Kerry Woloszynek with her championship ring

YJ4Ls from a range of academic majors score some big assists throughout the reigning NBA champions' organization as the team chases another title.

Front Office Champs: Alumni in Cavs Organization Rewarded with NBA Title Rings

December 12, 2016

Cavs championship ring for employeesAs the current NBA season approaches the quarter pole, eight Baldwin Wallace University alumni are sporting newly issued 2016 championship rings as they work to help the Cleveland Cavaliers achieve a second NBA title.

While the “BW Cavaliers Eight” combined for zero points and nary a rebound during the 2015-2016 season, they more than made up for that with the number of assists they had in helping the Cavaliers organization achieve its championship goals.

Ray Caraballo ’14: Managing Facilities 

The youngest of the BW alumni in the front office, Caraballo was sport management major and marketing minor at BW and now serves as the facility coordinator of the Cleveland Clinic Courts, the Cavaliers training and practice facility in Independence, Ohio. 

“[I like] being able to make a direct impact on the team from behind the scenes,” Caraballo says. “Having an opportunity to enhance the facility, which in turn, directly affects the team is something I strive on a day-to-day basis. The most special part about my position is the relationship that I am able to have with the team. Whether it is David Griffin, Ty Lue, or the players, they all make me feel like a part of a team. 

Ben Penman ’13: Minding the Budget

Penman, who majored in sport management, keeps an eye on the organization’s budget, ensuring that departments are staying within their means, but also meeting the ever-growing demands of fans.

Emily Thomas ’12: Connecting Cavs and Community

Emily ThomasA BW sport management and public relations double major, Thomas helps the players connect with the community as the team’s community relations manager. She is entering her fifth season with the Cavs having worked her way up from intern to full-time staffer. Thomas is responsible for many of the team’s educational programs and community outreach efforts.

“I enjoy being able to provide children, students and families with opportunities and experiences they would never be able to have without the organization’s programs and efforts.”

Grant Hesselbart ’11: Coaching the Sales Team

Hesselbart, who majored in sport management and minored in marketing and management, is the team’s manager of organizational business development. Essentially, Hesselbart is the “GM and head coach” of the Cavs’ sales team, recruiting and training top talent that focuses on selling various ticket packages.

Nicole Marcellino ’05: Hyping the Fans

Nicole MarcellinoIf you’ve been to a Cavs game, you’ve seen Marcellino’s face on “Q Vision” and heard her voice as the in-arena announcer for the Cavaliers along with co-host Ahmaad Crump. Marcellino, who majored broadcasting and mass communications at BW, has been working for the Cavaliers for 12 seasons, reporting during the pre-game show, interacting with fans, hyping up the crowd and showing love to game day sponsors.

“Whether I'm in the stands, on the sidelines or on the court I sometimes have to pinch myself realizing the unique perspectives I've had in getting to experience winning moments that up until now, Clevelanders have only dreamed about.”

Kerry Woloszynek ’02: Building Wine & Gold Nation

Kerry Woloszynek with her championship ringWoloszynek, who double majored in communications and political science, is the team’s director of fan development and youth. She creates and implements programming that includes the Cavs Wine & Gold Nation, youth basketball and the #AllForOhio campaign. During the recent championship run, she was responsible for the outdoor “fan fests” and watch parties, took the lead on the airport “welcome home” celebration, and played an integral role in Cleveland's huge championship parade and rally.

“The front office and ownership treat everyone the same regardless of title/position. We were a pretty tight staff prior to winning the title, but after the long hours and the emotional highs and lows of a deep championship run, we’re closer than ever. There is a ton of cross-collaboration between marketing, ticket sales, digital, game operations, and all the other departments, so you really have the chance to have a well-rounded knowledge of the entire organization. I’m so grateful to be part of this major historical moment for the franchise and city of Cleveland.”

Hallie Yavitch ’94: Keeping the Q Busy

Quicken Loands Arena in ClevelandYavitch, a dual history and speech communications major at Baldwin Wallace, parlayed her experiences with Playhouse Square and Magic Arts & Entertainment into the role of Cavs' senior director of events. Since 2008, Yavitch has overseen a multitude of events including the Calder Cup, NBA Finals, and the recent Republican National Convention.

“My job is to keep the Q busy,” said Yavitch. “I am responsible for booking concerts, family shows, the MAC Tournament, NCAA events, and Monster Trucks; they all fit under my umbrella.”

Christine Lesko '92: Managing Major Events

Chris LeskoLesko, who majored in business with an emphasis in marketing, is senior director of major events. Lesko has been with the Cavs and Quicken Loans Arena for more than 22 years and has worked on every major event in the building from the NCAA Women’s Final 4 to the Paul McCartney concert. She played a key role in running the Republican National Convention (RNC) as the venue lead with the GOP’s Committee on Arrangements which involved 18 months of preparation and management of every facet of the organization from broadcasting and media relations to make sure the convention ran smoothly.  

“After working for this organization for most of my career, I can honestly say that 2016 was the most gratifying and fulfilling year," she tells us. "Winning the city’s first championship in 52 years and being a part of that emotional roller coaster ride can never be duplicated. Hosting the RNC during the same time frame was a career highlight and I’m proud to have my name associated with hosting a convention that was such a success."

Champions One and All

In the end, all of these Baldwin Wallace alums may not have the height or athletic ability to compete on the NBA hardwood, but their preparation, through a variety of disciplines and both in and out of the classroom, helped them build the skills to compete in an NBA championship front office.