Welcome back to Crawdads Corner! My name is Kristen Buynar and I am one of the group sales executives with the Crawdads. I moved to Hickory about four months ago from Collierville, Tennessee, which is about 30 minutes outside of Memphis. I want to take a small piece of your day to tell you a little bit about my journey that has led me to Hickory.
Sports have been a big aspect of my life since I was little. I grew up playing sports and would go to various baseball, football, and basketball games with my family. I always loved being around sports and knew I wanted to pursue a career in the industry. When I began college at Arkansas State University, I selected sport management as my major and wanted to use that to help me become an athletic trainer in the NFL. I quickly realized that was not for me and decided to shift my focus within the sports world.
Immediately after graduating in 2015, I moved to Springdale, Arkansas, home of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Double A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals). While there, I completed a game day internship with the Naturals, working all their home games. Some of my responsibilities included signing contestants up for promotions, being a mascot handler, assisting with all on-field activities, rolling t-shirts, pulling tarp, and doing the chicken dance on the dugout during the 7th-inning stretch. My favorite part of each game was the eyeball race in which myself and other interns would run across the outfield wearing costumes of giant eyeballs. I’m slow, so I would never win but it was fun running around bumping each to each other as the crowd went crazy every night. Although I was only with the Naturals for a few months, I learned a lot from the internship and consider it my start in sports.
After my internship, I decided to go back to Arkansas State to get my master’s degree in sport administration. I graduated in August 2016 and was hired as the assistant softball coordinator for the City of Jonesboro, Arkansas. During my time there, I did scheduling for youth and adult softball leagues and tournaments, helped run the concession stands, and handled most of the financial aspects of the complex. I was also able to volunteer with the Miracle League of Jonesboro, which is a baseball program for children and adults with disabilities. I loved seeing the joy on the athletes’ faces as they circled the bases and competed against one another.
After my time in Jonesboro, I moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas, to work for a company called All American Classics. It is a sports memorabilia company that raises money for charity and my job was to make cold calls to companies to set up tables where we could sell the memorabilia. I stayed there for about a year and decided to move back home to Memphis and resume my career in minor league baseball. I accepted a seasonal group sales account representative position with the Memphis Redbirds. I had been going to Redbirds games since I was little and now I was selling suites and group outings to the ballpark that helped develop my passion for baseball. An interesting fact about the Redbirds is that Stubby Clapp, now the first base coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, was the team’s manager while I worked there. I remember watching him when he played for the Redbirds in the early 2000s. The thing I remember the most was Stubby doing a backflip every time he ran out onto the field, now I have a bobblehead of him doing a backflip. To top it all off, I had the privilege of attending the 2018 Triple A National Championship in Columbus, Ohio, where the Redbirds beat the Durham Bulls 14-4.
All of these experiences have led me here to Hickory, North Carolina. My time with the Crawdads has been amazing so far and I look forward to making more memories. If you are interested in booking a group outing, give us a call at (828) 322-3000 and we would be happy help!