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How I'm spending my summer

Sports business executives tell us what they’ve been up to and into this season, from books and TV to new hobbies and habits.

By Kody Timmers
Frank Vuono (center) on his recent five-day whitewater rafting trip on the Salmon River with Princeton friends and teammates.Juan Nogueras

Frank Vuono

Co-founder, 16W Marketing

Must read: “Be Where Your Feet Are” by Scott O’Neil with Randall Wright; “Jersey City to America’s Game, Memories and Reflections” by Paul Tagliabue; “Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine” by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack (hoping to get to first level sommelier status).

Must watch: “Ted Lasso”; “Mr. Inbetween”; “Yellowstone” (hoping for another season; looking forward to prequel Y:1883).

Must go: Recently went whitewater rafting down the middle fork of the Salmon River with 22 Princeton buddies/teammates. Five days on the river, totally off the grid, in millions of acres of wilderness. Enjoying time with family (four grandkids; four granddogs) at Jersey shore (Long Beach Island).

Pandemic hobbies or habits: At the beginning of the pandemic, I started hosting weekly Zoom calls with my different friends groups. It has turned out to be a wonderful way to stay in touch, and it has been welcomed and well attended by these friends. This is definitely now a habit. I also opened a restaurant, The Hearth Tavern, during the pandemic (great timing!), and I love to hang out with friends and family there.

 

Joe Stetson

Chief marketing and revenue officer, New York Red Bulls

Must read: “Letters to My White Male Friends” by Dax-Devlon Ross. I’ve been fortunate to have Dax in my life since the ’90s. Following George Floyd’s murder, he wrote a letter that ended up becoming a book published by St. Martin’s Press. Our organization was looking for guidance, like many organizations, in June of last year and we got Dax to speak to the entire staff. Dax thoughtfully and seamlessly was able to get us all to challenge and better understand such a complicated issue.

Must watch: Probably cliché for me to say, because I work in soccer … but I dare anyone to watch “Ted Lasso” and not smile.

Must go: My in-laws celebrated their 70th birthdays by taking the family out to Saratoga Springs for July 4 weekend. One day in particular was magical, with a boat tour of Saratoga Lake by day and fireworks show at night. This December I’m planning on taking the family to Antigua. We recently brought Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority on as a NY Red Bulls partner so I thought it’d be best to test the product… HA!

Pandemic hobbies or habits: Quality time with my wife, Stacey, and my kids, Penelope (age 7) and Isaac (age 3). Working from home for 14 months gave me some much-needed extra time with the family. Now that I’m returning to work at the office, it is so important to not lose that.

 

Dana Campbell

Director of marketing, Washington Mystics

Must read: “On Juneteenth” by Annette Gordon-Reed; The Atlantic.

Must watch: “High on the Hog: How African-American Cuisine Transformed America”; “Unsolved
Mysteries” reboot;
“WandaVision.”

Must go: I’m looking forward to our family reunion in Charleston, S.C., later this summer. I haven’t been able to travel to see family in over a year, so I’m really looking forward to catching up, enjoying great food, and experiencing lots of warm embraces. Locally, I’ve enjoyed the reopening of the Kennedy Center for shows. There’s a lot of interesting and diverse performances planned for the Millennium Stage and their new space called the REACH. I love that one of the benefits of living in D.C. is access to some of the best arts and culture spaces in the country.

Pandemic hobbies or habits: Right before the pandemic started, I took up an interest in mixology and learning how to make craft cocktails at home. I’ve learned so much about the history of cocktails and how much fun it is to experiment with different flavors to create a unique experience. It’s also exciting to learn more about some of the smaller Black- and women-owned spirit brands currently out on the market. I’m grateful for the opportunity to get vaccinated and have done so, but I will continue to mask up to do my part to keep my family, friends and co-workers safe.

 

Abby Blomstrom

Executive vice president and general counsel, Monumental Sports & Entertainment

Must read: “The Code Breaker,” Walter Isaacson; “Hamnet,” Maggie O’Farrell; ”The Mirror & The Light,” Hilary Mantel (last one is aspirational, but I’m determined to read it by the end of the summer).

Must watch: “The Queen’s Gambit,” “Ozark” and “Schitt’s Creek” (and a lot of sports, with the NBA and NHL finals, the Euros and now the Olympics).

Must go: Mount Desert Island (Acadia National Park), Maine. As soon as school finished this summer, we drove up to Mount Desert Island in Maine with our two teenagers and our dog.

Pandemic hobbies or habits: We did a lot of weekend hikes as a family, which were great for connecting as a family and unwinding. I hope to find the time to keep those up as all of our schedules start to get back to more typical levels.

 

Courtesy of Alex Francois

Alex Francois

Global head of competitive operations, Valorant Esports

Must read: Just finished: “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah (incredible). Currently reading: “The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion.”

Must watch: “Mare of Easttown.”

Must go: Sister’s wedding in September in Jupiter, Fla.

Pandemic hobbies or habits: Journaling, dog training.

 

Julie Jensen

Senior vice president of external engagement and communications, Washington Football Team

Must read: “Susan, Linda, Nina & Cokie — The Founding Mothers of NPR” and “Dare to Lead” by Brené Brown.

Must watch: “Schitt’s Creek.”

Must go: Outer Banks, North Carolina, and Buffalo, N.Y., to see family and to celebrate nephew’s high school graduation.

Pandemic hobbies: Gardening. I would get up every morning and wander around my yard and check on all of my plants and flowers.

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