PRESS RELEASE – The Coastal Plain League has announced Jesse Cole as the 2014 CPL Executive of the Year. Cole is the Managing Partner for the Gastonia Grizzlies and Forest City Owls, while also serving as President of Team Cole and Associates – the management firm that operates the Martinsville Mustangs.
“It is a tremendous honor to be named Executive of the Year,” said Cole. “The credit goes to the staff of all three teams. I could not accomplish any of this without them.”
Cole and his staff take pride in offering great entertainment on and off the field to attract fans to each of their parks. The Gastonia franchise broke the Grizzlies’ attendance record in 2014 with 54,543 fans making their way to Sims Legion Park. Add that to Martinsville and Forest City and his staff attracted over 130,000 fans between the three parks this season. A major drawing force for fans of all three teams, in addition to baseball itself, is the unique entertainment offered by each.
“We believe in providing a great show and service more than anything,” Cole explained. ”We focus on making the game fun for everyone, evident by having a Director of Fun [Emily McDonald] on staff.”
Never was this more apparent than when the Gastonia Grizzlies debuted ‘Tuxedo’ inspired uniforms that garnered national attention as evident by an estimated 48 million people that saw mention of the story, which even included an appearance on ESPN’s SportsNation at the start of the season.
“Jesse and his staff in Gastonia had an idea of a new alternate uniform that could make a splash in the community,” said CPL Commissioner Justin Sellers. “With all of the unique jerseys that teams are doing these days throughout Minor League Baseball, we thought it was something worth trying. Little did we know it would garner the attention from fans and media all over the country like it did. It’s that kind of out-of-the-box thinking that Jesse and his staff have capitalized on to help make their organizations successful.”
Cole joined the CPL in 2007 originally working as the Gastonia Grizzlies’ general manager before expanding his management to Forest City and most recently Martinsville.
One of his most impressive achievements in 2014 was his work in Martinsville specifically, where he has helped turn around a franchise that was in jeopardy of continuing to operate just two years ago. After only two seasons, Team Cole and Associates has transformed Martinsville into a profitable organization and recently reached a new five-year agreement with the City of Martinsville to keep the team operating in the CPL for years to come.
“We are thankful to the league for giving us the opportunity to take over the operations in Martinsville,” expressed Cole. “It has been a definite turn around. We knew we needed to find a way to offer affordable fun entertainment, and with the help of the amazing staff in Martinsville we have done that. It is a testament to how much the city believes in what we can accomplish.”
He believes the key to his success with all three franchises is his efforts within each community. As expected this translates to the franchises as well, where the three teams raised over $35,000 for non-profits in 2014 alone. Cole also instituted the annual Community Give Back Nights for each franchise to ensure their fans understand how much the teams truly appreciate their support each year.
“I do my best to become engraved in the community; without their support our efforts would not be successful, ” Cole said. “I’m known as one of the MCs in the community even, I chair different events, I do a little of everything to stay involved.”
This dedication to the community helped Cole earn 75 percent of all partnerships in Martinsville and in Gastonia in 2014.
Overall it is Cole’s passion for the CPL and the community as a whole that helps him stay driven. Cole and his staff will look to continue offering affordable fun entertainment in all three cities and are excited for what is to come in 2015 and beyond.