El Paso USL continues to take shape ahead of its 2019 debut, as it has announced team name finalists and several front office staff appointments.
In April of this year, the community was invited to submit team name ideas. El Paso USL fans submitted more than 1400 name ideas for the team.
The finalist names include:
“We had a lot of fun reviewing the list of names submitted by El Paso USL fans,” said Alan Ledford, President of MountainStar Sports Group. “There was certainly a great deal of thought put into the submissions, and the region’s passion for soccer was definitely evident. Based on the feedback we received, we know our local fans are quite creative, but that tradition is equally important to them.”
The public is invited to vote on the finalist names at www.elpasousl.com/nametheteam beginning today through midnight on Tuesday, July 17, 2018. The final team name selected will dictate the team’s colors, crest, uniforms, and mascot. The team name announcement later this year will include the team’s colors and crest. Uniforms and mascot reveals will be scheduled subsequently.
“This is definitely an exciting time to be an El Paso soccer fan. It’s been thrilling to follow the unpredictable World Cup matches with local soccer supporter groups and fans. It is really rewarding to witness the enthusiasm for El Paso USL,” said Andrew Forrest, General Manager for El Paso USL. “We look forward to announcing the official team name, along with all the other design elements.”
Each of the finalist names was submitted by multiple individuals during the name entry period. As part of the Name the Team contest, those who submitted the winning name will be entered in a drawing. The person selected as the winner will win the grand prize, which includes 2 season seats for the 2019 season, 2 official jerseys, and the winner’s picture taken with the team during the 2019 season.
The criteria for selecting a team name includes name popularity based on public entries and voting, creativity, how well the name represents El Paso, and family-friendliness. While the public input is an important element of the decision-making process, MountainStar Sports Group will make the ultimate name selection based on the aforementioned criteria and USL approval.
In addition, El Paso USL recently announced several staffing additions and a promotion, bringing its business operation to a total of seven full-time employees since the organization was launched in February of this year. Becky Lee was named Director of Corporate Partnerships and Suites and Bob Bigney was named Director of Soccer Operations. New hires for the Sales and Service Department are Account Executives Sam Olson and Michael Flores. They join Sales and Service Representative, Ryan Schmitz, who has been working with El Paso USL for several months. Promoted to Director of Marketing and Communications is Sarah Nollner, who previously served the organization as Manager of Business Operations.
“As we prepare for the inaugural season to start next March, and field calls regarding interest in Season Seats and other opportunities, every day is critical for our organization. Hiring a talented and experienced slate of people strengthens our business and soccer operation,” said Forrest. “We look forward to further growth and success as we continue to build our staff.”
Becky Lee – Director of Corporate Partnerships
A native El Pasoan, Ms. Lee began her professional career with Southwest Airlines, but ultimately ventured into the sports marketing field working with the Phoenix Suns and the Phoenix Mercury. After working in Phoenix for several years, she returned to El Paso to work with UTEP Special Events as a Program Coordinator. In 2011, she joined Miner IMG as the Associate General Manager. In 2013 she was hired by the El Paso Chihuahuas as Director of Corporate Partnerships, the first hire for MountainStar Sports Group’s Triple-A baseball operation. In her new role with El Paso USL, she will continue to serve as a contributing member to the El Paso Chihuahuas Executive Leadership team. Ms. Lee graduated from Arizona State with a Bachelors Degree of Business in Marketing from the W.P. Carey School of Business.
Sarah Nollner – Director of Marketing and Communications
Ms. Nollner was the first hire for MountainStar Sports Group’s USL operation. Until this promotion, she was Manager of Business Operations. She joined El Paso USL from Major League Soccer/Soccer United Marketing in New York City where she was the Marketing and Media Consultant for the Mexican National Team, Copa America Centenario, and Gold Cup. Prior to that, she worked with Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles in US Business Operations. Ms. Nollner is a graduate of University of Kentucky and earned her MBA in Sports at San Diego State University.
Bob Bigney – Director of Soccer Operations
Mr. Bigney has over 30 years of experience in youth, collegiate, and professional soccer. He coached for over ten years at the college level and then served in player development roles, including Director of Coaching & Player Development for New Mexico Youth Soccer Association, which is a member of the US Soccer Federation. Throughout his career, he has served on the ODP Coaching Staff of US Youth Soccer Region I and Region IV. Mr. Bigney is an instructor for US Soccer Coaching Courses and he also served as Technical Director for the Arlington (VA) Soccer Association and the Director of Education for Oregon Youth Soccer Association. Prior to taking the position with El Paso USL, he worked as Technical Director for New Mexico Youth Soccer Association. Mr. Bigney earned a Bachelors Degree in Health and Physical Education from Davis & Elkins College in West Virginia. He also holds a Masters Degree in Education from the University of Richmond (Virginia) as well as a teaching certificate. He holds the National A License from the US Soccer Federation. For El Paso USL, Mr. Bigney will be responsible for helping brand the team in the youth soccer community and spread awareness to all youth soccer players, coaches and families in the Borderplex region. He will also assist with business and technical management of the first team and coaching staff.
Sam Olson – Sales and Service Account Executive
Mr. Olson is a native of Duluth, Minnesota where he earned a Bachelors Degree in Marketing with a minor in Communication from the University of Minnesota. While attending school, he worked for the university’s athletic department as a sports marketing intern. He also worked for the Duluth Huskies, which play in the highly respected Northwoods Collegiate baseball league, where he was the lead game day operations intern. Mr. Olson also participated in a program with the Minnesota Timberwolves where he received training from the ticket sales staff.
Michael Flores – Sales and Service Account Executive
Born and raised in El Paso, Mr. Flores graduated from the University of Phoenix with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business with a concentration in Management. He began his career working as an intern for UTEP Athletics Marketing. Later, he became a Graduate Assistant for UTEP where he was in charge of Marketing and Promotions for Women’s Basketball, Softball, Track and Field, Tennis and was secondary on Football and Men’s Basketball. Mr. Flores is currently earning his Masters Degree in Leadership Studies with a concentration in Communication from UTEP.
Rendering of Southwest University Park in soccer configuration courtesy El Paso USL.