(l-r) US Squash CEO Kevin Klipstein, USOC Chief Marketing Office Lisa Baird, and PSA board member Ashley Bernhard.

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The first US Squash Summit ‘boasted’ an opening keynote address Thursday by USOC Chief Marketing Officer Lisa Baird, whose $800 million in sponsorship deals for Team USA got the attention of the packed audience.

The Squash Summit was scheduled in conjunction with the Delaware Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships at Drexel University to provide a forum to exchange best practices in the industry and to learn from leaders in sports management and marketing.

As the national governing body of the sport, US Squash is a member of the USOC.

“We are proud of Team USA and our affiliation with the USOC, ” said US Squash President and CEO Kevin Klipstein. “As the USOC has raised the profile of Team USA as the major fan brand in the United States, US Squash has also seen a significant increase in participation and performance by our national teams.”

Before joining the USOC in 2009, Baird held senior marketing positions at Fortune 500 companies including Proctor and Gamble, Warner Lambert, GM, and IBM, and the NFL.

She brought a fresh viewpoint to the then-struggling USOC, and she quickly and effectively began to rebuild.

“Through my experience working with the NFL, I saw firsthand the power of sports as a platform for change, ” she said. “Keeping the Saints in New Orleans after Katrina also opened my eyes to how a well-run organization can achieve a goal.”

Baird explained that the USOC is completely privately funded, presenting many different challenges than those faced by virtually all other national Olympic bodies that receive government funding.

“Our mission is to provide services to athletes to support their training individually, as Team USA members in their respective sports, and by staging Olympic camps, trials, national championships, and World Championships, ” she explained.

Also cognizant that the NFL, NBA, and MLB are her direct competitors, Baird realized that the Olympic brand could transcend the seasonality and local branding of the team sports.

“I am passionate about what the Olympic brand should mean to marketers whose goal is to sell their own products, ” she said. “The Team USA brand must be the most effective, smart and valuable sports brand to be attractive to our partners.”

Today the USOC has thirty-five sponsor partners, including Coca Cola for the past eighty-six years and Hershey, a recent addition to the USOC family.

Most important are media partnerships with NBC (the agreement extends to 2032) and a digital network that is Baird’s latest undertaking—to control exposure between Olympic Games.

“Just as the USOC is privately funded, US Squash is also privately funded, ” said Klipstein. “Our U.S. team won an unprecedented number of medals at the recent Pan Am Games because we have worked hard to provide a viable pathway and opportunities for players to pursue their dreams.”

“With the advent of HD broadcasting for the Delaware Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships, which are distributed globally, we are following in the USOC footsteps to become an effective marketing partner, which is a win-win for everyone, ” concluded Klipstein.