The Bismarck Larks are excited to announce Monica Blake, Charlie Maurer, and the Larks NWLTV Broadcast Team for being recognized in the Northwoods League annual awards. The awards, which were decided by a vote of team officials at the League’s annual fall meetings last week in Rochester, MN are given annually to the League’s outstanding individuals.

Monica Blake, the former General Manager of Funatix Events, was named the 2022 Northwoods League Most Valuable Employee. Charlie Maurer was recognized as the 2022 Northwoods League TV Announcer of the Year. Additionally, the Larks broadcast team, led by the organization’s media team, was recognized as the top Gameday Presentation in the Great Plains.

Monica Blake, 2022 Northwoods League Most Valuable Employee

Monica Blake was named the 2022 Northwoods League Most Valuable Employee, after her work serving as the General Manager for Funatix Events, the affiliate event company of the Bismarck Larks. Monica also assisted the Larks gameday operations team during the season. Currently, Monica is the General Manager of the Minot NWL team and part of the ownership group.

“Everyone in the Northwoods League puts a ton of work into what they do each year, so I am extremely honored to be voted the NWL’s Most Valuable Team Member,” Blake said. “Working with the amazing people in the Larks organization has pushed me to be my absolute best every day.”

As the General Manager of Funatix Events, she is responsible for the growth and development of national and regional events. These events include one of the oldest rodeos in the world, the Mandan Rodeo Days, Bismarck’s largest three-day running event, the Bismarck Marathon, the only Christmas road race in the state, the Santa Run, and numerous company picnics.

Monica started with the Larks as a merchandise intern in 2019. Her work ethic and dedication to the team earned her a full-time position in 2020. During her time with the Larks, Monica worked across many departments and held various positions. This includes sponsorship sales and activation, inside ticket sales, operations, merchandise, and special events. Her experience has made her a valuable asset to the organization, sponsors, and even coworkers. She has a passion for using sports, events, and FUN to make a difference in people’s lives.

“In four seasons with the Larks and Funatix Events, Monica [Blake] proved to be an invaluable member of our team and our mission,” John Bollinger, Larks, and Funatix Events owner and CEO. “So much so that at the young age of 25 now, she’s been promoted again to General Manager of our Minot expansion franchise with equity. She’s proven to be an incredible operator, leader, and teammate and for those reasons, I’m so happy she’s received this awesome recognition.”

Her devotion to our team increased event revenue three times more than in 2021. Not only did Monica serve as a leader for Funatix Events, but she also worked on specialized teams within the Bismarck Larks organization such as vision, culture, and merchandise. Monica also oversaw the Funatix Events Marketing Manager, a Funatix event intern, and a Larks merchandise intern.


Monica played a key role in sponsorship sales and the planning and execution of all marketing and event logistics for Funatix Events.


  • Negotiated and secured a three-year agreement with Mandan Rodeo Days to continue the success of one of the world’s oldest rodeos.
  • Doubled ticket sales and sponsorship revenue
  • Tripled the total net profit
  • Implemented a new sponsorship strategy to increase sponsorship revenue by 100%


  • Played a strategic role in growing the Bismarck Marathon in financials and attendance.
  • Increased registration for the five main races in three years
  • Nearly doubled sponsorship revenue in three years (93% increase)
  • Broke the record for runners in multiple races in 2022


  • Extended the Bismarck Santa Run’s regional and statewide reach, as the only Christmas run in North Dakota
  • Increased registrations for the race and sponsorship revenue by over 50%


  • Negotiated and secured the Designer Genes Walk as the fourth community event for Funatix Events.
  • Helped set the record for donations back to the Designer Genes non-profit


  • Negotiated the largest company picnic in team history for Sanford Health
    • Brought the World’s Largest Bounce house to Bismarck
    • Hosted five musical acts including up-and-coming-country-music stars Tigerlily and nationally recognized Hairball performers
    • Coordinated with local food trucks for attendees to enjoy
    • Provided the ultimate Ferris wheel experience
    • Total event attendance over two days was 3,000
  • Managed the experience and execution of all elements for two additional company picnics outside of the ballpark

Monica was named the General Manager of the new NWL franchise in Minot, ND following the 2022 Larks season.. Jordan Black was named the new General Manager of Funatix Events for 2023.

“In Funatix’s first year, Monica [Blake] paved a way for us to be successful and bring fun events to the region,” Black said. “I am honored to be able to follow in her footsteps as we continue to make the state of North Dakota a tourist attraction for premier events. Monica’s leadership and organization will be missed, but we are excited to build on the groundwork she laid.”

TV Announcer of the Year

Charlie Maurer was named the 2022 Northwoods League TV Announcer of the Year, after his work serving as the team broadcaster for the Bismarck Larks. Charlie was a member of the Larks media intern team and excelled as both the team’s home TV broadcaster and road radio voice.

Charlie, a student at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, showcased excellent knowledge of the Larks, their opponents, the Northwoods League, and more. He led the team into new endeavors like broadcasting Larks games on ESPN+ and executed many new league-wide corporate partnerships like Stadium Mustard and DraftKings Sportsbook.

“Charlie [Maurer] was a leader of the broadcast and it’s exciting to know that he is being recognized for his work as TV Announcer of the Year,” Isaac Bugarin, said.

Isaac shared media team leadership opportunities with Joe Zollo during the 2022 season.

”He spent countless hours studying team stats, talking to players and truly finding unique stories about the team to share with the country on ESPN+ and beyond,” Bugarin said.

Gameday Presentation in the Great Plains

The Larks broadcast team, led by the media intern team, was recognized as the best Gameday Presentation in the Great Plains Division of the Northwoods League. Members of the team include Charlie Maurer, Dathyl Larsen, LaMark Wylie, Charlie Hammock, Elijah Grabrick, Clayton Van Horn, and Joshua Tigges.

Bismarck was one of the leaders in ESPN+ games, broadcasting 17 games on the official streaming partner of the league. In total, the team broadcasted 36 total games in 2022.

“We had a great broadcast team that was featured on ESPN+ throughout the summer. These seven individuals took ownership and took great pride in producing a consistent show for fans, parents, and baseball lovers across the country. I couldn’t be more proud of the team and all of their hard work throughout the summer.”

Since the franchise joined the Northwoods League in 2017, the broadcast team has consistently been recognized despite a change in leadership.

“I’m proud our team has been recognized for doing that at a high level each and every night,” Bollinger said. “Whatever the task, our people and culture strive for excellence in all we do. We see the broadcast, now streaming select games on ESPN+, as an incredible opportunity to gain valuable exposure for our players and communities while also showcasing the FUN, family-friendly environments we’ve created with our teams.”

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