Meet the Varsity Spirit Leadership Team

Bill Seely

President, Varsity Spirit

Bill Seely

President, Varsity Spirit

Bill started as a UCA Instructor in 1989 before becoming full-time in 1991. He was a cheerleader at George Mason University, where he graduated with a degree in Sports Management. Bill was on the founding board for the USASF, helped to create USA Cheer, the US National Teams and STUNT the Sport. Currently, as President of Varsity Spirit, he leads the team in delivering world-class experiences for young people everywhere. Bill and his wife, Heather, have four children, Mickenzie, McKenna, Hopper and Dequan, and a granddaughter, Naomi Kate, along with three pups.

Why is he passionate about Varsity Spirit?
“I’m passionate about Varsity Spirit for two primary reasons. The first is that I believe deeply that school spirit can positively transform a school, gym and community. Helping young people create an environment that is positive and inclusive helps instill a sense of community and pride, and it equips those involved to be more successful in life. The second is that I have the privilege of serving alongside the most incredible people every day I come into work.”

Favorite Hobby: He likes to spend his free time at his son Hopper’s brewery, Grind City.
Favorite Food: New York Style pizza puts all other pizza to shame
Favorite Band/Musician: His daughter, McKenna Bray, of course, followed by the Eagles and Tom Petty

Darrell Bagby

VP, Operational Excellence, Varsity All Star

Darrell Bagby

VP, Operational Excellence, Varsity All Star

Darrell started his career as a UCA Instructor in 1990 while he was a cheerleader at the University of Florida. He became full-time with Varsity Spirit in 2006 and now serves as VP of Operational Excellence for Varsity All Star. In this role he implements and monitors day-to-day operational systems and processes that provide visibility into goals, progress and obstacles for key initiatives for Varsity All Star. He and his wife, Mia, have been with Varsity All Star since 2006 and reside in Memphis, TN. They have three children, Donovan, Leila and Max, and a black lab named Titus.

Why is he passionate about Varsity Spirit?
“Varsity Spirit is often part of the most meaningful experiences of students and student-athletes during the most formative times of their lives. I believe our work is impactful, and contributes to a more confident, healthy and happy life and future for those with whom we connect.”

Favorite Hobby: He’s a grill master.
Favorite Food: BBQ
Favorite Band/Musician: Sade

Melanie Berry

SVP, Competitions & Special Events

Melanie Berry

SVP, Competitions & Special Events

Melanie started her career with Varsity Spirit as a UDA Instructor in 1980. After dancing on the Memphis Pom Squad at Memphis State University, in 1986 she became full-time with the company. In her current role, Melanie coordinates, plans and executes the largest cheerleading and dance team events in the world along with Special Events that give cheerleaders and dancers the chance to travel the country (and world!) doing what they love. Melanie and her husband, David, have three children and one granddaughter.

Why is she passionate about Varsity Spirit?
“My entire career in the spirit industry has been with Varsity Spirit – from when I was a senior competing in the very first National High School Cheerleading Championship, to the first time I ever flew on a plane, to my first time on television and, of course, the first time I truly experienced what it felt like to work together as a team. Today I am blessed to be able to create these special memories for every team and their families that attend our competitions and events.”

Favorite Hobby: She loves to fish.
Favorite Food: Veggies
Favorite Band/Musician: Anything country

Rick Brown

SVP & Chief Information Officer

Rick Brown

SVP & Chief Information Officer

Rick Brown has been a member of the Varsity Spirit team since 2017. As Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Rick leads the information technology function that covers all aspects of Varsity Spirit IT. He is happily married with three children, two dogs and a cat. He enjoys outdoor sports and activities.

Why is he passionate about Varsity Spirit?
“I love Varsity Spirit’s mission to elevate the student experience. It’s so important to invest in our nation’s youth to develop and guide their paths. They are our future leaders.”

Favorite Hobby: He loves working on construction projects in his spare time.
Favorite Food: Mexican
Favorite Band/Musician: Maroon 5

Dawn Calitri

SVP, Training & Education & Event Operations

Dawn Calitri

SVP, Training & Education & Event Operations

Dawn’s career with Varsity Spirit dates to 1986 when she was a summer temp for Cheerleader Supply Co. Fast forward to today and Dawn serves as Senior Vice President of Training and Education and Event Operations, where she oversees University Relations, Camp Administration, Varsity University, Registration and Customer Service. Dawn is married with three children and a dog and resides in Collierville, TN.

Why is she passionate about Varsity Spirit?
“I genuinely believe in our mission and values. The positive impact we have on the students and athletes we serve, as well as our employees, is inspiring and keeps me committed.”

Favorite Hobby: She loves any time she can spend with family, from beach trips and game nights, to pool days, escape rooms and cooking meals for them to enjoy together.
Favorite Food: Fried seafood platter
Favorite Band/Musician: U2

Craig Davis

VP, Brand Performance & Experience

Craig Davis

VP, Brand Performance & Experience

After starting as a UCA Instructor in 2000, Craig Davis joined full-time with World Spirit Federation in 2004. He currently serves as Vice President of Brand Performance and Experience for Varsity All Star, where he is responsible for establishing and executing our strategic plans and ensure our event operations teams provide a world-class customer experience. He and his wife, Erin, live in Clermont, FL with their two children, Devyne and Cruz.

Why is he passionate about Varsity Spirit?
“I’m passionate about Varsity Spirit because of the ‘team’ aspect. I love to collaborate and celebrate successes both internally and externally, from coworkers to coaches and athletes alike.”

Favorite Hobby: He loves taking his family to pro football and basketball games.
Favorite Food: Salmon
Favorite Band/Musician: Prince

Becky Gennings

SVP, Training & Education

Becky Gennings

SVP, Training & Education

Becky started out as one of the first members of UCA Staff in 1977. After cheering at and graduating from the University of Arkansas, she began full-time with the company. Currently, as Senior Vice President of Training and Education, she has the pleasure of working alongside all of Varsity Spirit’s camp brands, developing programs and curriculum. Becky is the mom of two daughters, Gracie and Annie, and lives by the motto ‘Kindness is everything. Treat people with respect and love.’

Why is she passionate about Varsity Spirit?
“I’m passionate about Varsity Spirit because I truly believe that our mission of elevating the student experience – a mission we have followed for over 45 years – is more important than ever. There is nothing like seeing young people find success and happiness through spirit activities.”

Favorite Hobby: She loves to travel.
Favorite Food: Too many to choose a favorite!
Favorite Band/Musician: Anything from the 70s

Ramon Gonzalez

SVP, Operations & Supply Chain

Ramon Gonzalez

SVP, Operations & Supply Chain

Ramon joined the Varsity Spirit team in 2021. Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, he relocated to Plano, TX from Minneapolis, MN. As Senior Vice President of Operations and Supply Chain, Ramon oversees all aspects of sample, prototype and apparel creation and manufacturing, including supplying the production sites with all their material needs. He and his wife, Melissa, have two boys, Alex and Adrian, and a sweet goldendoodle named Buddy.

Why is he passionate about Varsity Spirit?
“I’m passionate about Varsity Spirit because of our mission to help improve the life, wellbeing and experiences of young people.”

Favorite Hobby: In his free time, you can find him running or cycling.
Favorite Food: Japanese & Indian
Favorite Band/Musician: Switchfoot

Brett Gora

SVP & Chief Financial Officer

Brett Gora

SVP & Chief Financial Officer

Brett joined the Varsity Spirit family in 2021 and is responsible for continuously improving the tools and processes available to our employees in order to best support our customers. As a Villanova University alum, he stays involved as an Advisory Council Member of the Moran Center for Global Leadership, and he’s also a founding Board Member of the nonprofit Share the Herd. Brett and his wife, Meghan, have one son, James.

Why is he passionate about Varsity Spirit?
“Youth team activities had a formative impact on my development, and Varsity Spirit plays an important role in this experience for many young cheer, dance and band participants.”

Favorite Hobby: He’s an outdoors enthusiast and loves hiking.
Favorite Food: Chicken parmesan
Favorite Band/Musician: Metallica

Jackie Kennedy

VP, Marketing & Communications

Jackie Kennedy

VP, Marketing & Communications

Jackie began as a UCA Instructor in 2002 before starting full-time with Varsity Spirit in 2011. She currently serves as Vice President of Marketing and Communications, where she is responsible for branding, public relations, campaign promotion, crisis communication and marketing-related customer relationship and engagement activities. Jackie cheered at UCF, winning a national championship in 2002 and was a member of the US National Team, winning gold in 2010. Jackie and her husband, Zach, have two children, Harper and Conner, and a rescue pup, Hazel.

Why is she passionate about Varsity Spirit?
“It’s amazing to see what being part of a team can do for young people and the invaluable life lessons that are learned. We are truly making a difference in their lives.”

Favorite Hobby: She loves traveling.
Favorite Food: French fries
Favorite Band/Musician: Anything that makes her sing out loud

Nicole Lauchaire

SVP, Corporate Communications, Varsity Brands

Nicole Lauchaire

SVP, Corporate Communications, Varsity Brands

Nicole was a cheerleader at Florida State University and served as a UCA Instructor beginning in 1996. As Varsity Brands’ Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications, she is responsible for the strategy and implementation of communications across the company, as well as reinforcing the organization’s key messages and mission. Nicole also leads Digital, Media & Marketing for Varsity Spirit, and since 2010 has co-hosted the Varsity Spirit cheerleading championships on ESPN and CBS Sports Networks.

Why is she passionate about Varsity Spirit?
“At the end of the day, what we do is bring joy to people's lives. That's what drives me every day.”

Favorite Hobby: She loves trying out new fitness classes.
Favorite Food: Cheese

John Newby

EVP/GM, Varsity All Star & Corporate Partnerships

John Newby

EVP/GM, Varsity All Star & Corporate Partnerships

John started out as a Varsity Spirit Fashion Rep in 1999. Since then, he has taken on numerous roles, currently serving as the EVP/GM of Varsity All Star & Corporate Partnerships. In this role John oversees the all star division, including events and fashion, as well as leading the corporate partnership team. John and his wife, Mary, reside in Germantown, TN and have five daughters, five grandchildren and a sweet Aussiedoodle named Wavie.

Why is he passionate about Varsity Spirit?
“I’m passionate about Varsity Spirit because I love what we do to inspire young people to be more confident, become better team players and learn how to work hard. As a father of five daughters – all involved in cheer and dance – I’ve seen firsthand the benefits of being on a team, working hard and understanding what it takes to win. And I’ve seen that pay off in life after cheer and dance.”

Favorite Hobby: He’s been to every college football national championship game involving Clemson.
Favorite Food: Pizza (especially Memphis Pizza Café)
Favorite Band/Musician: Darius Rucker and Lauren Daigle

Sam Pond

Director, Strategy

Sam Pond

Director, Strategy

Originally from Brooklyn, NY, Sam currently serves as the Director of Strategy at Varsity Spirit. In this role he partners with business leaders across the company, focusing on overall strategic direction, critical projects, business development and reporting. Sam is passionate about St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and each year, he runs the St. Jude Half Marathon as a St. Jude Hero.

Why is he passionate about Varsity Spirit?
“Youth sports and activities are so critical in the overall development of students. I love to be able to help young people be a part of a team, have great experiences, and develop skills that will guide them through life.”

Favorite Hobby: He enjoys playing ice hockey and solving crossword puzzles.
Favorite Food: New York-style pizza
Favorite Band/Musician: Eric Church

Steve Roberts

GM, Band Apparel

Steve Roberts

GM, Band Apparel

Steve has been a constant in the band world since 1996. In his current role he is responsible for the ongoing business operations of Stanbury Uniforms, Varsity Spirit’s band apparel division. An advocate for the arts, he was a member of the band growing up, and his dad was his band director. Steve and his wife are proud parents to their children, who also participate in band and dance.

Why is he passionate about Varsity Spirit?
“It’s fantastic to work for a company that encourages student involvement. I believe in fostering engagement, participation and inclusion in activities for kids, especially the arts because of the impact it has had on my life.”

Favorite Hobby: He loves to travel, especially with his family.
Favorite Food: Anything cooked on the grill
Favorite Band/Musician: The Beatles

John Sadlow

EVP/GM, School Business

John Sadlow

EVP/GM, School Business

John joined the Varsity Spirit team in 2016 as Director of Strategy. Since then, he has taken on the role of Executive Vice President and General Manager of School Business, ensuring that Varsity Spirit provides incredible products and experiences to cheer, dance and band customers across apparel, camps and competitions. John enjoys spending his free time with his wife, Emily, and their three children, Andrew, Ellie and Caroline.

Why is he passionate about Varsity Spirit?
“Cheer, dance and band provide young people the same growth opportunities and life lessons that playing soccer and basketball gave me. I wake up every day thankful for the opportunity to elevate the student experience for millions of students across America.”

Favorite Hobby: He likes playing the drums.
Favorite Food: Cheeseburgers
Favorite Band/Musician: Dispatch & DMB

Nikki Shaikh

SVP, Human Resources

Nikki Shaikh

SVP, Human Resources

Coming all the way from England, UK, Nikki started with Varsity Brands in 2018 before transitioning to Varsity Spirit as Senior Vice President of Human Resources. Nikki now lives in Dallas, TX with her husband, Junaid, their three daughters, Sofia, Chloe and Ella, and their Corgi pup, Chester. Though she wasn’t a cheerleader herself, Nikki can often be seen at all star events cheering for her daughter, Chloe.

Why is she passionate about Varsity Spirit?
“The work that Varsity Spirit and Varsity Brands does to help kids feel a sense of belonging and purpose is one we can all resonate with. We’ve experienced middle school and high school, and now some of us have kids in school . . . that can be a difficult age. Seeing my daughter gain strength and confidence since she has been in cheer has been incredible to watch. We are making a positive impact on future generations.”

Favorite Hobby: She loves to go horseback riding.
Favorite Food: Mexican
Favorite Band/Musician: Armin Van Buuren