A Homegrown Leader
Scott Spillman takes over as executive director at S.P.O.R.T.S.
Writer: Jon Shoulders
Photographer: Brian Brosmer
As a kid growing up in Fishers and attending Hamilton Southeastern (HSE) schools, Spillman participated in various baseball, soccer and basketball leagues under the umbrella of S.P.O.R.T.S. (Southeastern Program of Recreational Team Sports), a community-based youth athletics organization founded in 1987. At the time he had little expectation that he’d eventually assume the mantle of executive director of that same organization years later.
“I was one of those kids who loved all things sports, even the stats and the history part of it,” Spillman recalls. “From a pretty young age I had a desire for a career in sports. I used to tell my friends and family that I was going to one day be the general manager of the Dallas Cowboys. And as I got older, my appreciation grew for the business side of it.”
While studying sports marketing and management at IU-Bloomington, Spillman landed a few internships with minor league baseball teams, which helped him prepare for marketing and directorial positions in little league baseball and subsequently Hamilton County Sports Authority. During his time in the latter position, he organized a quarterly meeting for all local sports clubs in Hamilton County to discuss best practices and solve problems, and, as a result, developed professional relationships with several local youth sports leaders including former S.P.O.R.T.S. Executive Director Lynda Carlino.
“When Lynda let me know that she was retiring, I thought I might as well throw my name into that hat and see where it takes me,” says Spillman, who officially took over as executive director in December. “It’s really cool that I got to participate as a kid in S.P.O.R.T.S. programs and then later in life come back and be at the helm of the organization that helped me create so many good memories.”
With 12 different leagues and 13 sports including track, volleyball, cheerleading and lacrosse under its umbrella, S.P.O.R.T.S. has been a non-profit entity from day one, founded by volunteer parents and school administrators 30 years ago to pool resources toward more efficient planning and structuring of local youth sports. All participants, from players to coaches to board members, must reside within the HSE school district.
Spillman says S.P.O.R.T.S. had approximately 10,000 registrants in 2017 against about 21,000 HSE school attendees, and he plans to intensify marketing of the organization in an attempt to increase participation.
“We understand not everybody loves sports, and there’s arts and theater and plenty of other activities that kids like to get involved in, but we’d like to up that number,” he says.
Spillman considers it an honor to assume the role formerly occupied by Carlino, who was given the Key to the City of Fishers by Mayor Scott Fadness on December 6 for her dedication to improving HSE youth sports programs. After 18 years with S.P.O.R.T.S., Carlino says she’ll miss working with many of the 2,000-plus annual volunteers who help make each team and league operate smoothly for the kids.
“Some of the volunteers have full-time jobs and then put in an extra 30-40 hours a week helping to make sure everybody’s kid has a place to go to play ball,” says Carlino, who plans to spend more time volunteering after stepping down from the executive director role and currently serves as a board member with the Fishers Youth Assistance Program. “They’re amazing people.”
With the rise in travel-related youth sports leagues, Spillman says promoting the benefits of a locally focused sports organization is more crucial than ever.
“Volunteerism is down across the country, not just in youth sports but in general,” he explains. “We’re seeing more and more people wanting to spend their non-work time on experiences for themselves, so the thought process of giving back to your community is not as top-of-mind as maybe it once was. So I’m going to really work hard on trying to give back to the volunteers and stress that this can be as much a social thing as a community volunteer type of situation.”
For additional info on S.P.O.R.T.S including volunteer opportunities and registration information, visit hsesports.org. S.P.O.R.T.S . is located at 12690 Promise Road or give them a call at 317-845-5582.