SAGINAW, MI. – The Saginaw Spirit officially announced Monday changes to the front office staff.
“Like any business, success in sports is all about the quality, work ethic, and character of the people that make up the staff. The Saginaw Spirit has been blessed with great people that together have become like a family. We are grateful to Rick Riffel, Dennis Desrosiers, Charley Porter and Katerina Gombar that have all been very valuable ingredients to the Spirit business success. With that, we are very confident in the new hires that have replaced them as they all have great talent, extensive experience and match the profile of the type of team members that we work hard to bring into the Spirit family.”
After 13 years with the Spirit, Director of Sales and Marketing Rick Riffel has retired. During his time as a valued member of the Spirit Family, Rick Riffel was instrumental in developing multiple long time corporate partnership; Including the Meijer team presenting sponsorship, Nexteer premier partnership, serving rights partnerships with Jet’s Pizza and Koegel, and pouring rights partnerships with Budweiser, Miller, Coors, and Pepsi.
Replacing Riffel is Josh Wheeler, who takes on Riffel’s former role as Director of Sales and Marketing. Wheeler’s previous experience came with John P. O’Sullivan Distributing, where he was an On Premise Sales Manager for nearly nine years. The Bay City native is a graduate of Northwood University with a Bachelors’ in Business Administration. Wheeler also played High School football at Reese High School.
After four seasons as Director of Corporate Partnerships and Social Media, Charley Porter has accepted a similar role in Digital Media with Garber Management Group and will join their team prior to the 2019-20 season. Taking over Social Media for the Hockey Club will be Shelby Saint Souver, whose current role as Ticket and Corporate Sales Account Executive will expand to include certain Media and In-game elements.
The former 2018 Miss Saginaw County is in her third season with the Spirit. Saint Souver will also handle her current role as Ticket & Corporate Sales Executive.
The Spirit has hired Kayla Eisenlord as Director of Community Events and Game Presentation. Eisenlord will assist Game Day Director Mike Elliott on game-day related items on game nights and will be responsible for player and staff appearances at community events throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region and Mid-Michigan.
Eisenlord was hired in September of 2016 as a Game Day Intern and worked in that role until December of 2018, when she was promoted to Promotions Coordinator.
The Spirit has hired Mitzi Zanotti-Brown as Director of Merchandise / Foundation Manager. Zanotti-Brown has worked with various non-profits as a Community Engagement Director, Volunteer Manager, and Fund Developer. She currently serves on two non-profit boards, Perceptions (LGBTQ) Great Lakes Bay Region and Hospitality House (Saginaw).
She also volunteers with the Great Lakes Bay Region Children’s Grief Center, and Pride Festival.
The Spirit have also announced changes to their Television and Radio broadcast team, welcoming dignified radio personality Art Lewis as the team’s Color Commentator on all home broadcasts. Lewis, who had been the team’s Public Address Announcer for numerous years, will turn in the mic for a headset, as he begins his second tenure as Spirit Analyst. Lewis’ career in radio began in 1965 and he is currently part of The Morning Team Show, hosts his own “Art Lewis Show”, and host of “Focus”, all of which can be heard on the flagship station of Spirit Hockey, 100.5 Newsradio WSGW.
The Spirit also introduces Charley Porter as the new host of the television and radio broadcasts for all home games. Porter, who has been the team’s in-arena host for the last two seasons, and served as Director of Corporate Sponsorships and Social Media for the past five years, will host pre and postgame shows, as well as handle intermission duties on the broadcast for all home games.
Joey Battaino returns for his fifth season behind the microphone as the team’s play-by-play voice on Television and Radio. Battaino will fly solo on the road this season, but will be joined periodically by familiar voices on the broadcast. Battaino is scheduled to call his 300th Spirit game this season. Battaino is also the Team’s Director of Communications.