Spotlight: Donald Engstrom, Executive Director at DeBartolo Sports & Events


Friday Night Lights (I’m talking about the TV show, not the movie… duh) was a must-watch for a lot of people for the past years, and many (including myself… maybe) shed a tear during the season finale. Remember when Riggins skips practice because he thought it was cancelled, and Coach Taylor puts him in hell for it? Donald Engstrom, the Executive Director at DeBartolo Sports & Events shared a few tips with us on how he simplified communication.

DeBartolo Sports University, a subdivision of DeBartolo Sports & Events, is an amateur sports education organization. DSU was founded by former San Francisco 49ers owner, Edward DeBartolo Jr., and focuses on bringing young talent to the forefront by offering developmental programs as well as coaching & mentoring from Pro’s.


As the Executive Director, Donald is well aware of all the planning that goes into such events, but in his opinion, the execution & communication during these events is almost more important than the planning. One item that was a constant problem for him? Communication with the athletes. “Our events involve large groups of people - mostly High School & University age audiences. You’re lucky if they get the email, let alone consider reading it. If you call them, they won’t pick up since they don’t know the number.” he says. “But the response rate for text messages is amazing. It’s an instant call to action, and most of the recipients respond right away.”


A recent announcement, for the ‘Holiday Quarterback Academy’ called to action every HS football coach in Tampa. Yeah - that’s a lot. It gets better: each of the coaches submitted a list of eligible athletes who could participate in the event, and using SendHub, DSU contacted them all with an invite to participate. “Reply HQA to participate” was the call to action. “It’s the best way to communicate with large groups of people! Within 24 hours we had a dozen signups, which is quite a lot for such a short time period and it being summer…”, says Donald. “SendHub is also incredibly easy to manage. With 300+ participants, we’re still able to have only one person manage the account, and have multiple conversations going at once… it’s great!

Fav tech gadget: iPod nano (I’m training for a marathon and tracking my runs is awesome!)

Fav part of SendHub: reliability & the ease of management

Fav type of event to attend: Nebraska Football games

Worst prank call: Dealing with high school athletes one could only imagine some of the shenanigans that we experience leading up-to, during, and after events.  I’ll save some of those stories for another time… :-) However, the best prank that was ever pulled on me wasn’t actually a phone call or SMS Message but rather it was on a tour of Boston that was being given by my future sister-in-law.  She was telling a long story about Paul Revere and a golden carrot that could be found in Boston and is symbolic of the famous “Midnight Ride” that alerted colonial militias of the British invasion.  She led us on a long scavenger hunt to find this non-existent “golden carrot”.  It wasn’t until she attempted to convince us that Paul Revere’s horse was named Hilton and was the basis for the famous Hotel brand that we figured out her entire story was a scam.


To learn more about DeBartolo Sports, or Donald, you can check out their website, and follow him. We hope you enjoyed our Spotlight, and if you (or your company) want to be featured, send us a txt or email and tell us how YOU use SendHub :)

Garrett & the SendHub Team

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