Tracy West, Tournament Director for the Valspar Championship, joins Bobbi-Sue on this week’s episode to discuss her career path. Having started her professional career doing market research and economic forecasting for the furniture and insurance industries, Tracy found her true calling after she began volunteering for a junior chamber organization on their Championship Tour event. Since then, Tracy has been running events from exclusive charitable runs that end on home base at Fenway Park to PGA tour events. Bobbi-Sue is fascinated by the ins and outs of running a PGA tournament and how fun it must be to have such a creative title sponsor such as Valspar Paints. Other areas touched upon include: how to get more women working in golf or the sports industry generally; a shared love of Dunkin Donuts; and why people from the Northeast need to understand that the sun in Florida is different and they need to wear sunblock.
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Additional Show Notes:
- Tracy originally worked in the furniture and insurance industries on marketing research and building economic forecasting models And still uses the information she learned in that position.
- Volunteer experience led to Tracy’s first professional sports job.
- Tracy breaks down how her charitable organization ended up running the Sr. PGA Tour tournament in their area.
- Copperhead Charities is the 501(c)3 that runs the Valspar Championship. The money raised is given to other local charities. As a result of the 2017 tournament, they raised $2.4 million and donated that to over 80 local charities in the Tampa Bay region.
- There is also a huge economic impact to the Tampa Bay area.
- Tracy played basketball and ran track in high school. BSDH reminisces, per usual, about her high school running days.
- Tracy relates how, when she was a kid, she wasn’t included when the guys in the family golfed. Now everyone in her immediate family plays.
- She moved over to Boston to be the director of the Bank of America Championship tour event. She then worked for Mass General Hospital and Red Sox to assist with the fundraising efforts for a clinical care program for veterans with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries. Their main event was the Run to Home Base at Fenway – this leads to BSDH and Tracy fawning over Fenway for a few minutes.
- Tracy talks about Pro Links Sports and her move down to Tampa Bay.
- Bobbi-Sue and Tracy discuss the UMass Sport Management program, and BSDH requests that Tracy’s son bring back from Antonio’s Pizza for Bobbi-Sue.
- The discussion then turns to recruiting elite golfers for events, the various things that Valspar Championship has done to attract more visitors, and how working with a fun title sponsor like Valspar Paint has allowed for creativity.
- Tracy makes an extra effort to recruit women to work for her and she explains how.
- Fun tidbits about Tracy:
- She doesn’t drink caffeine and really doesn’t need a lot of sleep
- She eats in her car on the way to work
- She loves Dunkin Donuts
- And there is definitely a struggle with remembering to wash off makeup and put on sunblock.
- “But who would you play with?” – The question her father would ask when she asked to play golf.
- “It just didn’t dawn on him that they would actually take me to play with them.”
- “These jobs just don’t pop up every day.” – Regarding taking the position with the Valspar Championship.
- “I do make him send me boxes of leaves” – Regarding fall in New England and what Tracy makes her son do.
- “If you want a 9 to 5 job, this is not it.”
- “Two months of the year, I just … disappear” – Regarding lead up to the event.
- “I guess I just live off of the high of what’s going on in front of me.”
- “When you do have a job opening, making a conscious effort to at least make sure that you are reaching out to females to apply. First and foremost.”
- “Making sure that females like the two of us that are in the industry, that we are taking the time to go to colleges and go to sports programs and speak.
Follow the Leader:
Extra Credit Reading/Watching:
- “Valspar Championship Names Former Red Sox Foundation Exec Tournament Director” (BizJournals)
- “Most Influential Women in Tampa Bay Sports” (Tampa Bay Times)
- “Valspar Championship Evolves into ‘Must See’ Status” (BizJournals)