The NCAA Women’s College World Series has become one of the most-watched softball tournaments in the world and in 2022, it set an all-time attendance record at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.
But that growth hasn’t come by accident. At the TEAMS Conference & Expo/USOPC SportsLink Educational Session “The Women’s College World Series: How to Grow an Event,” panelists from USA Softball, the NCAA and Oklahoma City leaders discussed how they have partnered for the long term on stadium development, event development, marketing and promotion to take an event that was already best in class to a new level.
Cheryl Bond, USA Softball: Bond has served as the chief financial officer for the USA Softball national office since November 2020. Her primary responsibilities include overseeing all accounting functions as it relates to the business of USA Softball as well as supervising the in-stadium finances related to the Women’s College World Series hosted annually in Oklahoma City.
Michael Gett, NCAA: Gett is an assistant director in the Championships & Alliances Department at the NCAA, focusing on the game presentation of certain championships, including the Men’s College Cup, Women’s Final Four, Women’s Gymnastics and the Women’s College World Series. He has been at the NCAA since August 2017. Prior to the NCAA, Gett worked at the athletic departments of the University of Missouri, the University of Georgia and The Ohio State University.
Aubree Munro, Olympian: Munro competed in softball for the Florida Gators from 2012–2016 where she won three SEC Championships and two National Championships. Following her collegiate career, she played for Team USA from 2016–2021 and won two World Championship gold medals, two International Cup gold medals, Pan American Gold in 2019 and silver at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Adam Wisniewski, Visit OKC: Wisniewski has served as the vice president of sports development with Visit OKC since September 2021. His involvement in Oklahoma City’s premier events include the NCAA Women’s College World Series, OKC Memorial Marathon, and various international rowing and paddlesport championships at the Riversport OKC complex. Wisniewski came to Oklahoma City from Arlington, Texas, where he helped begin the Arlington Sports Commission in 2017.
Chris Turner, USOPC: Turner was named senior director of brand management for the USOPC in August of 2021. In that role, he leads commercial integration initiatives across the organization designed to grow partner, fan and athlete engagement in the Olympic and Paralympic Movement. Prior to the USOPC, Turner spent 25 years at ESPN where he last held the position of vice president and general manager of the SEC Network.
What They Said
Bond: “I literally have been a part of the World Series since about 2000. To see everything that has transpired, the growth of the youth tournaments, our grassroots program that gets to play there, we host national championships at the facility every year. Everybody wants to play in Oklahoma City whether you’re an adult slow-pitch player or a youth fast-pitch player. Watching this event evolve over the years, it’s become a destination for fans. … They’re here like clockwork. It’s a destination for the fans of the sport, for friends to get together around the sport that they like and it’s a destination for the players.”
Gett: “Stadium enhancements that have happened recently (to 18,000 from 12,000) … stuff like that, from our standpoint, helps with trying to reinvent the wheel inside the venue with cool new enhancements. We’re already having meetings now with our entire LOC from how we do starting intros, banquets, ancillary events (such as Fan Fests) … A lot of the stuff was new this year to enhance that relationship between the NCAA and Team USA because that relationship is very important.”
Munro: “Every level of my athletic journey has taken part in the stadium here in Oklahoma City. … I think that’s something that is exciting for women’s sports is the growth of it. There’s not a lot of places where you can play as a female athlete where there is that amount of buzz and atmosphere. … That’s what makes the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City so special.”
Wisniewski: “We know that a lot of cities don’t have that gift of a standing championship that’s going to be here year after year. That consistency of having it year after year does not equal complacency. It equals opportunity … Our biggest goal is at the end of the day, we don’t want back-to-back World Series to look the same.”