While many in the industry associate the 2017 Connect Sports Game Changer with her hard work in Richmond, Virginia, Vincenti was born in State College, Pennsylvania. Her family moved from State College when she was just little Danielle Strawberry Fields (still her legal name), but Vincenti’s father did on-campus work that led the family back there many a summer. It’s debatable whether there’s more blood than ice cream from Penn State Berkey Creamery running in Vincenti’s veins.
“I think that’s one of the top attractions in the destination,” she knowledgeably says of the creamery. Not long ago, a customer in front of Vincenti had ice cream from there shipped to Iowa, she recalls.
While Vincenti’s background makes her new job, which began in January 2020, a natural fit, the move was a surprise to even her.
For one thing, Vincenti didn’t have to relocate her family for the job. After a decade in Richmond, she moved in 2018 back to her home state to be closer to family. She was happy as destination sales manager at the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation and Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau near her hometown. That position was akin to working for a start-up and came with many thrills associated with building a program from scratch.
Late last year, Vincenti met one of the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau’s new sales representatives at a conference. They had a conversation about the open sports position, but Vincenti maintained she could not move again relocating near Cumberland, about two hours from State College. The board was so enamored with Vincenti, it moved for her—changing its mind on insisting the new hire live on-site.
“Danielle has an exceptional background and reputation in the sports marketing industry. We are excited to welcome her,” says Dave Gerdes, HVAB vice president of sales and marketing.
Instead of introducing a new market to groups, Vincenti (who commutes in a few times per month) is now selling a region synonymous with sports. Penn State football unites a state divided between Eagles and Steelers fans—a fact reinforced by Happy Valley’s central location.
In October 2019, Central Pennsylvania CVB changed its name to Happy Valley Adventure Bureau to place the college at the forefront while refreshing the brand. “Our CEO is trying to break up the pack,” Vincenti says. “There is a sea of sameness we were trapped in. We’re trying to do things differently.”
While football is king and women’s volleyball is queen in the area, the region is expanding its repertoire with two new hardcourt facilities (a combined 100,000 square feet of playing area) near Penn State. “That’s something the region has never had,” she said.
It comes at a good time—Penn State is having one of its best years in basketball.
The college provides world-class facilities, as well, and the games serve as a great selling point for Vincenti. While the hotels are far too booked on football weekends to consider a concurrent tournament, State College’s array of hotels, restaurants and retail are the same sort of amenities youth sports planners will want. Plus, there is the creamery.
“This position is really great timing,” she says.