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Monica Blake named 2022 NWL 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 game day 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.

FUNATIX ACHIEVEMENTS

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

MANDAN RODEO DAYS

  • 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%

THE BISMARCK MARATHON

  • 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

THE BISMARCK SANTA RUN

  • 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%

DESIGNER GENES WALK

  • 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

COMPANY PICNICS

  • 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.”