Founder + CEO
Jon has over 25 years of direct experience in the sports tourism industry having held senior leadership roles with three different sports commissions; Phoenix, Tulsa, and Denver. Schmieder brings a wealth of experience in sports tourism and economic development having also served in lead staff positions for the Senior Olympic Games and Pop Warner Football and Cheerleading.
Schmieder twice served as Chairman of the National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC) and was on the organization’s Executive Committee for six years. While Schmieder served as the President of the Phoenix Regional Sports Commission, the NASC chose the organization as the 2012 Large Market Sports Commission of the Year.
Schmieder was named the 2012 CEO of the Year by the Phoenix Chapter of the Organization of Non-Profit Executives. In 2016, Connect Sports honored Schmieder as an industry “Game Changer”.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Arizona. He also holds a master’s degree in higher education leadership from Northern Arizona University.
Eric has 20 + years of experience in sports marketing, including leadership positions with Eat Sleep Breathe Lacrosse, National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and Golf Course Superintendent Assoc. of America (GCSAA). Eric brings with him a deep knowledge of the nonprofit and sports tourism industries through the lens of Rights Holders, National Governing bodies, Sports Commissions, Convention & Visitors Bureaus, and Local Organizing Committees.
Eric has served on various boards nationally and locally including the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Executive Committee, USOPC (United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee) Multi-sport Organization Committee and was instrumental in the formation of the Lacrosse Association of Kansas City. He has been a featured speaker and panel guest at various conferences and institutions regarding sports and event management.
He is a graduate of Missouri State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and resides in St. Louis, Missouri.
Cole served as the manager of Olympic & Paralympic Training Center sport business development for the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee from 2016-2020. In this position, McKeel was in charge of generating outside revenue for the Olympic & Paralympic Training Centers in Colorado Springs, Colo. and Lake Placid, N.Y. Prior to his role with the USOPC, McKeel worked as the marketing and media assistant and diversity and inclusion champion for USA Bobsled & Skeleton. In this role, McKeel was responsible for the company’s partnerships with BMW and Under Armour.
McKeel serves as the Vice President of GoEmpire Group, a professional basketball athlete representation firm in Chicago. In this role, McKeel is responsible for international operations, including client recruiting and relations, as well as ensuring the continued satisfaction of GoEmpire clients. In addition, McKeel is an adjunct professor for the sport and recreation management program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
McKeel was the head manager for the basketball team at the University of Louisville, where he graduated with honors with a bachelor degree in sport administration and minors in business administration, finance and marketing. Upon graduation, McKeel furthered his education at UofL, earning a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in finance.
Whitney’s career experience includes collegiate athletic administration at both the West Coast Conference in Championship operations and marketing and the University of San Diego in event and facility management, compliance, and student services. She has also spent several years in business development, sales, and sales operations in both the staffing and product manufacturing industries.
Whitney holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communications and a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Iowa where she played soccer for the Hawkeyes. She also earned her Master's in Leadership Studies while working in the University of San Diego's athletic department.
Polk’s experience in the sports industry began while serving in various game-day roles within the athletic department while a student at West Virginia University. It was during this time that he also interned for the Greater Morgantown CVB. Upon graduating, Polk continued his work within the sports tourism industry, working at ESPN Wide World of Sports and for USA Baseball.
Prior to joining HUG, Polk spent the last few years as a business development leader for the Hershey Harrisburg Sports and Events Authority. Polk has a strong background in event solicitation and execution and earned his CSEE certification from Sports ETA.
Polk holds a bachelor’s degree in Sport Management from West Virginia University. He also earned his MBA and a master’s degree in Sport Management from West Virginia University.