Director of Special Events, Tampa Bay Sports Commission
On July 30, 2012 Claire Lessinger joined the Tampa Bay Sports Commission (TBSC) as the Sales and Events Manager. In October of 2015, Claire was promoted to the Director of Special Events. The TBSC is a private, non-profit, 501c3, charitable corporation that serves the entire Tampa Bay area as the lead organization for bidding on and hosting premiere sports and entertainment events.
Lessinger and the TBSC are responsible for driving economic and social impact by identifying, bidding on, and ultimately hosting sporting and entertainment events in Tampa Bay. In 2016, Tampa Bay played host to the NCAA Men’s Frozen Four and in 2015, the NCAA D.II Women’s Volleyball Championship and the NCAA Women’s Final Four where Lessinger served as the Tournament Manager for all three. As the event’s point guard, Lessinger was the liaison to the NCAA staff and managed day-to-day operations for the Tampa Bay Local Organizing Committee. Most recently, Lessinger and the TBLOC hosted the first College Football Playoff National Championship in the Southeast at Raymond James Stadium on January 9th, 2017. Lessinger managed operations, logistics and marketing/promotions for all ancillary events associated with the Championship. Tampa Bay created a convenient, walkable and accessible downtown Championship Campus by utilizing the Riverwalk as the main corridor to all CFP ancillary events. As a result, Tampa Bay set record attendance numbers at Playoff Fan Central at the Tampa Convention Center, AT&T Playoff Playlist Live! at Curtis Hixon Park, Media Day and Media Party at Amalie Arena, TASTE of the Championship at the Florida Aquarium and the Extra Yard 5K along iconic Bayshore Boulevard.
In addition to Tournament Manager and Special Events Director, Lessinger has been instrumental in piloting successful legacy programs; the “Beyond” initiative, which focuses on gathering and empowering local women of influence in support of Tampa Bay hosted National Championships, and “For Student-Athletes, by Student-Athletes” (FSABSA), which targets non-participating student-athletes, providing a unique professional development opportunity by engaging them in the behind-the-scenes event management and operations. As a result, over 500 local women of influence have participated in the Beyond program and 120 student-athletes have gained professional development opportunities through FSABSA. Lessinger also served on the Tampa Bay Local Organizing Committee for the 2015 NACWAA Convention (National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators), is an active member of USF’s Women in Leadership and Philanthropy (WLP), Positive Coaching Alliance’s Champions Club and chair of the WLP WISE Symposium Committee. Most recently Lessinger was featured as one of the most influential women in Tampa Bay sports by the Tampa Bay Times.
Lessinger came to the TBSC from the University of South Florida (USF) where she spent eight years as the head volleyball coach (2004-2012) and seven as the assistant volleyball coach (1996-2003). As head coach, Lessinger helped transform the program into a BIG EAST Conference Championship contender, earning conference tournament appearances in each of her last four seasons. While coaching, she served as the President and Vice President of the BIG EAST Coaches Association and Chair of the American Volleyball Coaches’ Association (AVCA) All-Region Committee. Lessinger was also a member of the AVCA All American Committee in 2011.
Prior to her coaching career at USF, Lessinger spent five years as a collegiate volleyball player at the University of Florida (UF) where she won five SEC Championships, participated in five NCAA Tournaments and three Final Four’s. In honor of her relentless effort, hard work and dedication, the UF volleyball program established the "Claire Roach Defensive Award," which is still presented annually to the best defensive player on the team.
Lessinger was inducted into Clearwater Central Catholic High School’s Hall of Fame inaugural class on May 5, 2001. She was named the Tampa Tribune’s 1992 High School Athlete of the Year and the 1993 High School Female Athlete of the Year. She graduated from UF in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science degree in exercise and sports science with a concentration in sports management. Claire and her husband, Mike reside in Tampa with their two sons Tyler (9) and Tanner (6).