My Circuitous Path

My name is Jennifer Stoll, and I love sports!
I'm an All-American tomboy hailing from the 'burbs of Cincinnati, Ohio. I grew up playing every sport under the sun, but it wasn't until my junior year in college when I discovered I could make a career out of the business of sport. My school had just added sport management as a major and I caught a passing mention of it in the hallway. As a DII softball player, I marched into the athletic advisor's office and changed my major that very day.

To me, sports is a universal language. It establishes bonds. It builds connections. It develops character. It's always changing. It's sometimes intangible, but the awe it creates is palpable. It represents opportunity, integrity, teamwork, camaraderie and common goals. And it is an important element of community and economy.

I was fortunate to earn my bachelor's degree in Sport Management from Colorado Mesa University, in Grand Junction, Colorado, then proceed directly to graduate school at the University of Louisville's stellar Sport Administration program.

Kenny Perry was a hometown hero at the 2008 Ryder Cup
My foray into the practitioner's seat came at the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla Golf Club shortly after I completed graduate school. It was an amazing experience that put me on a team responsible for one of the largest international golf competitions in the world.

To say I cut my teeth in sport operations through this experience is an understatement! From handling player transportation, to coordinating 3,600 volunteers from all around the globe on more than 50 committees, I got baptized by fire and quickly established my "Macgyver" approach to just find a way to get things done - including jumping 200 Cadillac courtesy vehicles when their batteries died in a parking lot.

Some of the Caddy fleet that I jumped
But perhaps the most important learning from that experience came from my increased awareness of the sport and event tourism industry, that destinations - like Louisville - actually proactively recruit events to their community to achieve a plethora of benefits.

In my naivete, I decided I needed to start a sports commission in Grand Junction, CO.

It took a few years, but in 2013, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime by the administration at Colorado Mesa University to build the only known sports commission to originate out of a university. My first day I was given an office, a computer, and a hearty "good luck" pat on the back. The rest was on me.

They say ignorance is bliss, and I would have to agree. I didn't even know what I didn't know. But I was determined to find out. Lots of stubbed toes and busted chins later, the Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission was formed in partnership among CMU, the City of Grand Junction, City of Fruita, Town of Palisade, and Mesa County.

Sports is supposed to be fun. Here's a pic of the 2018 USAC Collegiate Road Race. How can you not love this?!
It took an amazingly collaborative community effort. I was just blessed to be able to sit in the driver's seat. Our little project was rolling, we brought in and built some fantastic events, and my passion for the industry continued to grow.

I decided in my infinite wisdom (sense the sarcasm), that I should tackle a life-long dream and start my doctorate at Troy University, so I could learn more about our industry and research areas of interest to me. To give back, network, and learn, I volunteered for multiple NASC committees and applied for the board of directors. Well, when you are getting your doctorate and serve on the board of directors, you get "volun-told" (that's a real world in the events industry) that the education committee is the place for you.

The day every doctoral student dreams about...dressing up like an obnoxiously colored marshmallow man!
It wasn't long after that I began to realize that some of the things I was learning and implementing in Grand Junction, might be valuable to others in the industry as well. I noticed a void in academic literature related to sport and event tourism (almost everything is either sport management, or hospitality focused), and the practitioner education left something to be desired.

So I took the leap.

I left my full-time gig at the GGJSC - where we had just architected and passed a lodging tax increase to fully fund the sports commission that was less than 5 years old - and launched Stoll Sports Strategies, LLC. I now head-up the revitalization of the NASC's research and education strategies (a big undertaking in itself!), and help others in the industry improve their communities through sports.

I've written academic and professional published articles, authored a textbook chapter, presented at organizations and institutions around the country, won an industry "Game Changer" award, been recognized as a "Woman Who Rocks the Rockies" and had the most amazing experiences. And you know what? None of that would be possible without the amazing people who have guided and mentored me. Because of them, I'm on this crazy, circuitous path and I'm loving every minute of it!

Presenting on event development in small/mid-size markets at the 2018 NASC Annual Symposium.
You know that project that's been on your plate for a long time that you've been putting off because you're not sure where to start? Or that thought you've had about doing XYZ? Not to mention that nudge in your subconscious that says, "I wonder if...?". But you just aren't sure how. You know the ones - the big, hairy, audacious dreams for your organization that - through the power of sport - could propel your organization to a whole new level? I tackle those. I bring those aspirations to life through a purposefully blended approach of research and practitioner experience with one goal in mind: Making your organization the hero.

It's my passion. I gain fulfillment by watching you, your organization, your vision, your mission succeed.

So what ideas do you have? What are your hang-ups? Where could the hands of a trained researcher put the pieces in place to improve your organization's efforts through the power of sports? Let's partner because that, my friend, is my wheelhouse.

Why mountain biking in Western Colorado is EPIC!
Is sports my entire life you ask? Well, no. I live in rural western Colorado on a small ranch with my husband, where we raise chickens, cows, and two young children. I'm an avid reader, and love mountain biking, hiking, camping, climbing mountains, floating on the river, hunting, driving (and not wrecking) the tractor, old school country music and making memories with my kids, Wyatt and Hadley.

Proof of my solid tractor-driving skills.
That's a bit about my path. Now I'd love to hear from you. Reach me at or call/text 970-250-5734.

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