AFL announces front office awards
Friday August 28, 2015
LAS VEGAS – The Arena Football League Office announced several front office awards at the League’s annual Awards Ceremony on Thursday.
Former Tampa Bay Storm CEO Tod Leiweke was chosen as the recipient of this year’s Commissioner’s Award, a distinction granted annually by the AFL Commissioner in recognition of an individual who has done considerable work to grow the game of Arena Football. Leiweke presided over the business operations of the Storm from 2010-2015 and has played a key role in the continued development of the franchise on and off the field.
San Jose SaberCats general counsel Alex Curotto was presented with the Founder’s Award, an accolade given each year by Arena Football founder James F. Foster, in recognition of longtime contribution to the League. Curotto, who has dedicated more than 20 years to the SaberCats organization, was previously honored with the Commissioner’s Award in 2014.
Philadelphia Soul COO John Adams was selected as the Executive of the Year. Under his leadership, the Soul hosted the first “Boardwalk Bowl” in Atlantic City, New Jersey, as well as numerous “Town Takeovers,” enabling fans and players to interact during public walkthrough practices in Philadelphia, surrounding towns, and South Jersey. The Soul have also helped raise awareness for a variety of causes through special game nights for The Jason Foundation, Wounded Warrior Project, and LGBT community.
The Support Staff of the Year award was given to the Tampa Bay Storm, and recognizes the entirety of front office support, including public relations, player personnel, coaches, management, and equipment staff. Storm administration includes: Chairman Jeff Vinik, CEO Tod Leiweke, President Derrick Brooks, COO Steve Griggs, and Board Member Elmer Straub. Storm operations includes: VP of Football Operations Jeff Gooch, Director of Player Personnel Dave Wilson, Media Relations Manager Ben Shotten, Football Operations Manager Chris Ramenda, Head Equipment Manager Paul Brace, Head Athletic Trainer Leigh Baker, Director of Storm Cheerleaders Kindra Ebanks, Medical Director Dr. Johnathan Phillips, Chiropractor Dr. Susan Welsh, Administrative Coordinator Bryanna Reveiz, VP of Event Production and Entertainment John Franzone, Director of Ticket Sales Ryan Cook, Director of Group Sales Ryan Niemeyer, and Corporate Partnership Activation Coordinator Amy Bigelow.
The Arizona Rattlers were named the recipients of the Sports Medicine Program of the Year and Equipment Manager of the Year awards. The Sports Medicine Program of the Year award recognizes the team’s head Athletic Trainer, Sean McMannes, along with the team’s physicians. Meanwhile, equipment manager Todd Conner, a six-year veteran of the Rattlers’ staff, was honored with the Equipment Manager of the Year award. Several other medical staffs garnered consideration as well, including Jeff Lambert-Shemo’s staff in Cleveland, Josh Gregoire’s staff in Jacksonville, Jason Kopec’s staff in Philadelphia, and Leigh Baker’s staff in Tampa Bay. Portland Thunder equipment manager Druw Holland was also a finalist for Equipment Manager of the Year honors.
The League also honored the Cleveland Gladiators with The Jason Foundation Community Service Award, an honor granted annually to an organization committed to making a significant positive difference in the community. The Gladiators made more than 30 community appearances in 2015, from visiting schools and hospitals to raising thousands of dollars for local charities.
About the AFL
Since its inception in 1987, the Arena Football League has showcased a fast-paced and exciting game to millions of fans in a myriad of markets across the country. The ESPN family of networks and CBS Sports Network will nationally broadcast AFL games each week for the entire 2015 season. This season will also be the first with Scott C. Butera leading the way as Commissioner. The AFL schedule culminates with ArenaBowl XXVIII Saturday, August 29, 2015 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.