PRESS RELEASE – The Quad Cities River Bandits are known for helping young professional baseball players reach their ultimate goal of playing in Major League Baseball. This off-season; however, the River Bandits helped several front office staff members take the next step in their careers.
The Bandits added nine new full-time staff members prior to the 2016 season, replacing former employees who helped the River Bandits set attendance records in each of the past two seasons.
Among the new hires are two assistant general managers; directors of community relations, group sales, media relations, and merchandise; special events manager, head groundskeeper and finance coordinator. The new hires began in late 2015 and continued all the way through March, 2016. The need for so many replacements is an homage to the past, but also a glimpse of a promising future.
“We pride ourselves on our staff being among the best in Minor League Baseball,” said River Bandits owner Dave Heller. “Seeing so many of our people move up in their field this off-season is a testament to their hard work and dedication to the River Bandits and we are truly grateful for their service. Replacing them is no easy task. We searched the country to find a great mix of both local and national talent who will continue to uphold the River Bandits standards and be active members of the Quad Cities community.”
Below are the new full-time employees for the 2016 season:
Assistant General Manager Jacqueline Holm joins the management team in 2016. She comes to the Quad Cities after four seasons with independent baseball’s Sugar Land Skeeters, joining the Skeeters as an intern in their inaugural season in 2012. She stayed with the team for three more years, climbing to Director of Corporate Partnerships and the in-game, on-field host. Holm has worked with some big sport stars, including Roger Clemons, Tracy McGrady, and Pete Rose. Jacqueline is a native of Sugar Land, Texas – a suburb of Houston – and a graduate of Texas State University – San Marcos with a degree in public relations.
Amy Richey was hired as assistant general manager of special events and will oversee all special events at Modern Woodmen Park; including weddings, rehearsal dinners, corporate meetings and more. She brings over 15 years of both sales and event planning experience to the River Bandits. She has served as Director of Sales/Food & Beverage Director at the historic “Martha” in Abingdon, Virginia, Wedding Specialist at the historic Hotel Julien in Dubuque, Iowa., and an Outside Account Manager with an auto finishing distributer in Bristol, Tennessee. Richey attended Northwest Missouri State University and graduated from Mount St. Clare College with a degree in Visual Arts with a minor in Literature.
Gary Olson joined the River Bandits in March as the new director of group sales and ticketing. Olson, who will oversee all group outings and the box office at Modern Woodmen Park, has eight years of Minor League Baseball experience. He’s spent time with the Midwest League’s Kane County Cougars, Triple-A Oklahoma City RedHawks, and, most recently, the West Virginia Power of the South Atlantic League. Olson also spent time working in the athletics department for the Arizona State Sun Devils. The Des Moines, Iowa native was a four-year member of the Quincy College baseball team while earning a bachelor’s degree in sport management.
New director of community relations, Crystal Bowen, comes to the River Bandits directly from the Beloit Snappers, a fellow Midwest League club. She spent two seasons in Beloit, working up to an assistant manager position before coming to the Quad Cities. Bowen has also worked with both Camelback Ranch-Glendale, Spring training home of the Dodgers and White Sox, and the Duluth Huskies of the Northwoods League. A native of Duluth, Minnesota, Bowen played four years of collegiate softball for Bemidji State University while earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing and sport management.
Jake Levy takes over as the new director of media relations and play-by-play broadcaster for the River Bandits. Levy has spent time with the Carolina League’s Lynchburg Hillcats, independent baseball’s Camden Riversharks, as well three years of collegiate sports broadcasting and media. His work has taken him around the country with the World-Famous Harlem Globetrotters and he’s broadcast various sports for ESPN3. Levy will be the lead voice of the River Bandits for all 140 regular-season games, plus playoffs, on the River Bandits flagship station K-BOB 1170 AM in the Quad Cities and the River Bandits Broadcast Network. A native of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Levy graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2012 with a degree in broadcast journalism and a master’s in sport management from Wingate University in 2016.
A local celebrity also joins the River Bandits staff in 2016, with Darren Pitra taking over as director of merchandise. Prior to joining the River Bandits, Pitra spent 25 years in the radio industry, including time as program director, operations manager, and one half of the “Dave & Darren Show” for Nacho Radio. His voice rang across Modern Woodmen Park in the early 1990s as public address announcer for the Quad Cities Angels and River Bandits. Pitra is an Orion, Illinois native and currently resides west of the Mississippi River in Bettendorf, Iowa.
New Human Resources and Finance Coordinator Paige Hanna is a local Quad Cities product. She attended Western Illinois University, during which time she worked for her family’s accounting business while getting a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Hanna also has prior experience in the accounting department for Genesis Health Systems.
The special events department also picked up a new second-in-command, with manager Allison Hudson joining the River Bandits this off-season. Hudson previously served as aquatic coordinator for the Geneseo Park District and promotional team member for the Normal Cornbelters. Allison did her senior internship with the Iowa Sports Foundation, during which time she assisted with planning the Iowa Games Torch Run at Modern Woodmen Park for the 2014 Iowa Summer Games. Hudson is a native of Geneseo, Illinois and holds a bachelor’s degree in recreation management from Illinois State University.
The centerpiece of Modern Woodmen Park – the field – is also under new control with head groundskeeper Andrew Marking taking over for the 2016 season. Marking has gained extensive experience in both the Major Leagues and the top levels of Minor League Baseball and collegiate baseball, working on the playing surfaces of the Texas Rangers, Louisville Bats and Purdue University. His work earned him a spot on the grounds crew for the 2015 MLB All-Star Game, hosted by the Cincinnati Reds. A native of Floyds Knobs, Indiana, Andrew graduated from Purdue University in May 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in turf science. He was also a W.H. Daniel Undergraduate Scholarship recipient and an Eagle Scout.
“We wanted to bring in people who not only have great experience in their respective fields, but also who truly love and appreciate what it means to work in Minor League Baseball,” says River Bandits General Manager Andrew Chesser. “Hiring so many new people was an extensive procedure, but we’re extremely confident that our selection process has yielded a tremendous staff that will continue to serve our fans in the best possible manner each and every game.”
The River Bandits will open their home schedule on Saturday, April 9, at 1:15 p.m. at Modern Woodmen Park. Fans will receive a free 2016 pennant and magnet schedule, courtesy of Mediacom. For ticket information, visit riverbandits.com, call (563) 324-3000 or stop by the box office at Modern Woodmen Park. The River Bandits regular season begins on Thursday, April 7, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa against the Kernels. Fans can join Jake Levy for the radio broadcast, beginning with the Bandits On-Deck Show, at 6:20 p.m. on K-BOB 1170 AM, riverbandits.com and the TuneIn mobile app.