Statesboro Premier Development League franchise President Darin Van Tassell announced today the first three members of the new soccer club’s executive staff — Heidi Jeffers, Becky Davis and Christal Riley.
“Today is just the beginning of a series of watershed moments in the short history of the new franchise,” Van Tassell said. “Having the caliber and experience of Heidi Jeffers leading our front office staff speaks volumes about the mission we are on. Becky and Christal bring an energy and experience level that will be a model of professionalism for our club.”
The Statesboro team will be one of 64 PDL franchises competing in the 2016 season – which ranges from May until August – and will be the first Georgia-based PDL franchise, and the first professional team based in Statesboro.
Jeffers was named vice president of Franchise Develop-ment. Jeffers will oversee the organization’s efforts to promote the team, its name and its players to the public, media and fans. Community relations, attendance, season tickets, corporate partners, broadcast rights and licensing all will fall under her leadership.
Jeffers has more than 25 years working in economic development. She has spent the past five years as executive director of the Statesboro Convention and Visitors Bureau (SCVB).
During her leadership at the SCVB, a new state-of-the-art Regional Visitor Center was constructed through public/private partnerships.
The center was named one of the top 5 visitor centers in Georgia. In 2014, preliminary estimates for tourism spending show a record high of $134,000,000 in Statesboro and Bulloch County – a 25-percent increase in the past three years. Bulloch County now ranks 28th in tourism spending in Georgia. Also, hotels have experienced a record high in gross revenues. If you remove cities in metro Atlanta, Statesboro and Bulloch County move to 21st in the state. Jeffers is currently the president of the Magnolia Midlands Travel Association.
Prior to coming to the SCVB, Jeffers worked as the Screven County Chamber of Commerce executive director, where she managed all aspects of the small business, tourism and retail development programs.
She reinstated the Leadership Screven Program and spearheaded one of the first Economic Development tours that highlighted all aspects of economic development, including retail, commercial, tourism and industrial for the community.
Jeffers served as Director of Economic Development Programs for the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce and she worked closely with the Development Authority of Bulloch County in assisting in day to day duties, budgeting and project and community research. She also worked closely with the development of Gateway II Industrial Park.
“Statesboro becoming a minor league city as part of the PDL is not only huge for our community, but also for the region and the state of Georgia,” Jeffers said. “This team will have an enormous economic impact on our area by attracting visitors and showcasing Statesboro in the international world of soccer.”
Davis was named the director of Franchise Development. In addition to working with Jeffers, Davis will manage all social media campaigns and assist with merging the existing opportunities at The Clubhouse, where the business office for the new soccer team will be located, with the opportunities now afforded by the addition of the newly formed PDL franchise.
Davis has spent the past three years as marketing manager with the CVB in Statesboro, where she worked alongside Jeffers.
Besides managing 10 social media accounts for various tourism outlets, Davis also worked with hotels, restaurants and attractions to promote them to visitors and tourists. Her photography featuring Statesboro has been used in national, state and local publications.
She has more than 20 years of experience in merchandising, retail development and community service.
“I’m thrilled to be a part of this fantastic tourism opportunity for Statesboro and look forward to marketing Georgia’s first PDL Soccer team,” Davis said.
Riley was named director of Game and Team Operations. A native of Cordele, she graduated from Georgia Southern University, where she majored in Tourism & Community Leisure Services.
The former collegiate soccer player at Andrew College, previously worked in game operations for the 2015 Georgia Soccer State Cup Final Four. Riley’s duties with the Statesboro PDL club will involve all game-day management and on-field promotions. She will be responsible for ensuring that ticket managers, security, public address, music, entertainment and all other matters associated with team training sessions and game-day events are structured and executed in a world-class manner.
She is also responsible for coordinating and managing all youth soccer events that will be held at The Clubhouse soccer complex.
"I am excited to be joining the Statesboro PDL franchise,” Riley said. “Great things are happening, and I'm honored to be a part of this team."
“I am elated at today’s big news,” Van Tassell said. “We will announce the new team name, team colors, logos and crest later this month. The announcements regarding the coaching staff and the rest of the front office staff will be made soon thereafter. Great things still await.”
The team currently is conducting a “Name the Team” contest through its newly launched website at www.statesboropdl.com, with the team logo and uniforms to be unveiled following the contest’s completion.
The South Georgia team will begin play in May with the start of the 2016 PDL season. The club will play its inaugural season on the campus of Georgia Southern University. The PDL season features a 14-game schedule with seven home games.