Dallas-based BSN Sports—a division of University Brands and a leading marketer and distributor of sporting goods in the school and league markets—is harnessing the power of female athletes to go beyond their glory on the field to find success in the business world.
That recruiting strategy is paying off by driving sales for BSN, the company says, giving elite athletes a new way to go for the gold as business executives.
“We have done it Has been fortunate to hire talented former female players University Brands and BSN Sports family” Martha May, the university’s chief human resources officer, told Dallas Innovates. “Their approach as athletes helps us meet the needs and requests of our increasingly diverse customer base, while their approach as women brings BSN Sports a competitive edge to better serve women’s and girls’ sports that can unfortunately be overlooked within the team sports industry.
“Their presence — not just on the field, court or pool — has increased the visibility of women’s athletics and increased inclusivity within our organization,” May added.
$1.5 billion in 2022 revenue, and the goal is to become the “Amazon of team sales”.
The success of those former players is also boosting BSN Sports. The company is targeting $1.5 billion in revenue by 2022, and CEO Terry Babila, who led BSN in the acquisition of nearly 100 companies, told D CEO that he has even bigger plans for the company.
“We’ve been able to really scale this business by serving everybody else, like Amazon was able to do — and that’s what I want to be,” Babila told D CEO. “I want to be the Amazon of team sales,”
From an Olympic gold medalist to an SEC Player of the Year and more
To help the company get to where Babila wants it to be, BSN Sports has hired several top athletes as sales representatives for their respective sports. And many have taken the role and run up the corporate ladder with it.
Maria Carlini, a former University of Wisconsin volleyball player and captain of the Canadian Junior National Team, is now in a leading role as Women’s Sports Director for BSN Sports.
Sarah Gholston, a former University of Tennessee swimmer and eight-time All-American, is now BSN’s senior vice president of merchandising.
USA Olympic swimming gold medalist Jessica Hardy Michtry is now a swimming category manager for BSN.
Bharat Chiles (below left during her playing days) is a former University of Tennessee softball player and SEC Player of the Year. She is currently BSN’s national account manager for softball.
Learning to succeed in a ‘male-dominated industry’
Carlini told Dallas Innovates that her success as an athlete has been “helpful” in shaping her career.
She joined BSN Sports in 2010 as a volleyball specialist to grow volleyball sales for the company. She was promoted to director of women’s sports in 2018, and currently oversees a team of category managers in volleyball, basketball and softball.
Carlini says her involvement in sports has given her valuable knowledge about setting goals and taking steps to achieve them. And she has learned the importance of perseverance and overcoming obstacles through her participation in sports.
“Playing has taught me perseverance and how to handle failure,” she said of her playing career. “In our industry, we have external factors that can hinder our success, and being an athlete prepares me to adapt and grow from challenges. I also learned how to succeed in a male-dominated industry and be proud of what it means to be a woman in this space.
50 years after Title IX, female athletes ‘still face an uphill battle’
Carlini noted that 2022 was the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits gender-based discrimination in education programs and activities.
“We were reminded of how far we’ve come as female athletes, but we still have an uphill battle to face,” Carlini said. “I think one of the most important accomplishments in the last few years was the NIL and compensating athletes for their equality. This is especially important for female athletes, because they don’t have the professional opportunities in their sport compared to their male counterparts. College and high school athletes no longer have financial benefits. are able to use their athletic talents for
Support from companies like BSN Sports can also be a big help, he added.
Carlini describes BSN as “a company that strives to support female athletes by providing the best apparel and equipment possible, providing benefits and resources for their female employees to succeed, and improving how we serve our women’s sports. BSN Sports Invested specifically in providing free webinars to female coaches and athletes on important topics to support their growth.”
May, BSN’s C-suite leader for human resources, says this mission is a relentless goal.
“W“We continue to focus our attention and energy on creating an equal and inclusive space for all women,” May told us. We remain committed to lifting up and celebrating their victories.”
Working with Under Armor on the Women’s High School Sports Scholarship Program
For Carlini, one of those triumphs was his work at BSN and the launch of Under Armour Woman of DesireWomen’s High School Sports Scholarship Program.
Carlini called the show “one of the highlights of my career.” Coaches across the country “with performance solutions and a strong women’s athletics support system that allows them to focus on what matters most – changing lives and inspiring the next generation of women to strive for greatness.”
“With more than 300 schools participating, we’re providing an opportunity to celebrate, support and empower our female athletes with benefits like exclusive products, leadership courses, national recognition and community connections,” Carlini said.
“To be able to create a program that has impacted so many female athletes and provide them with these resources continues to motivate me to break down barriers that female athletes may face and provide solutions for their success.”
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