As the TEAMS Conference & Expo turns 25 years old, we want to take a look back at some of the people that have made each event go as smoothly as it does — the ambassadors that you see helping direct traffic to events and also working in the exhibit halls and seemingly everywhere you turn. For a number of those who started out attending the TEAMS Conference while still in college, those experiences have given them entry into the industry.
NAME: J.D. Wood, an ambassador from 2007 through 2010.
WHERE IS HE NOW: Wood is the regional vice president of strategic development for SFM/SFC, a position he started in January. Wood previously served as director of business development and events at the Dallas Sports Commission, tourism manager at the City of College Station Parks and Recreation Department and senior competition manager for the National Senior Games. He has also served successful bids for and/or oversaw premier sporting events such as Super Bowl XLV, the NBA All-Star Game, Dallas World Cup 2026 and more.
WHAT HE REMEMBERS AS AN AMBASSADOR: “I was never exposed to the industry before that. Just the premise of sports tourism was a new concept. I was volunteering because in sports, you need internships — it’s about experience and working opportunities. I always lived by the thought that if I’m not doing it, somebody else is. I was president of our sports marketing association and it was Texas A&M, Ohio University and Mississippi State that got to go and if you were in a leadership role, you got the opportunity to go to TEAMS. Going and being a part of it and learning about sports tourism and sports commissions and the CVB aspect of it, it opened my eyes up to a whole other industry.”
HOW IT CHANGED HIS CAREER PATH: “Coming into college, you think of what you want to do in the industry of sports. I had the same thought process as most; you wanted to work with the big professional leagues and Jerry Maguire was a big thing back then, so I thought I wanted to be an agent. I originally came to A&M and was getting a business degree, then saw sports management as a path. (Being at TEAMS), it was a breath of fresh air showing that there were so many more avenues.”
THE CONNECTIONS HE MADE: “The first person I remember distinctly was Monica Paul, she was with USA Volleyball at the time. I had a great relationship with her and shortly after that, she went to the Dallas Sports Commission and that relationship continued to grow. … It was the TEAMS staff that introduced and opened up a lot of doors, the first year I was there, Ohio U and Mississippi State were graduate students while we were undergrad from A&M. I was learning the first year, but I tried to go above and beyond and by year two and three I was helping lead the team of ambassadors … Domico Rodriguez in Rapid City, he really helped me along the way. When I first started, there was a mixture of mid to small markets like a Domico, like a Kindra Fry in College Station, that did things together. And then you had the Cities of the Big 12 which did the event together and that showed other destinations working together as well.”
HIS ADVICE TO NEW AMBASSADORS: “Every position that I’ve ever gotten, received, earned, any of those variables, it was a connection I made at the TEAMS conference. Think about that when you’re introducing yourselves, when your duties are assigned, how people are seeing how bad you want to be there. The willingness to listen, to learn and look at assistance before advocacy — you want to create genuine relationships. You build those relationships by helping others, then as those relationships grow, you earn the right to call them a friend and you can ask them how I can take the next step in my career.”