Get to Know: Teresa Braeckel
(Editor’s Note: This is one of a series of stories featuring players, tournament officials, sponsors, volunteers and others involved with this year’s Winston-Salem Open.)
By John Delong
At her very core, Teresa Braeckel is a people person.
That’s evident by her warm, outgoing personality, her sincerity, and her always-cheerful smile.
It’s one of the reasons why she graduated from the University of Missouri in 2009 with a degree in Hospitality Management, and then set out on a career in event planning and operations.
It’s one of the reasons why she was such a at the inaugural Winston-Salem Open in her role as an event assistant for special events.
And it’s one of the biggest reasons why she has been elevated to the title of Tournament Coordinator and primary sponsorship coordinator in 2012, a position she has remained in since.
When the Winston-Salem Open boasts of being "Big Time Tennis, Served Southern Style," it’s people like Teresa who give the tournament its distinct Southern charm.
"Throughout my life I have been involved in numerous organizations, groups, committees and clubs," Braeckel said.
"Working with others and making a difference has always been a passion of mine and fulfils me and brings me a joy that is unparalleled."
Tournament director Bill Oakes considers Braeckel "the epitome of do-everything." She handles all of the tournaments special events and is the primary contact for many of the tournament's sponsors.
"It’s one of the most-important jobs, if not the most-important job, on our staff," Oakes said. "We need to make sure our sponsors are taken care of, and she is the first line of connection with our partners.
"When we decided to move her over to that position, we did it because we know how valuable she is, and how organized, and smart, and is such a customer service person. She is extremely important to the long-term financial viability of our event because she deals with the people that really help keep the event going."
Braeckel joined the tournament staff after working as an operations intern with Wake Forest’s event management staff.
A Navy brat who was born in Charleston, S.C., and moved to Winston-Salem at age 10, she got her first big dose of the business while an undergraduate at Missouri. She worked at the newly renovated University of Missouri Student Recreation complex, MizzouRec, on projects ranging from walks for non-profit groups to setup and takedown of outdoor events involving facility rentals.
Ultimately she became an event lead and aquatics event assistant at MizzouRec’s Aquatics Center, hosting various swimming and diving events. Included was the Missouri Grand Prix, which drew the likes of Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and other Olympians.
While at Missouri, she was also able to further build her career foundation by networking with front-office personnel at several of the state’s professional sports franchises – the Kansas City Chiefs, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Rams and St. Louis Blues.
Upon graduation, Braeckel returned to Winston-Salem, as she had long suspected she would. She eventually landed the internship with Wake Forest’s event management staff.
"I just love Winston-Salem," she said. "I knew when I moved away that I would probably come back. As a young graduate, you search for yourself and try to find the place that you would enjoy being in, and Winston-Salem is that place for me. It’s different being here as an adult compared to being a child or a high-schooler, but I love being here and I love working for the tournament and being involved with other organizations in the community."
She wound up being the very first person that Oakes hired after he was named tournament director in January of 2011.
"When I heard that we were going to bid on the tournament and Wake Forest was going to be involved, I went to (assistant AD for internal operations) Steve Adams and said, ‘I HAVE to be involved with this,’" Braeckel said. "It was right up my alley with working with professional athletes and really being involved at the ground level.
"I told Bill Oakes when I met with him, ‘I want to be an event manager,’ and I said, ‘Find me some way to be connected with this community I grew up in, that I still know a lot of people in.’ I said, ‘Just have me on and I promise I won’t let you down.’"
For sure, she has lived up to her promise.
And the tournament is better for it.