Aug 1, 2017

On July 26, the Comets announced Ryan Johnson as General Manager of the Utica Comets – their first in franchise history. And on the heels of the hockey operations revamp comes a new business operations department, spearheaded by VP of Corporate Partnerships Alicia Leone-DeSarro.

A native of Utica, Leone-DeSarro comes to the Comets with an extensive background in sales, working eight years with Specialty Sales as a Medical Sales Representative and over sixteen in the industry. Having lived in the area her entire life, Leone-DeSarro brings a wealth of knowledge of not only the industry, but also of the local businesses and current sponsors of the Utica Comets. As a local, she will have an intrinsic knowledge on how to simultaneously mesh and expand the Comets and Companies’ brands. Leone-DeSarro graduated Cum Laude from SUNY Oswego in 2001 and currently lives in Utica with her husband, Anthony, and their three children.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to work for the Utica Comets, and especially to be able to work so closely with our area’s businesses,” Leone-DeSarro remarked. “I have always been interested in the sports and entertainment industry but never wanted to leave the Utica area; now, I get to pursue my dream and do it locally.”

Assisting Leone-DeSarro is Adam Pawlick, who will focus on fulfillment and activation of all active accounts. Pawlick, who has been with the Comets just over a year, grew up in Whitesboro and attended Clarkson University, where he was the captain of the hockey team before going on to play professionally with the Pensacola Ice Flyers of the SPHL. Through three full seasons with the Ice Flyers, he recorded 169 points and most recently had his jersey retired in a ceremony this past Spring. Pawlick brings a deep knowledge of the hockey industry to his department – something that will help Leone-DeSarro when aligning Company’s marketing initiatives with the Comets.

The final member of the corporate team is also your Broadcaster for the Comets. Andy Zilch is entering his second season as the voice of the Comets, and will also assist Leone-DeSarro and Pawlick to help with selling and managing various accounts. Prior to working for the Comets, Zilch worked for the Springfield Falcons and Greenville Road Warriors of the ECHL in their respective sales departments.

When putting together his Corporate Partnerships team for the 2017-18 season, Comets President Robert Esche placed a heavy importance on hiring a local VP.

 “I’m extremely excited to bring on Alicia to lead the corporate department,” Esche explained. “I feel that our visions align seamlessly in understanding our local companies and how to best represent them. By having two local individuals at the helm of this department, the Comets will continue to grow relationships with our area’s businesses in a mutualistic manner while continuously elevating the experience for our partners.”

The Comets staff is constantly looking to elevate their brand and fan experience, resulting in a dynamic, devoted, and diligent staff that will look to challenge the status quo this upcoming season. The three-person Corporate Partnership team is just one piece of the puzzle that makes up the Comets and looks to provide fans with the best experience in the AHL. 

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