Our Team

 

Our BlazeSports multi-disciplinary team is comprised of passionate, motivated and experienced professionals dedicated to providing the highest quality adaptive sports programs.

 

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Cynthia Frisina | Executive Director

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Cynthia is responsible for the strategic direction, growth and overall operations of BlazeSports America, the legacy nonprofit organization of the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games and member of the United States Olympic Committee Multi-Sport Organizational Council. Cynthia has committed her professional career and personal life to improving the lives of people with disabilities through advocacy, education and strategic outreach. She is a champion of bringing the power of sport to children with physical challenges in Georgia, across the U.S. and on a global basis, including recent sports for youth with disabilities projects in Uganda and Brazil.

With nearly three decades of experience in marketing and nonprofit leadership, Cynthia joined BlazeSports Board of Directors in 2013. She began her tenure as Executive Director in 2015 leading the organization in double digit participation growth and adaptive sport program expansion, training and education, and international sport for development and peace. Under Cynthia’s leadership, BlazeSports America was selected as the Rings of Gold Outstanding Sports Program by the United States Olympic Committee in both 2016 and 2017 for Youth and Veteran Sports Programs. Cynthia was named as one of only ten White House Champions of Change in 2016 by the Office of the President of the United States for work advancing sports opportunities for marginalized girls. She currently represents the United States by servings as the USA member of the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CPISRA).

As a result of her work to improve the health and well-being of people with disabilities, Cynthia was awarded the international Cathleen Lyle Murray Award by the American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine, selected as a “Women Making a Mark” honoree by Atlanta Magazine, and honored in 2018 with the “True to Atlanta” Award from Kaiser Permanente.

Prior to BlazeSports, Cynthia was a marketing executive, entrepreneur and “mom on a mission” launching the nonprofit volunteer foundation Reaching for the Stars: A Foundation of Hope for Children with Cerebral Palsy after her youngest daughter was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, in order to change the future of the most common motor disability in children. Her efforts resulted in meaningful improvement in the way Cerebral Palsy is researched, diagnosed, treated and talked about, including the establishment National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day through bi-partisan Congressional agreement.

Because of her advocacy efforts, Cynthia provided public witness testimony before U.S. Congressional Sub-Committees and other institutions. She has championed ground breaking research with a particular focus on neuroplasticity and the value of a therapeutic athletic model for people with physical disabilities.

Cynthia is an ex-officio member of the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine, serves on the Advisory Board of the Columbia University Weinberg Family CP Center, is an External Partner of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Birth Defects and Disabilities Branch. She served as a member of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Effective Health Care Program Issue Exploration Forum for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. She holds a BA from the University of Illinois and Master’s degrees from Northwestern University.

Mara New

Mara Galic, MHSc, RD |Director, Operations & Evaluation

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As the Director of Evaluation and Operations and member of the leadership and management team, Mara oversees BlazeSports’ evaluation and monitoring systems across all programs and product lines, provides program and strategic planning, design and implementation direction and support, serves as lead grant writer and grants manageer, and oversees day-to-day operations.

Before coming to BlazeSports Mara worked at Georgia’s state public health department where she successfully built and managed a five-year, $2.5 million cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) focusing on nutrition, physical activity and obesity prevention across the state and then as a Health Scientist with the CDC specializing in nutrition and obesity prevention among youth focusing on the school environment. Prior to that, Mara has worked in government, community and private sectors in the City of Toronto developing, implementing and evaluating public health programs and policies.

Mara is a registered dietitian and holds a master’s degree in community/public health from the University of Toronto, and Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences from the same.  In her spare time, Mara enjoys gardening, trying new recipes, knitting, and signing up for weekly 5Ks to run (and running it!), but most of all she enjoys playing with her son William.

Todd Liscomb

Todd Liscomb |Director, Youth Programs & Events

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Originally from Manchester, Connecticut, Todd moved to Atlanta in 1995. He comes to BlazeSports America with extensive experience in managing youth programs, event management, fundraising, marketing and building valuable partnerships.

For nine years from 1997-2005, Todd served on the organizing committee and management team that put on a Mardi Gras Ball/Black Tie dinner and silent auction. The event attracted 600 attendees annually and benefited the Atlanta College of Art/ Woodruff Arts Center.

Todd later served as the Director of Events & Marketing for six and a half years at Big Peach Running Co. While there, he founded the Events & Marketing Business Division for what is now one of the most successful retail running store chains in the nation, (currently with seven operating retail stores throughout metro Atlanta). Also while at Big Peach, Todd founded and Directed the Big Peach 5K, Fall 5 Miler and Big Peach Sizzler which attracted a combined total of 4,000 participants annually.

Todd also brings a broad range of partnering and working with non-profit organizations, including Muscular Dystrophy Association, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Chron’s & Colitis and American Lung Association.

Most recently, Todd has worked at Atlanta Track Club as Manager of Youth Running and Kilometer Kids. He has worked diligently to grow the programs over 150% in the past three years, now impacting 150 schools/sites and over 8,000 children in a school year.

Todd earned a Bachelor of Arts in English/Journalism in 1994 from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA where he competed in Cross Country and Track at a Division I level. It was at ODU that he witnessed the power of sport − he “walked on” as a transfer his first year, later earning scholarship his final two years and finishing as a Varsity letter athlete.

Todd is happily married to his wife of three and a half years and has two beautiful step-daughters, Haylie, age 8 and Lindsey, age 11. Todd and Trish recently added another addition to their family as baby Blake arrived in last August!

Sara Thomas

Ashley Fallaize, MS, CARSS, CIFT, AAI | Manager, Training & Education

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Ashley Fallaize is a native Georgian who joins the BlazeSports Team as the Training and Education Manager. In this role, Ashley will oversee the BlazeSports Institute for Adaptive Sports and Recreation which includes our national certification program among other training initiatives. Ashley has extensive experience teaching and coaching adaptive aquatics and has experience with Wheelchair Basketball, Handball and Football. At UGA, she taught classes focusing on wellness for individuals with disabilities including: Introduction to Wellness for Individuals with Disabilities and Basic Adapted Physical Education. She additionally has coordinated the Pediatric Exercise and Motor Development Clinic in Athens for the past 3 years. She is a Certified Disability Sport Specialist II, Certified Adapted Aquatics Instructor, and Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer.

Ashley graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science from Georgia State University and her Master of Science in Kinesiology from the University of Georgia. She is currently completing her PhD in Kinesiology (coaching education and movement studies) at UGA. She is passionate about improving coach education and building the capacity of service providers to provide the best experience for all athletes. In her spare time, Ashley enjoys SUP boarding, swimming, and spending time with family.

 Alicia Arzata

Alicia Arzata  | Accounting Manager

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Alicia joins the BlazeSports Team as Accounting Manager. In her world, numbers are everything.  Alicia’s accounting experience crosses over a variety of industries from banking, construction, and remodeling to the complicated world of nonprofit.  In addition, Alicia is no stranger to red tape having worked as a sales and use tax analyst.  Prior to the simplified accounting software days, Alicia ran her own bookkeeping service.

A mother of two boys, Alicia believes strongly in and understands the impact sports recreation has on youth.  She is a nationally licensed soccer coach and still plays recreationally in her free time.  In the soccer world she has coached, been a board member of her league, and captain of her team.  Alicia also loves spending time with her two granddaughters, two dogs and two cats. Numbers really are everything for Alicia – especially the number “two”.

With her unique background, Alicia is perfect fit for BlazeSports. She brings a lifetime of teamwork, dedication, family values and hard work to the position of Accounting Manager.

Terri Jacobsen

Terri Jacobsen | Marketing & Communications

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Terri is a global marketing and social media expert who has been connecting people and products through evolving marketing channels for over 25 years. Terri has an intimate knowledge of what works (and what doesn’t) in the new marketing landscape from traditional broadcast media and direct mail to digital, social and CRM channels.  She strives to exceed expectations and has a proven track record in getting results with smart, measurable campaigns/programs.

Her marketing philosophy is simple – – it should be used to connect brands, services, organizations to people who are looking for them. She also believes strongly in “focused, meaningful marketing” and that it’s the choices we make based on our focus that determine our success. . .in marketing and in life.

Her father was a Merchant Marine in WWII and often quoted a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, “One ship sails East, And another West, By the self-same winds that blow. ‘Tis the set of the sails, And not the gales, That tells the way we go.” A mantra in her childhood home, Terri believes in the power of our choices and most recently used this philosophy with targeted multi-channel marketing to grow the Home Decorators Collection, a private brand in The Home Depot, to over $1.45B in retail sales. She looks forward to using that same tenacity and skill set to help grow awareness and support for BlazeSports!

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Errol McKnight |Veterans Outreach

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Errol, born in Trinidad and raised on the island of Saint Croix, first got involved with BlazeSports as an athlete at a veteran archery clinic. Since then he started competing in re-curve archery and has also gotten involved in other BlazeSports programs. He joined our team as our veteran programs intern and is now responsible for outreach, program administration and assisting at programs.

Errol has proudly served in the Army National Guard, U.S. Army, Air National Guard, and U.S. Air Force for over 20 years. He enjoys working with veterans and has dedicated his life to servitude. He wants to help other veterans find their purpose and passion like archery has done for him.

In Errol’s spare time he flies large scale remote control aircrafts, rides his motorcycle and of course shoots archery. His favorite quote is “Some people make it. Some people make it happen!”

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Fred Lamback |Head Swim Coach 

Fred Lamback began coaching to support his son Lantz, who has cerebral palsy. Lantz took up swimming (after deciding that baseball was not for him) and entered into swim meets against able-bodied swimmers. Every step of the way he was encouraged by his dad. His dad heard about an opportunity for swimmers with a disability and decided to drive his son to a disability swim clinic taking place in Warm Springs, Georgia. Lantz was immediately targeted as having a natural talent. Fred drove his son across the country to compete in disability swim meets and when Lantz won all seven events at the National Championships, he was immediately targeted for bigger things. Lantz, coached by has dad, went on to compete in three separate Paralympic games winning a bronze and two gold medals.

From his introduction to adapted swimming through his son, Fred became involved with BlazeSports.  For the past 12 years Fred has coached swimmers of all abilities and served on the 2004 Paralympic Staff. The results of Fred’s swimmers speak for themselves. He has coached countless swimmers to national level and multiple Paralympians including Bradley Snyder, who achieved Paralympic Gold one year after being blinded by an IED in active duty.

Mara New

Eric Johnson  |Head Wheelchair Basketball Coach

Coach Eric Johnson comes to BlazeSports with over 30 years of coaching experience in football, track and field, and basketball. In addition to his coaching knowledge, Eric brings to the table a background in strength and conditioning training for both beginner and elite athletes. Eric runs his own Strength and Conditioning training company providing expertise to a range of athletes from high school and college players looking to elevate their game to professional athletes needing to stay in top shape during the off season.

Eric is also currently the Recreation Services Manager at Georgia State University – Decatur Campus. His passion is helping children achieve personal life success using sport as a platform. He believes that all children should have the opportunity to experience what it means to be a part of a team and learn the life lesson that comes with participating in sport.

 Pat Bowen

Pat Bowen |Head Youth Archery Coach

Pat Bowen joined the team in August 2015 as the Girls With Bows archery instructor. Pat is a long time supporter of BlazeSports and adaptive athlete herself. Pat grew up playing wheelchair basketball and participating in track and field. She then went on to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a member of their collegiate track program. Being a distance athlete, Coach Pat has participated in marathons around the country.

Post graduation, Pat moved back to Marietta and now works for Cobb County Schools. She has taken to archery and is now a USA Archery Certified Level I instructor and coaches and competes with Kennesaw Archery. Pat was also a recent Triumph of the Human Spirit Awards nominee.

Chris Tackett

Chris Tackett |Head Veteran Archery Coach

Chris has been a supporter of BlazeSports for years, volunteering with the Dixie Games archery division. When the veteran archery coach position became available we knew just who to call. Coach Tackett is a USA Archery Level III Instructor and currently coaches and competes with Kennesaw Archery. He brings extensive knowledge in adaptive archery to the program and a passion for working with veterans.

Head Veteran's Adaptive Golf Coach

Dave Windsor |Head Veteran Golf Coach

David Windsor is an award-winning PGA of America Teaching Professional with over 25 years’ experience. David is considered one of the country’s foremost experts in teaching physically/cognitively challenged, or as we say, “Adaptive Golfers.” Since 1999, he has instructed adaptive golf classes on a weekly basis for challenged juniors, adults, disabled-injured Veterans and Military.  David co-founded Tampa’s “Every Friday” Adaptive Golf program in collaboration with the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital to serve in-patients and out-patients in recovery and transition on a weekly basis.
With recognition through seven PGA Section awards (North Florida and Georgia PGA), to include: “Junior Golf Leader” in 2006 and 2010, “Teacher of the Year” in 2008 and the “Patriot Award” in 2011, 2014-2016, David was selected as the PGA of America’s National Patriot Award recipient in 2015.  This award was given for his unwavering Patriotic contributions and dedication to disabled Veterans, injured Military and family members from World War II to Iraq/Afghanistan era conflicts.

His Adaptive Golf Academy has become the coach training entity for the Adaptive Golf Association, Georgia State Golf Association and the PGA of America’s HOPE “Helping Our Patriots Everywhere” program initiative which has implemented over 50 programs across the country.