By Cassie Kickert
The Board of Directors of the St. Paul Pioneers decided it was time to add some new blood and vigor to the group that oversees the operation of one of the country’s most successful amateur football teams, expanding from seven to nine members.
After a series of interviews with interested candidates, the board chose Marla Collins and Sam Holt as its new members.
As it turns out, both Collins and Holt already had an interest and a passion in Pioneers football. Both started volunteering with the team several years ago because Jacob Husnik played for the Pioneers. Collins is Husnick’s mother; Holt is a friend.
Collins and Holt also shared a motivation for applying to be on the board: learning from the team’s current board members.
When asked why he wanted to be on the board, Holt said, “To help bring more ideas to the board and gain priceless experience from people that have been around running a team.”
Collins echoed Holt’s statements, saying the current board is a “fabulous group of people.” She said she is eager to learn from, and contribute to, the board this season as well.
Holt, 18, has been with the Pioneers since he was 15. He has helped film Pioneers games, has volunteered for other game-day functions and has served as the unofficial championship ring guy, helping design and order several styles of rings.
When Holt is not working with the Pioneers, he stays busy helping another Minnesota sports team—the Minnesota Twins. In particular, he works in the team’s bullpen, catching when players are injured. He also works with the Twins’ youth training camps.
With the board this season, Holt said his mission is to bring the Pioneers more local and national recognition.
Collins said she hopes to increase the team’s fan base as well. She and her family have been avid fans since Husnik joined the team in 2008. She, too, has volunteered her time and talents in the past – serving as one of several unofficial team photographers at home and away games. She said she plans to draw upon her experience running a business, as well as her passion as a fan, to help the Pioneers expand their fan base and their sponsor pool.
In addition to the Pioneers, Collins and her husband, Mark, enjoy rooting for the Vikings and Twins. Like any mother and grandmother, her favorite thing to do is to spend time with her kids, Jacob and Chelsea, and her grandson, Emerson.
Both Collins and Holt are excited to be part of the board and for the upcoming season as well.