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  Name:   Reggie Williams
Month: November 2003
Schools: Dartmouth College B.A., 1976, Honorary Doctor of Laws, 1990
Organization: Disney Sports Attractions, Inc.
Title: Vice President

From playing professional football to holding office in local government, Reggie Williams is a dynamic leader who has tackled all kinds of challenges and opportunities throughout his professional career. As Vice President of Disney Sports Attractions, Reggie has the unique opportunity of leading a diverse and talented team that provides exhilarating sports and recreation experiences to guests at Walt Disney World Resort every day of the year.

Reggie attended Dartmouth College, where he graduated in just three and half years and was a three-time All-Ivy League linebacker in football and an Ivy League heavyweight wrestling champion (1975). The recipient of an academic scholarship, Reggie earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in 1976 and later received an honorary Doctor of Laws in 1990.

As a linebacker for 14 seasons (1976-89) with the National Football League's Cincinnati Bengals, Reggie patrolled a 100-yard field from end zone to end zone. Today, Reggie oversees Disney's vast Sports and Recreation offerings at Walt Disney World, which includes two water theme parks, a 200-acre sports complex, five championship golf courses, miniature golf courses, countless nature trails and bodies of water, perfect for fishing, boating, sailing and other outdoor activities.

Reggie's team is responsible for virtually every sports-related event on Disney property, including more than 150 annual events at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, the annual Walt Disney World Marathon, and Disney's long-running PGA TOUR event, the FUNAI Classic at Walt Disney World Resort.

Reggie began his career with the Walt Disney Company in April 1993. As the Director of Sports Development for Walt Disney World Resort, Reggie championed the effort to grow Disney's involvement in sports, particularly amateur sports. For more than a decade, Reggie's passion and vision have allowed the Walt Disney Co. to reshape the sports industry, while providing unprecedented opportunities for kids of all ages.

Reggie has been recognized as a leader within the Walt Disney Co., and in the world of sports, as evidenced by his No. 88 ranking in Sports Illustrated's list of the "101 Most Influential Minorities in Sports" in May 2003. Despite such an impressive accolade, Reggie is quick to deflect attention to his talented Sports and Recreation team:

"The recognition in Sports Illustrated has been a tremendous honor, however, the acknowledgement is not about one individual. It is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of our entire team of more than 2,000 cast members."

In the mid 1990s, Reggie oversaw the creation of Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, a state-of-the-art 200-acre multi-sport facility that opened on March 28, 1997. Promising a truly unique destination in the heart of the world's most popular vacation destination, Reggie forged key sports industry relationships with Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), the nation's largest amateur sports organization, and others. The Braves moved their spring training and minor league baseball operations to the sports complex in 1997. The AAU relocated its national headquarters to Walt Disney World Resort in 1996, bringing more than 30 annual national championship events to the complex.

In 1998, Reggie was named Vice President of Disney Sports Attractions, overseeing a newly created Sports & Recreation division that merged Walt Disney World Resort Recreation, Water Parks, and Disney Sports Attractions, which included Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, the Walt Disney World Speedway, and Walt Disney World Golf. With the promotion, Reggie assumed responsibility for sports development and management, sales and marketing, budgeting and strategy, sports industry relations, new product development, and merchandise strategy and operations.

Prior to arriving at Disney, Reggie played 14 seasons in the NFL and appeared in two Super Bowls - XVI (1982) and XXIII (1989). During his playing career, Reggie received numerous honors, including selection to the NFL All-Rookie Team (1976), the Byron "Whizzer" White Award for Humanitarian Service (1985), the NFL Man of the Year (1986), and Sports Illustrated's Co-Sportsman of the Year (1987).

In addition to his football and humanitarian accomplishments, Reggie was appointed to an open seat on the Cincinnati City Council in 1988 and was re-elected for a second term in 1989. After retiring from the NFL, Reggie joined the World Football League as the Vice President/General Manager of the New Jersey Knights. He later rejoined the National Football League with the opening of the first Youth Education Town (YET) in Los Angeles. Reggie remains involved with many service organizations and projects today, including The United Way, the National Consortium for Academics and Sports, Give Kids the World, and the Peter Westbrook Foundation. Reggie continues to tackle the many challenges and opportunities that have made Disney's Sports and Recreation division such a successful and dynamic business unit. Most importantly, Reggie recognizes the impact that Sports and Recreation is having on the Walt Disney Company and its guests:

"My greatest personal satisfaction is that we are making a difference in children's lives. We are creating experiences that they would not have anywhere else. We are giving kids the opportunity to compete in sports and we are providing experiences that will positively shape their lives and make them successful individuals."

 

 

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