Bill Grace has been volunteering with the Central Florida Sports Commission for several years now. He found out about the CFSC through one of his predecessors, and has been hooked ever since. He started volunteering with PGA and LPGA events, and now continues to give us his best at events like the Horizon League Golf Championships and the NCAA DIII Women’s Golf Championships, both hosted at Mission Inn Resort & Club this year.
“I enjoy watching and playing golf and especially when you see the talent progress from High School, through college and to the Professional Circuit,” said Bill. In the years he has been volunteering, Bill has created a large volunteer group from The Plantation. For many of CFSC’s golf events, he takes on the role of a Volunteer Coordinator Assistant, making sure that all volunteers are on time and ready to work. In the land of volunteers, Bill Grace is an All-Star!
Bill isn’t just active when it comes to volunteering for the CFSC. He also is the chair of the Tennis Association in The Plantation, where 180 active tennis players have numerous tournaments and events throughout the year.
Bill is currently retired and lives with his wife Mary in The Plantation, a 3,000 home gated community. Bill stays active by playing various sports like softball, tennis, pickleball and golf with a group of his friends.
Michael Schwendeman is an all-star volunteer for CFSC and has been volunteering at events since 2006. While searching online, he spotted an advertisement for the Mascot Games and contacted CFSC for more information. After that, he was hooked! Michael has volunteered at many events but his favorite is the FHSAA Football Finals. In fact, he has not missed a game in the eight years that the FHSAA Football Finals has been held in Orlando. Michael says volunteering at high school events is especially important to him, and it’s important to do his job right because the participants have worked so hard to get that far.
“I keep coming back to volunteer with CFSC because they are a great bunch of people and they make volunteering easy and fun,” he said. “They give me an assignment and trust me to get it done the way they want it done. I will continue to volunteer as long as they will have me.” Outside of his work with the Central Florida Sports Commission, Michael has also volunteered at over 40 High School Wrestling tournaments in Orlando and the state of Ohio.
When Michael is not volunteering, he works for the Coca-Cola Company.
Sharon Sharp is a superstar volunteer and has been working with the sports commission for over seven years. While looking for baseball information on the Florida High School Athletic Association web site, she stumbled across a post about the need for volunteers for the state football finals and has been volunteering ever since. Sharon has worked on a variety of events with CFSC, but her favorite event to help with is the very event that got her started, the FHSAA Football Finals. She is a huge football fan and really enjoys interacting with the staff and the media, though her favorite part is watching the players achieve their dreams on the field. She says watching the true emotion from each team, whether it be winning or losing, is priceless.
Volunteering with CFSC has allowed Sharon to interact with a very diverse group of individuals. “Working side by side with the Citrus Bowl staff, the reporters, the FHSAA, and the CFSC staff is what makes it such an enjoyable experience,” she recalls. “So much so that my husband, Dale, is now a volunteer as well.”
When not volunteering, Sharon works as an Application Support Analyst for Sonepar-USA.
At a very young age, Stuart Newark was involved in the hospitality industry. He started working at his father’s hotel, and worked his way up through different companies. His rep sheet in the hospitality industry spans the whole United States. Newmark got his start in the industry as a General Manager and Regional Director of Sales & Marketing for hotels in up north with the Peabody Hotel Group. Here in Orlando, Newmark was the opening General Manager of The Westin Grand Bohemian in Downtown Orlando. Stuart Newmark has helped develop tourism and hospitality in the Orlando area for nearly 15 years. He graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management. UCF just recently honored Newmark with the 2014 Rosen College of Hospitality Management Professional Achievement Award. Currently, Newmark serves as Executive Vice President/COO of Yedla Management Company where he continues to help shape the tourism and hospitality landscape in Central Florida.
Phil Rawlins is a sports industry veteran. Rawlins started off as Director and Owner of Stoke FC, an English Premier League team based out of his hometown of Stoke-on-Trent, UK. After moving to the United States, Rawlins founded the Austin Aztex in Texas in 2008. In 2010, the team was moved to Orlando and renamed the Orlando City Lions. This past year, Orlando City joined Major League Soccer as their twenty-first franchise. Orlando becoming an MLS team made them the second professional team to be based out of Orlando. As President and Owner of Orlando City Soccer, Rawlins is responsible for all aspects of Orlando City’s operations, performance and service. He has received several awards, most recently being honored by MBA Orlando as a Community Champion. Last year, he was voted Orlando’s Downtowner of the Year for his contribution to help develop downtown. He truly is an asset to the Orlando community.
Before the NBA, Tobias Harris, a New York native, committed to the University of Tennessee. As a freshman in 2011, he declared for the NBA Draft, foregoing his final three years of college eligibility. He was then drafted to the Charlotte Bobcats where he bounced from there to the Milwaukee Bucks before finally settling down with the Orlando Magic. Tobias Harris is not just a team player on the court but also in the community. Harris recently donated $50,000 to Orange County Public Schools which will be divided up between three middle schools: Howard Middle School, Nap Ford Community School and the Foundation for Orange County Public Schools. At Howard Middle School, Harris set up a mentoring program for young men and boys. He also hosted a movie night underprivileged youth over the summer. Harris was the Orlando Magic’s ambassador for their NBA Cares & #NBAGiveBIG initiative. It is clear that Harris is not only a great player on the court but an outstanding community member as well.
Twenty five years ago Orlando got an NBA team, all thanks to a man named Jim Hewitt. The sports landscape in Orlando was forever changed when Jim told Pat Williams, the Orlando Magic co-founder, “Orlando is the place to be”. In 1986, Hewitt brought investors together and talked Orlando city officials into approving an arena project, originally called the Orlando Arena. The Orlando Arena was home to the Magic from their inception in 1989 to 2010 when the new Amway Center was built. The Magic were the first ever major-league professional sports franchise in the Orlando area.
Currently, Hewitt is the Director of Hewitt Financial Consulting Inc. Prior to starting his own financial consulting practice, he formed United Heritage Bank in Orlando and served as Chairman until it was bought by Marshall & Ilsley Bank in 2007. Hewitt is still highly involved in the Orlando Magic community.
Joanie Schirm is internationally known for her leadership role in bringing the FIFA World Cup to Orlando in 1994. Serving as the Chairman of Orlando’s World Cup Local Organizing Committee, she was instrumental in the success of what was Orlando’s first major world-wide sporting event. A resident of Orlando since 1982, Joanie spent three decades in the business of engineering, including seventeen at the helm of her own company, Geotechnical & Environmental Consultants. Currently Joanie enjoys being active as a photographer, world traveler, community activist, and sought-after public speaker.
Nick Anderson was the Orlando Magic’s first-ever draft pick in 1989 and played 13 years in the NBA, 10 with Orlando. Born in Chicago, Nick attended the University of Illinois for two years, playing on the team that reached the NCAA Final Four in 1989. As part of his continued commitment to the community, Nick currently serves as a Community Ambassador for the Orlando Magic.
In his 11th year at UCF, George O'Leary has helped the Knights achieve dozens of historic firsts, including games in front of sellout crowds on campus, individual accolades for student-athletes, three conference championships, and victories in prestigious bowl games. The longest-tenured coach in the American Athletic Conference, the veteran football mind has molded his program into a consistent winner on and off of the field. His hard work contributed to the construction of Bright House Networks Stadium, UCF's first two wins over top-10 teams, and their first BCS bowl berth. O'Leary was named The American's Coach of the Year in 2013.