The new director wants the NBC World Series to be important in Wichita

Katie Woods was named the new director of the tournament for the National Baseball Conference World Championships on Thursday.  She is the first female head coach in the tournament's 88-year history.

Katie Woods was named the new director of the tournament for the National Baseball Conference World Championships on Thursday. She is the first female head coach in the tournament’s 88-year history.

teldridge@wichitaeagle.com

The changing of the guard Thursday afternoon at the Wichita Museum of Baseball at Riverfront Stadium as the National Baseball Conference announced a change of leadership.

Katie Woods, who was named CEO of the Year three times during her 13-year career as CEO of Minor League Baseball, has been announced. New NBC World Series Tournament Directorto replace Kevin Jenks, who has held that position since 2014 and is now chairman of the Greater Wichita District Sports Commission.

In her introductory press conference, Woods said her goal is to restore the two-week summer baseball tournament into an “unmissable” event for the Wichita community.

“Everyone I spoke to in Wichita had the story of NBC World,” said Woods, a Washington native. “They remember being a bat boy when Mark McGuire came into town or waiting for autographs from the stars or they were here for a baseball game around the clock when it was 5 a.m. and the lights went out in the seventh inning because the sun was coming up. They remember Charlie or Mike Dean dancing He plays the harmonica.

“Memories of the NBC World Championship are rooted in Wichita and our goal is to bring those memories and many more to the next generation of NBC fans.”

Arguably the most important challenge facing Woods, the first female tournament director and ninth-ever in the tournament’s 88-year history, is creating the long-term home of the NBC World Series, which has been relocating to various locations since the demolition of Lawrence Dumont Stadium in 2018. The tournament was held At IK Stadium in Hutchinson and Wichita State this summer.

Many in the baseball community in Wichita would like to see at least the championship week of the NBC World Championships take place at Riverfront.

While no deal can be reached with the Wichita Wind Surge, the minor league team that controls what is scheduled at the downtown stadium, Jordan Kupritz, CEO of Surge, was open to the possibility of a future deal in 2023. and beyond.

“I think (the healthy relationship between the two) is really important,” said Woods, who served as marketing director for Wind Surge last season. “NBC has been here since 1935 through many affiliated and unaffiliated teams and has always coexisted and thrived even more when they worked together. We look forward to making sure that happens again.”

But that is far from the only thing Woods is focusing on ahead of the upcoming summer championships.

With over a decade of experience in marketing and fan involvement in Minor League Baseball, Woods wants the NBC global series to return to its roots and embrace the Hap Dumont founder’s vision of attracting fans.

“We have this opportunity to enjoy crazy, weird, and funny things,” Woods said. “That’s the legacy of NBC. There’s a strong tradition in baseball, but there’s also an opportunity for us to try something new and fun. We want to make this event something that everyone in Wichita says, ‘I have to go to because they want to be a part of it.'”

That’s a big reason why Jenks thinks he’s found the perfect replacement.

“One of the best pieces of advice I’ve been told is, ‘Hire better people than you,’ and I think that’s what we do with Katie,” Jenks said at the press conference.

“For NBC to advance, develop, and evolve, Katie is the right person because she has a much better understanding than when she took on the job,” Jenks later expands to eagle. “I was more focused on the traditional baseball stuff, and she understands that part, but the difference is today’s players want to know how hard they are throwing and how fast they get out and I can’t understand that because I’m old school. It’s a perfect combination of the two.”

Woods also understands the importance of attracting and highlighting the field of quality in Wichita.

After 10 players who played in this year’s NBC World Championship have been drafted into the first two rounds of the 2022 MLB Draft, she wants to further enhance the talent level in the coming years. This means attracting more teams and better talent from across the country to make the tournament look like a true national stadium with tournament quality again.

“People don’t realize the level of players and the number of future great players who play here in Wichita every summer,” Woods said. “We want to improve the level of competition, whether it’s bringing back international teams or bringing back regional tournaments across the country to make sure we bring in those top-tier talent.”

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