Jennifer Stoll, the driving force behind the Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission, is headed in a new direction.
Stoll, who was hired in 2013 by Colorado Mesa University to help get the commission started, will venture out on her own with Stoll Sports Strategies, which has formed a partnership with the National Association of Sports Commissions.
Stoll, who has been a longtime member of the NASC, will work with NASC and its members, as well as tourism industry partners, to create the Sports Tourism Learning Institute, a new research service and education arm for the organization.
"Throughout the past five years, I have been most proud to represent such an amazing community to a national audience," Stoll said about her time with the GGJSC. "This community is full of amazing people, beautiful scenery and phenomenal sports and recreation."
After two years of planning and setting the foundation, the GGJSC was established in 2015. The commission is based on a collaboration among CMU, Mesa County and the municipalities of Grand Junction, Fruita and Palisade.
The goal of the commission is to attract new sporting events and enhance existing events to have a positive impact on the economy and the community.
Stoll said the commission has accomplished everything it set out to do and more.
"Absolutely, the commission has been a success, and I believe it will continue to be a success long into the future," she said.
One of the first targeted goals for the commission was to bring the USA Cycling Collegiate Road Nationals to the area and that was accomplished with the springtime races coming to Grand Junction on a two-year agreement in 2017-18.
"It was a phenomenal event for our community. Seeing the community-wide effort come to fruition over nearly five years of researching, planning and executing those championships is a microcosm of what the sports commission is all about," Stoll said. "Not only was it economically successful, it also helped put our community on the map through national exposure."
The national championships drew collegiate cycling teams from all over the nation with hundreds of cyclists competing over three days of racing each year.
In 2017, the commission also lured the USA Cycling Para National Championships to compete in Grand Junction.
Derek Wagner, vice president of intergovernmental and community affairs with CMU, said Stoll will be missed.
"Jen has done a great job of leveraging her experience and abilities to the benefit the commission and our community," he said via email. "She's helped create a strong foundation for the organization and helped establish the value proposition for investing in sports tourism going forward."
The most recent impact of the sports commission was its work in getting a lodging tax passed in the November election. The tax will help invest in sports tourism, Stoll said.
"The Grand Junction lodging tax has really boosted our momentum and excitement across the community," Stoll said. "There are a number of exciting prospects in the hopper."
Wagner anticipates the GGJSC will continue to have success in the future.
"Because of our strong partnerships, the Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission is on the map and people are taking notice of the great things we're doing," Wagner said. "We're excited to bring on a new leader to build on past successes and keep our collective momentum rolling."
Some of the other things the commission has accomplished include:
■ Negotiating Special Olympics Summer Games contract extensions.
■ Adding a half marathon and growing the Rim Rock Marathon into a marquee event, which included moving the finish line to downtown Fruita.
■ Bringing the Train to Hunt regional qualifier and national championships to Powderhorn Mountain Resort.
"The success of the commission has never been about one person," Stoll said. "At its core, it's about a unique collaboration, being innovative, and everyone playing a unique part of the objective.
"(It's been about) rolling up our sleeves to get it done, with one goal in mind, which is to better our community through sports."
Stoll's final day with the Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission is Jan. 15.