Carey Harveycutter, Director of Tourism for the City of Salem, and John Shaner, Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Salem, are recognized by ConnectSports as Game Changers in the sports tourism industry. VBR Sports conducted a Q&A, highlighting what makes them successful!

How did you make the City of Salem, “Virginia’s Championship City?”

Carey: No one really made Salem, Virginia’s Championship City but it just evolved as we hosted more and more championships. With 87 NCAA National Championship events and hundreds of softball and other championship events, it just became a fitting name for Salem. 

John: I really cannot say that I am the one who made the City of Salem, “Virginia’s Championship City” - It happened with all the hard work we have done over 25+ years in sports marketing – I think everyone in the City who has played a part in this has made us “Virginia’s Championship City,” from our great maintenance staff, Street Department, Police and Fire Department, Parks & Recreation staff, Salem Civic Center staff and the GREAT Salem Catering Staff. Carey and I work together a lot and spend a lot of hours together and we are best friends, which you have to be in this field of work – we are a team that has worked together with the NCAA, USA, NSA, USSSA, AAU, ISF, and more for all these years. We are one team and work together for one goal and one goal only – That is for the Student-Athletics, Parents, and Fans, if we do that then we are “Virginia’s Championship City.”

What are your proudest accomplishments thus far? 

Carey: The proudest accomplishment still is the very first Stagg Bowl back in 1993. The thought that we convinced the NCAA to move the game from sunny Florida to Salem was an accomplishment no one envisioned and for that initial game to transform Salem to be such a championship host city is amazing.

John: That is hard – I am proud of everything we do, from a weekend slow-pitch tournament to the USA Girl’s 16U Class A Fast-Pitch National Championship. A few highlights have included:
  a. Hosting the USA Olympic Softball Team 3 times
  b. Hosting the BIG EAST Softball Conference Championship – 2 years
  c. Hosting the Atlantic 10 Softball Conference Championship
  d. Hosting the BIG SOUTH Softball Conference Championship
  e. Hosting the ODAC Softball Conference Championship – 20+ Years
  f. Hosting the Mountain East Softball Conference Championship – 3 years
  h. Hosting the CIAA Softball Conference Championship
  I. Hosting the USA Girls 18U, 16U, 14U, 12U Class A Fast-Pitch National Championship

What do you see as the next big thing for the City of Salem? 

Carey: I think we need to continue to grow what we currently host, look for new and exciting events and work to upgrade our existing facilities.

John: That is another hard question, I think the next big things for the City of Salem in the future will be the renovations to the Moyer Sports Complex and the Kiwanis Baseball Field, and the new turf at Spartan Field. Then we have to stay competitive with all the other communities throughout the United States to keep bringing in great events to Virginia’s Blue Ridge – we have to stay competitive and it is getting harder each year for us to do this. I would also say that in the future, I would love to see us build an indoor basketball and volleyball facility to continue to stay competitive and be more well-rounded.

When you’re not at work, where can we find you?    

Carey: If I am in town, you will find me either at home playing with the puppies or watching westerns, but I am most comfortable and at ease when I am serving at the altar at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. I love my church and enjoy serving both the parish and diocese. This year, I am co-chair of the Diocesan 100th Anniversary and will be working with that quite a bit. Of course, I love train travel and look forward to either riding Amtrak cross-country or returning to Canada to ride ViaRail.

John: That is hard because we work so many hours in a week that we are at work all the time – you have to if you want to be Virginia’s Championship City, but if I am not at work – I am doing things with Kelly and Blake, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, watching football, sitting in a tree stand hunting, in a boat or in the river fishing. I love salt water fishing, I have to be doing things all the time.