A few years after receiving her degree from Thomas Nelson, Lauren Hall turned to her alma mater for assistance in the job it helped her land.
Hall, who earned her associate degree in business administration from Thomas Nelson in 2016, is the tournament coordinator for the LPGA Tour’s Pure Silk Championship at Kingsmill.
While her main responsibilities are volunteers, ticket sales and players, she helped solve a parking problem that arose when the event was scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, a few weeks later than usual. With it being a busy time in Williamsburg (Busch Gardens and Water Country are both open), she knew parking for the women’s pro golf tournament would be a challenge. She thought the College’s Historic Triangle campus would be a good site for spectator parking.
“I took most of my classes at that campus, so it came to mind from where can we look that has a lot of parking, a place where it’s not a field, and it has marked spots,” she said. “Thomas Nelson came to mind because I have spent a lot of time there.”
Tournament officials reached out to Thomas Nelson, and now the latter’s 700-spot parking lot on Opportunity Way in Williamsburg will be used for spectator parking the weekend of the tournament.
“It has been a huge help to us,” Hall said. “It’s taken a weight off our shoulders.”
Tournament officials expect about 60,000 spectators for the seven days of the event. The tournament itself runs Thursday-Sunday, with pro-ams and practice rounds beginning Monday.
While working on her associate degree at Thomas Nelson, Hall also interned at the tournament for two years.
“It allowed me to gain a lot of experience here and, ultimately, led me to this job,” she said.
This is her third year as the tournament coordinator, but no two years are the same.
“Every year there’s something new and different,” she said. “Whether it’s the weather or things that pop up, you have to deal with it.”
She said she enjoys having an entire year to plan the event.
“You have the time to think through all of the new things to do, but you basically get one shot at it a year,” she said. “It’s not like a series of events you plan every couple of months.”
Even with all that time to prepare, it takes a lot of teamwork and effort. She’s one of just three full-time employees who work on the tournament year-round, so she’s really appreciative of the College’s help.
“Thomas Nelson’s willingness to support our event with all the parking spots we need is fantastic,” she said. “I think it will be great to work together.”
And she hopes the partnership continues past this year.
“I’d love to work more in the future with community college students because I think it would be a great learning experience,” she said.
For the College, teaming with the LPGA Tour provides increased exposure as the Historic Triangle campus will celebrate its 10th anniversary during the 2019-20 academic year. There will be advertisements on Kingsmill social media platforms as well as digital ads on the course. In addition, all the LPGA players will receive a Thomas Nelson T-shirt as part of a goody bag. The timing couldn’t be better, according to Alicia Riley, the special events manager at the College, who worked with Hall to secure visual marketing at the event.
“It’s our first visual advertisement of the 10th anniversary on an international scope and this is the first time a college has been a sponsor,” she said.
But the connections between the event and College don’t end there. Landon Stulen, a marketing manager at Kingsmill, attended Thomas Nelson from 2011-13. He says he’s “not heavily involved” in the event during tournament week, but he oversees the majority of the digital marketing at the resort and does creative work for the tournament.
“They reach out to us for different things,” he said, adding his team already is working on next year’s event. “We’re gathering collateral pieces for our website to produce for the tournament for 2020.”
He was grateful for the opportunity he was afforded at the College.
“I had some really great business professors at Thomas Nelson that really helped me,” he said. “It really solidified what I wanted to do.”
He earned a bachelor’s in marketing (product and brand management) from VCU in December 2016, and joined Kingsmill about six months ago.
“The push I got from my professors (at Thomas Nelson) really helped put me on the right path,” he said.
So while there might not be any Thomas Nelson alums on the LPGA Tour, the College will have a big presence at this year’s tournament.