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. As a successful marketing, fund development and nonprofit professional, Cynthia has committed her professional career and personal life to improving the lives of others through advocacy, education and strategic outreach. Cynthia spent more than 25 years as an award-winning marketing professional for Fortune 500 companies, biotech companies, global healthcare and technology startups.  After Cynthia’s youngest daughter was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, she launched the nonprofit foundation “Reaching for the Stars. A Foundation of Hope for Children with Cerebral Palsy” in 2005 in order to change the future of the most common motor disability in children. In a few short years “Reaching for the Stars” rapidly grew into the largest pediatric nonprofit cerebral palsy foundation in the world with presence in the U.S., Canada, Asia and Australia helping to create meaningful change in the way Cerebral Palsy is researched, diagnosed and treated.  Cynthia was also the CEO and founder of two high growth marketing consulting companies focusing in the healthcare, technology and digital marketing sectors and served on the BlazeSports Board of Directors before assuming the position of Executive Director because of her passion for the BlazeSports mission and belief in how lives can be changed through the power of sport for people of all physical abilities.

Cynthia is known as a worldwide expert on disability advocacy and family education on a U.S. and international level. She is recognized for excellence in brand building, marketing strategy, fund development and strategic alliances. Cynthia was awarded the international Cathleen Lyle Murray Award by the American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine for her tireless work on behalf of people with disabilities. She has co-authored numerous articles, publications and curriculum content, and has presented many instructional courses, educational conferences and workshops for families impacted by physical disabilities and clinicians on several different continents. Cynthia was the first to establish a U.S. National Awareness Day for Cerebral Palsy through bi-partisan Congressional agreement and has been a champion of bringing the power of sport to children with physical challenges on a global basis.Read more»

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Mara Galic, MHSc, RD |Director of Operations and 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.

 

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Teri Hernandez |Director of Finance

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Teri recently joined BlazeSports as the Director of Finance. As an integral member of the leadership and management team, Teri manages the finance and accounting operations of BlazeSports including financial management, grants management and other funding. For ten years, Teri worked as a bankruptcy consultant CPA independently and for Arthur Andersen in Tampa and New York City. While raising her three children, she has served in myriad leadership and management roles in the voluntary sector including Regional Director of the University of Florida Alumni Association, President of National Charity League – Roswell Alpharetta Chapter, Vice President of Patronesses, Chairman of the Autrey Mill Middle School’s Local School Advisory Council, Board Member for Wesleyan School Wolf Trackers Wilson Creek Elementary School’s PTA and the chaired the school’s Local School Advisory Council (2004-2010). She formed the Wilson Creek Elementary School Foundation in 2008, served on Naming committee for Wilson Creek Elementary School and chaired the PTA formation committee in 2004. Teri earned a Bachelor of Science in Marketing in 1982 from the University of Florida and her Accounting Degree from University of South Florida in 1984. Teri and her husband Gus live in a suburb of Atlanta and have three children with whom she has seen first hand experience the power and benefits of sport. Teri loves to play tennis, volunteer and spend time with family and friends. She loves anything having to do with the University of Florida and the Gators.

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Felipe Rodrigues, MS |Director, Adaptive Sports and Recreation Programs

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Felipe comes to BlazeSports America with a wealth of knowledge in sport development and sports governance as well as professional and collegiate sports. As Director of Adaptive Sport and Recreation programs, Felipe has oversight of the development and implementation of sport and recreation programs in the U.S. and Internationally. Read more»

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Jessie Romito |Manager, Youth Adaptive Sport and Recreation Programs

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Jessie is responsible for the management and implementation of youth programs at BlazeSports America which includes our rapidly expanding Wheelchair Basketball program, Adaptive Swimming program, Track and Field program and Girls With Bows Archery program. In addition, Jessie is integral to new program development and her aim is to bring new and exciting opportunities to youth in Georgia. She brings to BlazeSports 8 years of experience in sport facility and event management, staff management, and a Level I Boccia coaching certification.  Jessie has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Management from the State University of New York at Brockport.  

 

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Erika Mueller |Manager, International Programs

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Erika joins BlazeSports America as Manager for International Programs and brings to the team a significant background and experience in International Sports Development.  Erika graduated from Brown University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Ethnic Studies. During her university years Erika found a passion for sport for social inclusion and traveled to South Africa where she worked for the Football Foundation of South Africa as a Project Coordinator.  In this role Erika was responsible for the planning and coordination of the Gansbaai Youth Sport Development Program which addressed social issues such as racial integration, inclusion of people with disabilities and female empowerment. 

Furthermore, as Executive Director of Sports Symposium Inc., a non profit that promotes the development of young leaders through accessible sports business education, Erika was responsible for the strategic planning and daily operations and also the oversight of four volunteer committees that included university students, emerging sports business leaders and established industry professionals. 

Through her International travel and work experience in Australia, the United Kingdom and South Africa, Erika has been able to bring her passion for sports (herself a Captain of the Varsity Softball team) and sport for development to life and looks forward to making an impact on the lives of others around the world through BlazeSports International Sport Programs.

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Kit McCluskey |Program Specialist

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Kit joins the BlazeSports team as a Program Specialist in our Sport and Community Department. She found her passion for adaptive sports after she interned with Blaze in the fall of 2012. She is responsible for organizing and implementing our sport and recreation programs, as well as, leading adaptive sport sessions for local organizations and camps. Besides programming, she is also responsible for the coordination of special events throughout the year.

Kit graduated from Springfield College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Management. During her time at Springfield, she worked for the school’s athletic department and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. She is a Certified Disability Sports Specialist and a certified boccia coach.

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Maggie Frederick |Office Manager / Sport Specialist

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Maggie Frederick is our Office Manager and a Sport Specialist here at BlazeSports. She a graduated from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.  Maggie was offered a track scholarship and competed for 5 years while studying Speech and Hearing Science. During her free time, Maggie likes to spend time with family and friends, CrossFit, and try anything new. Maggie’s favorite personal quote is “You can do anything you set your mind to”. 

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Errol McKnight |Intern, Veteran Programs

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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 joins our team as our veteran programs intern where he will be 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 GA.  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 7 events at the National Championships, he was immediately targeted for bigger things.      Lantz, coached by has dad, went on to compete in 3 separate Paralympic games winning a bronze and 2 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 1 year after being blinded by an IED in active duty.  

 

 

 

Eric Johnson |Head Wheelchair Basketball Coach

Coach Eric Johnson comes to BlazeSports with over 30 years of coaching experience in football, track & field, and basketball.  In addition to his coaching knowledge, Eric brings to the table a background in strength & conditioning training for both beginner and elite athletes.  Eric runs his own Strength & 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 Running Backs Coach at Holy Innocents Episcopal School for their varsity team.  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.

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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 & Field. She then went on to the University of Illinois 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.

 

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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.

 
 

Because of her effective advocacy work, Cynthia has been invited to testify and provide public witness testimony before U.S. Congressional Sub-Committees on multiple occasions on behalf of families impacted by physical disabilities and cerebral palsy. She has championed ground breaking scientific research and clinical trials with leading medical institutions and researchers around the world with a particular focus on neuroplasticity and the value of the athletic model for people with physical disabilities. Cynthia has been a frequently invited presenter and speaker at the National Institutes of Health, National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine, CP Alliance of Australia, Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy and many research institutions and universities including University of Michigan, University of Massachusetts, Washington University  Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Cynthia is an ex-officio member of the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine, serves as an External Partner of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Birth Defects and Disabilities Branch.  She is 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 and serves on the Global Review Panel for World CP Day.  Cynthia is the recipient of many awards for her marketing work and service on behalf of people with disabilities.  She is a published author and sought after speaker on a variety of nonprofit, marketing, advocacy topics.  She holds a BA from the University of Illinois and a Masters in Business Administration and Masters in English from Northwestern University.

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Felipe grew up actively involved in sports at a young age. His father worked with the Brazilian Basketball Federation for over a decade, influencing Felipe’s desire for a fulfilling career in sport management. He himself worked for the Brazilian Basketball Federation for over five years managing the day to day operations and activities of various basketball teams. His experience also extends to major sport events like the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio and the High School Olympics events organized by the Brazilian Olympic Committee. He has also worked with USA Basketball during events in Brazil as well as in the United States. Felipe has also served as the director of basketball at Ability Sports Agency, where he helped found the basketball athlete recruitment program. He developed a keen interest for Paralympic sports when his home city, Rio de Janeiro, was selected to host the 2007 Pan-American Games. His interest grew once Rio de Janeiro was again selected to host the Olympics in 2016 and he started pursuing a career in the field.

Felipe graduated from Kennesaw State University with a Master’s Degree in Conflict Management and a Bachelor’s degree in Sport Management from the same.  A native of Brazil, Felipe is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish. Felipe believes in opportunity for all and that sport can be used as a tool for development and inclusion.

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