Eric Whiteman, executive director of PA Sports, says there isn’t an activity or event that can’t be hosted in the four-season state.
PA Sports, a state-wide sports tourism organization, is looking to knock it out of the park as a host for international, national, regional and local sports event destination. Leading that effort is Eric Whiteman, a lifelong small-business owner and sports enthusiast, who was hired as the executive director in February 2020.
What drew you to PA Sports?
As a lifelong sports fan, I wanted to promote the state I grew up in as a premier sports event destination. I have a lot of experience with businesses, sales, marketing and events through the businesses I’ve grown in landscaping, contractor work, real estate, hotel sales, food service and event production. This is the first actual position I’ve had where I’ll be working for someone else and that will be a bit of a learning curve for me. I’m passionate about sports and promoting all that PA Sports members have to offer.
What is your favorite sport?
Wrestling. I grew up in an athletic family, though in my opinion my brother and sister were better athletes. I played baseball, football and ran track. Wrestling ended up being my number one favorite. I had an opportunity to wrestle in college but choose to start my own business right after graduating from high school. I coached wrestling at the McKeesport Area School District for five years. Then I helped the Dapper Dan Sports Program build a community wrestling program for the Monroeville Boys & Girls Club. It targeted underprivileged youth, but anyone was welcome.
What tops your to-do list as the new executive director?
One of major things on my to-do list is getting out to each of the 13 member bureaus and seeing in person what each facility has to offer. What makes Pennsylvania special is that it’s a four-season state. Our facilities can host everything from skiing to boating to field hockey, terrain runs, ice sports and more. You name it I don’t think PA doesn’t have a facility that can’t host an event.
The other main goal I have is to serve as the central point of information for all our members. Establishing open, good lines of communication between everybody is important. I want to be the hub by taking the incoming information and delivering it to members and put processes in place that allow or members to put together a cleaner, more beautiful product in whatever we do.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
That I was a DJ for about 11 years. I developed one of the largest entertainment companies in the Pittsburgh area that hosted all types of events, including a two-day beer fest, and I often was at the mic as the DJ.