UMass Amherst’s Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management Announces Annual Alumni Awards

Eight alumni named recipients of the Alumni on the Rise and Harold J. VanderZwaag Distinguished Alumnus Awards
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AMHERST, Mass. – The Mark H. McCormack department of sport management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Isenberg School of Management has named Andrew George, Victoria Neamonitis, Caitlyn Prandato and Andrew Sherwin as recipients of its Alumni on the Rise Award. Catherine Carlson, Ben Cherington, Richard Lenfest, Jr. and Daryl Jasper are recipients of the Harold J. VanderZwaag Distinguished Alumnus Award.

The Mark H. McCormack department of sport management is one of the few sport management programs housed within a business school. The Alumni on the Rise Award, which was launched in 2013, recognizes alumni who have graduated within the past five to ten years and have demonstrated exceptional achievement within the sport industry while giving back through time and resources to the McCormack department of sport management at Isenberg.

Andrew George has been a rising star since joining the Honda Classic golf tournament in 2009, fresh out of McCormack’s M.S. in sport management program. George helped start the Birdies for Children program, which allows local charities to team up with the Honda Classic and present their donors with a chance to win a new Honda while raising money for its charities. After several years filling in a variety of positions, he worked in sales for about a year and spent the last two years as the director of operations. As tournament director, George oversees the Honda Classic staff and the tournament’s daily operations.

Victoria Neamonitis, a 2012 McCormack graduate, is currently an associate director of sports strategy at Optimum Sports—a division of Omnicom Media Group. Neamonitis joined Optimum Sports in New York City immediately after graduation, where she manages relationships with AT&T, Barclays, and Under Armour. With a focus on sports marketing and media, she advises clients on their overarching sports sponsorship strategy and execution across various properties, from college football to golf. While at UMass, Neamonitis was a Mark. H. McCormack department of sport management ambassador and a member of the UMass Association of Student Sport Managers.

Caitlyn Young Prandato received a degree in finance and marketing from Boston College in 2008 and was a four-year member of the field hockey team. After graduating from B.C., she earned a master's degree in sport management from UMass Amherst in 2010.

Andrew Sherwin is the Senior Director of Business Intelligence & Operations at the Boston Celtics, where he oversees the team’s ticketing, CRM, and data warehouse solutions, providing support to the ticket sales, member experience, finance, sponsorship activation, and marketing departments. Prior to joining the Celtics in 2009, Sherwin had interned with the organization twice, in 2007 and 2008, in the Ticket Operations & Service department.

Since 1993, the department of sport management has awarded the Harold J. VanderZwaag Distinguished Alumnus Award in honor of Dr. VanderZwaag’s unwavering dedication and commitment to the department. Honorees are alumni who display professional excellence, outstanding achievement in the sports industry and dedication to the McCormack department of sport management.

Catherine Carlson, 1998, is the senior vice president of revenue and strategy for the Philadelphia Eagles. She is responsible for driving revenue for the team primarily through new sponsorship, media, and premium opportunities. Carlson also spent 11 seasons working for the Orlando Magic. As SVP of corporate partnerships and premium activation, she was responsible for driving revenue for the Magic, affiliated properties, and events, while also leading efforts to grow the Magic’s corporate sponsor base.

Ben Cherington was named general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2019. In his role, Cherington is responsible for the entire baseball operations department, which includes overseeing the Major League club as well as scouting and player development. The 2020 season marks Cherington’s 22nd year in Major League Baseball. Prior to joining the Pirates, Cherington served the Toronto Blue Jays as vice president of baseball operations. Cherington held the position of executive vice president and general manager of the Boston Red Sox from October 2011 until August 2015. For his efforts in 2013, Cherington was named MLB’s Executive of the Year by both The Sporting News and the Boston chapter of the BBWAA. Cherington has also completed the Boston, New York and Disney Marathons.

Daryl Jasper was promoted to vice president at Learfield IMG College in April 2017. He previously served four years as General Manager for Learfield’s Rhody Sports Properties, representing the URI Rhody Rams. He previously served as executive director of business development for the Thomas M. Ryan Center and URI Athletics. Jasper also worked 14 years with minor league baseball, with roles including vice president of business operations for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and assistant general manager for The Pawtucket Red Sox.

Richard (Dick) Lenfest, Jr. has been the athletic director at Westfield State University since 2005. During his tenure, Owls athletics has been recognized eight times as the Howard C. Smith Cup winner, representing the best overall athletics program in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference. In the summer of 2018, Lenfest was recognized as an Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA). During Lenfest’s tenure, Westfield has added varsity women’s lacrosse, men’s ice hockey, and men’s and women’s golf to its sport offerings. Lenfest has also led fundraising efforts that have helped Westfield State establish its hockey team, improve its baseball and softball fields, rename its track, create endowed funds for track, hockey, and cross country, as well as starting the Owl Club annual and corporate giving programs and Owl Club golf tournament to support athletics. Lenfest is a graduate of the sport management program at UMass Amherst and earned his MBA from American International College, where he also served as assistant athletic director and assistant women’s basketball coach.  Before beginning his career in college athletics, Lenfest worked for ten years in professional baseball as an assistant general manager in the New York Mets system, with stops in Pittsfield, Mass. and Kingsport, Tenn.