Industry Impact Award

Sal Farruggia
Owner of LI-Kick 

Sal's unwavering energy, innovative approach, and remarkable willingness to share his knowledge and expertise with clubs of all sizes are truly outstanding. His dedication has not only elevated his own endeavours but has also had a profound and positive impact on the industry as a whole. He set up the EOS consortium to allow multiple clubs to enjoy the benefits of the EOS system for a fraction of the cost. He spearheads the monthly calls with our coach as well as amongst club directors. He also sets up additional meetings with just the cohort members for us to do a deep dive into the topics we discussed in our previous meetings. It has been a great way to share ideas while improving our respective businesses.

Jimmy Walicek

Let this award recognize Jimmy's contribution to turning local rec kickball into a nationwide brand. Since 1998, WAKA has raised the national profile of adult kickball through their expansion, reach and brand awareness. 26 years businesses attests to WAKA's longevity and adaptability. Currently, their tournaments draw a large cross-country swarth to the travel kickball vacation experience and are recognized as nationwide leader of travel play. Jimmy's origin-story has inspired other entrepreneurs to follow their dreams and embark on their own journey in social sports, simply because they wanted to meet people and make friends.

Nikki "Nash" Hartel
Director of Sponsorship and Partnerships at Chicago SSC

Nikki has continued to drive the sponsorship and marketing committee to new levels! She created awareness and helped develop the SSIA's membership in the Sponsorship Marketing Association, which gives member clubs access to great information about sponsorships, along with creating a fund to provide scholarships to individuals that wanted to attend the SMA annual conference in Chicago.

In addition, she is the driving force behind our current RFP to get an updated sponsorship market evaluation, along with training sessions for clubs, so that we can all grow our sponsorship opportunities, outreach, and development.

Shawn Madden
Ambassador of Fun at Underdog Sports Leagues

Shawn’s impact can be seen across several facets of the industry. His efforts to bring in SSIA partners Bell-Anderson, Baden and Gravity Payments have saved member clubs untold amounts over the years. Shawn also started the league management platform League Lab, which is widely used throughout the industry. Additionally, he shared his knowledge on the art of refereeing in writing the book “The Social Ref” to help clubs in training their game officials.

There is no doubt that the Sport and Social Industry would be a much different place without Shawn.

Brittany Rheault
COO of United Fray

Brittany Rheault was recently awarded an LGBTQ+ Business Award from the Washington Business Journal, which honored Greater Washington companies and business leaders for outstanding practices in advancing LGBTQ+ leadership and equality. This has been a culmination of Brittany's visionary work in this area, which continues day in and day out.

She has grown Fray’s LGBTQ+ footprint in all three of our markets — Jacksonville, Florida, Phoenix, Arizona and especially D.C. — to include a range of sports leagues specific to the LGBTQ+ community. She has also supported the rapid growth of events in all three markets with an LGBTQ+ focus, including several series of LGBTQ+ singles mixers to encourage a way for locals to find connection.

Here are a few of the countless examples that together amount to the incredible impact she’s made for Fray’s LGBTQ+ players and audience, and for the entire LGBTQ+ community in Fray’s three markets:

  • Hiring leadership on Fray’s sports team who champion the importance of proper use of pronouns and other workplace efforts that make Fray a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community
  • Working with Phoenix’s only lesbian bar to launch an LGBTQ+ cornhole league that has brought significantly more business to the space and created a new opportunity for LGBTQ+ locals to gather and meet one another
  • Supporting the opening and continued success of D.C.’s first queer-focused gathering place, As You Are, from running leagues and events at the bar to fostering relationships with ownership to promote their community building on our media side.

Within SSIA, Brittany has also served on the DEI Committee for four years. United Fray would not have the sterling reputation it does today for its inclusive, diverse and community-oriented sports leagues, events and content without Brittany’s commitment to ensuring the company’s leadership prioritizes these initiatives to create safe spaces for having fun, for both the LGBTQ+ community and the entire community in Fray’s three markets.

Tracey Giebner
President & Owner of Club Sport

Tracey was an extremely helpful asset and resource in how to add youth sports to your offerings. While there has been a conference seminar about it, she is always willing to help answer questions on everything from promotions, grassroots marketing and partnerships, to how to run the leagues themselves. Club Sport Kids is a model we admire, and was impactful in the creation of our leagues.