
  • Club Winner - 1-4 Participants: Underdog Sports Leagues
  • Club Winner - 5+ Participants: FXA Sports
  • Group / Team Winner: Always Third Wheeling 

Congratulations to Chris Hastings with Chicago Sport & Social Club and Catie Schreiman
with Atlanta Sport & Social Club for earning the highest-rated seminar with a perfect NPS score of 100!  If you didn't get a chance to attend this session, the presentation is available in the Locker Room for your viewing pleasure!
2019 SSIA Conference Survey Summary

Each year, Chris Giebner, owner of Club Sport and past SSIA President, summarizes the conference survey and shares his findings.  This year, you can read them by clicking HERE.  Yes, he reads every single comment, makes notes, and shares this with you, our members!  Your feedback is invaluable for planning future conferences, so thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the survey!  If you didn't have the opportunity to take it, but would still like to share your feedback, please email Chris at 

Don't forget to put next year's conference on your calendar: February 18th-21st in Cancun!

On April 1st, the following by-law changes were made:
  1. The size of the Executive Committee was reduced from 13 members to 12 (by-law 4.3).
  2. The Grievance Chair position was added (by-law 5.13.2).

On February 20th, the EC voted to implement a $250 reinstatement fee for clubs that are late in paying their dues on time.  Invoices now go out 90 days prior to the membership renewal date.  Dues are able to be paid either in full or in increments during that 90-day period.  
On February 20th, verbiage located on the Membership Structure chart on page 2 of the Membership Agreement was updated from "All listed markets must be at least 50% owned by another club to fall under another membership" to "All listed markets must be a majority owner".
Member Highlight

Beach City Sports is excited to announce a beach tournament and travel opportunity for SSIA members on June 1st of this year.  

The Huntington Beach Cash Tournament is a beach flag football tournament on one of the world’s premier beaches, in the middle of Orange County, California. BCS is hosting the tournament for the 5th Annual year, and offering all SSIA teams a 25% OFF coupon code for any teams or players who sign up. The tournament is coed beach flag football 8 vs 8 format in a one-day tournament Saturday, June 1.

BCS is seeking to attract teams from SSIA members to join against local teams from the LA area for the tournament. Included throughout the weekend will be a pre-tournament party on Friday and a post-tournament party on Saturday, as well as two hotel partners with availability and discounted rates if rooms are booked before May 1. Additional information is available HERE.  Interested organizations should contact Brooke Jreisat for marketing materials and to set up their promotional partnership.  

Sponsor Highlight

Dorothy Kolb of dK east, LLC's mission is to be your partner and mentor in strategic, financial and operational management.  She is a Certified Profit First Coach, which means that she's been trained to get your business profitable fast.

With over two decades of experience in social sports, working with organizations including CLUBWAKA, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, FOX Sports, CBS-TV/Radio and a foundational start at Deloitte, Dorothy says, " I have seen everything (like the Farmers commercial!), and can help you navigate the financial and strategic issues specific to the social sports industry so you can focus on the part of your business that you are passionate about."  

She realizes that most owners of sport and social clubs did not get into this business so they could spend their time doing accounting, budgeting and forecasting!  Her goal is to ensure clients get the support their businesses need to succeed at the best value.   

With offices on the East Coast (Baltimore/DC area) and the West Coast (LA), dK east, LLC, will give you a better understanding of the financial side of your business so you have fewer surprises.  As your business partner, they will help you interpret information and data to enable you to make timely and informed decisions to grow your business.   

Visit to learn more about their services.  Contact Dorothy directly at 302-289-6996 or

Event of the Month

Event Name:
 Atlanta Grilled Cheese Fest

Date: 4/13/19

Time: 11:30am – 6pm

Cost: GA: $28 (avg.) Grilled Cheese Lovers: $40

Activities: Tastings, Live Music, Tailgate Games, Bloody Mary Garden, Kidzone, Community Vendors

Event Producers: Atlanta Sport and Social Club

Number of participants: 4,400

Contact info: or

Q&A On The Atlanta Grilled Cheese Festival

How did your event go?  The event went great! We had over 25 participating restaurants this year serving over 50 different versions of Grilled Cheese. The People’s Choice Winner of the day was from Babalu: Deep Fried Muenster Grilled Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes and Candied Bacon. Who doesn’t love deep fried cheese?

Did you hit your goal on numbers of people and overall profit?  We did hit our attendance goal, but are still hoping to grow the event even more. As far as profit, we are happy with what we brought in- the Bloody Mary Garden was a huge success- but what we are even more pleased with is the fact that we raised over $5,000 for our charity partners in
one afternoon.

What were some of highlights besides the fact that grilled cheese was your main pleaser?  We booked some awesome local bands for the event this year that brought a very fun vibe to the overall event. The other biggest crowd pleaser had to have been the Bloody Mary Garden- that tent was consistently slammed. We invited local food vendors to provide samples for the Bloody Marys to “customize” their drink- the bourbon bacon was a huge hit. We also had a build your own toppings bar, multiple types of hot sauce, and three different types of Bloody Mary options. This space was strictly 21+ and included Giant Jenga, corn hole and separate hi-tops. I think attendees appreciated an adult-only zone. We didn’t leave the kids out completely though, we also had a kid zone.

How many pounds of Grilled Cheese were consumed at the event?  Over 1,500 lbs. of cheese were harmed in the making of this festival.

What one item did you do different from last year to this year that made a big difference in the right direction?  One of the most time consuming and challenging pieces of producing this event is connecting with the restaurants and selling them on the concept. Explaining to a seafood restaurant or a healthy food truck why they should spend their Saturday at our event serving grilled cheese samples when it’s out of their wheelhouse can be a longer conversation. This year we brought on a local PR firm who specializes in the restaurant industry, Via Failla LLC, to help expedite those conversations. This was a game changer for us, as it helped open doors to multiple top Atlanta restaurants and got a lot of attention on social media.

What’s that one item you could have done to make it just a little more over the top?  I would love to have everyone at check-in in Grilled Cheese costumes. Or, maybe we even have a “cheesy” costume contest. There are lot of fun ideas left to explore with this concept. Maybe next year the trophies we give out to our first place winners are giant cheese shaped trophies?

Any surprises that you could share that just happen in the event world?  Nothing will ever be perfect and event day will be spent pivoting and changing things on the fly. At this event specifically, we had over 75 different vendors including sponsors, community vendors and restaurants. Each of those has their own individual needs and questions. The day of the event is making sure all of these people have what they need to succeed and make the experience fun for attendees. We are a pretty difficult team to “surprise” at this point, but that’s the whole point- we never know what could happen. That’s part of the fun.

If you had one superpower you could have for event day what would it be and why? (Ex. Being invisible/see through things/lift anything?)  Super strength and flying for sure! Super strength just because I feel like I’m constantly moving things around and would love to be able to scoop everything up in one go. Flying for two reasons, one so I can get to places a little quicker without snaking through the crowds, but also to give my feet a break.

Any advice on someone thinking about trying an event like yours in the future?  Start recruiting restaurants as soon as possible and be prepared to talk numbers and marketing opportunities first thing. Know your expected attendance, how many food items they need to prepare and their expected revenue, but at the same time- keep it short and sweet. For an event this scale, all forms of communication quickly become your lifeline. I let all my vendors have my cell phone number and was able to answer quick questions via text when I was out of the office.

How would you have rated your own event from a scale of 1-10…10 being a Super Bowl level event and 1 being a Fyre Festival bust?  Based on my own experience, attendee feedback and vendor feedback- I’d place us at a solid 8. Our team rocked this event and the majority of attendees had a “gouda” time! That being said, we get better and better each year- so there is always opportunity to get even better.

What would you say is the most interesting vibe about your event compared to the other copy cats?  Our team has a passion for creating unique, memorable experiences. The most interesting vibe is our attention to the little moments throughout the festival. Attendees had the opportunity to “text to vote” for their favorite sandwich at the event, we had local amateur chefs compete in a head to head competition to see who could cook up the best grilled cheese, we had a full kid zone with face painters, festival games and balloon animals and unique vendor experiences like a shopping boutique inside a bus! While the event is all about the Grilled Cheese, we pay attention to additional ways to engage our attendees and keep them interested at every stop at the event.

Plans for this event in the future?  To continue to scale. I would also love to see the competition part of this festival take off. We’ve been toying with it and tweaking it over the past few years, and it is another layer of this festival that gets our chefs and restaurants really excited. They all get super competitive and put out some ridiculous and delicious combinations.

Where do you envision this event in 5 years?  I can see this event quickly outgrowing the space we grew into this year- Atlantic Station. In five years, I have no doubts that we will be able to get 40-50+ restaurants onboard and take over an even larger footprint. I don’t see the cheese fandom dying down anytime soon, and I am just excited to continue to find ways to scale this event while incorporating different twists each year.

Thank you Michelle for all your answers and sharing your experience. I am sure our readers will get a few gems out of this recap.

Readers, additional information about the Atlanta Grilled Cheese Festival is available HERE.  Please let me know if you found this Q&A helpful. Feedback and questions are always welcome. If you have an event you want highlighted or would like to see some other questions asked for future events please email  

Thank you to our Partners
Thank you to our Platinum Sponsors
Thank you to our Gold Sponsors
Thank you to our Silver Sponsors
Copyright © 2018 Sport & Social Industry Association
All rights reserved

Contact Us:
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Krissy Greenleaf, Associate Director:

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