SPECIAL FEATURE: Awards & Recognition Issue
Foley Sports Tourism Complex
Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports
See Ad On Page 19
Huntsville/Madison County Convention
& Visitors Bureau
See Ad On Page 49
Mobile Sports Authority
Tempe Tourism Office
Conway Convention & Visitors Bureau
See Ad On Page 67
Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau
continued on page 18
2017 Readers' Choice
The organizations and venues listed
below and on the following pages rep-
resent the 2017 class of SportsEvents
Readers' Choice Award winners. These
organizations were nominated by
SportsEvents readers based on a high
standard of professionalism and quality
service in hosting sports events.
Plenty of individuals get bit by the sports bug
when they are young but that typically comes
from playing, not necessarily organizing. Not
so for Valerie Podczasy.
"I actually started with events when I was
16 years old," said Podczasy, who founded Dy-
namic Eventz while still in college. "My mother
worked for the Keystone Volleyball Association
and I was a site director for one of their tourna-
ments and that's how it all started.
"Each year, I got a little more responsibilities
as far as managing an event and tournament.
In 2012, I volunteered with USA Volleyball at
their adult open championships and I got the
opportunity to work with them and learn more
Just like a volleyball rally, once Podczasy
got momentum on her side, there was no
"The next year, I worked
adults again and then I
worked the Girls Junior
which is a huge event for
girls volleyball," Podczasy
said. "In 2014, we started
hosting an event in Mobile,
which I grew from 46 teams
to 95 teams. That's when I
really got working on my
Podczasy organizes three
large volleyball tourna-
ments: Southern Blast AAU Grand Prix in Biloxi,
MS; Rail City Rumble in Johnson City, TN; and
Smoky Mountain Blast in Pigeon Forge, TN.
Podczasy grew up in Pennsylvania and
played at the University of South Alabama. She
graduated in 2013 with a degree in chemical
engineering but has found her love as an event
planner. While living in Alabama, she saw a
need and filled it.
"I discovered there were a lot of areas that
wanted a large volleyball tournament to come
to them but just didn't know how to do that,"
she said. "That's why I started in Mobile, then
moved the volleyball tournament to Biloxi,
to give them a large tournament down there.
From Florida to New Orleans, you really don't
have a large tournament. So those kids can
have a large-tournament experience without
having to drive or fly across country."
Now living in northeastern Tennessee,
Podczasy added tournaments in her neighbor-
hood with the Smoky Mountain Blast and the
Rail City Rumble.
"We have again the event in Pigeon Forge,
and that's close to Gatlinburg where they had
all the fires," she said. "Something that is really
awesome: my officials for that event called
me about a week after the fires and they want
to give back to the community by donating
their pay to the relief effort. That's an exciting
connection we have with the event this year.
I'm really excited to help out. The community
there is just awesome."
Still young and growing, Podczasy sees
potential in her future.
"One of the unique challenges is the way
we do events," she said. "We are always the first
volleyball event they had there. We are always
starting from scratch and looking to build that
long-term relationship with the community
we are working with. We are not a one year
and done. We're looking to create long-term
"I don't see us going to any major city like
Atlanta or Las Vegas. They already have their
major tournaments there. Right now we might
stay with three and grow them. I'd love to grow
these to be on the national scale." n