Basketball Travelers Inc.
We are a company established in 1985 to arrange domestic and international basketball competition. Our staff is comprised of former coaches and players who have an outstanding network of basketball contacts around the world. All but one of our staff members competed in athletics at the collegiate level.
Over 200 collegiate and high school teams participate annually in tours and tournaments organized by Basketball Travelers, Inc. In addition, we organize NCAA foreign exhibition games as well as international Olympic-qualifying tournaments for national teams.
As basketball’s popularity and skill level continues to grow around the world, Basketball Travelers, Inc. seeks not only to contribute to the sport’s development, but also to facilitate goodwill and understanding between nations and peoples of all backgrounds.
Nels Hawkinson, Executive Director
Nels is the executive director of BTI and is a well-known and respected member of the international basketball community. Nels has a masters degree in Sports Administration, has played and coached in the US and overseas, and is a certified FIBA instructor. He has traveled to 50+ countries to establish his network of international basketball contacts. Nels lives in Shoreline with his wife and co-worker, Nancy, along with their 2 children.
Neal Holden, President
Neal directs the business and administrative end of BTI. His knowledge of computers and background as a systems analyst have been instrumental in keeping BTI’s daily operations running smoothly and efficiently. Neal has a master’s degree in Business Administration and also has experience playing and coaching professional basketball in France and Norway. He lives in Bremerton with his wife, Linda, and their 2 children.
Erik Evans, Vice President – Tournaments
Since 1992, Erik has been running the high school San Diego Surf ‘N Slam Tournament, which has grown into one of the largest Christmas-time high school competitions in the U.S. Erik also coordinates the men’s NCAA Division I MTE tournaments such as Basketball Travelers and World Vision Classics. Erik played basketball during his undergraduate years at Seattle Pacific University and also interned at BTI. He lives in Seattle with his wife, Stephanie, and their 3 children.
Nancy Hawkinson, Creative Services Director
Nancy’s duties include publications coordination, and taking care of the special details that make BTI’s tours and tournaments unique. She has worked for BTI since 1988, but after the birth of her and Nels’ two children, she now works part-time. Nancy played basketball at the University of Washington and professionally in Denmark.
Jason Sarkies, Tournament Director/Sponsorship Coordinator
Jason directs the Phoenix Cactus Jam, a boys and girls high school and Men’s Div. III basketball tournament in the Tempe area held every Christmas. He also oversees coordination of summer overseas tours. Jason played football at Willamette University and finished his undergraduate work at Seattle Pacific University. After completing his masters in Athletic Administration at Ohio State, he began working full-time for BTI in 1995.
Craig Jonas, Ph.D, Chief Operations Officer
Craig markets BTI to collegiate coaches nationwide and also consults on BTI’s sponsorship and television contracts. He recently stepped down as VP of Business Development for SportVision and Coaches Edge to pursue duties as a marketing consultant with the Jonas Group and to complete his PhD from Kansas University in Sport Psychology. Craig coached at Lakeland College and has served as an advisor on the Olympic Committee and the South African Professional Basketball League. He is also a certified FIBA clinician. Craig lives in Littleton, Colorado with his wife, Seanna, and their two children.
Jennifer Ashby, Tour Administrator/Tournament Director
Jenn co-directs the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam, BTI’s Division I tournament in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. Jenn also works directly with Nels, primarily handling the administrative details involved in the organization of foreign and domestic tours. Jenn played basketball at Puget Sound Christian College.
Becky Johnson, Travel Manager
Becky brings decades of experience in the travel industry to Basketball Travelers. Becky began as a Travel Agent in 1979 and coordinates the air ticketing and hotel bookings for our many tours and tournaments.
Sean Christensen, Director of Media
Sean directs media relations for all Basketball Travelers Inc. related events including the World University Games, Paradise Jam, and Junkanoo Jam Tournaments. He also oversees BTI’s websites and social media initiatives. Sean is an Idaho native and has a BA in Communication from Boise State University and a Masters in Athletic Administration from Idaho State University. Sean has a background in Television News and has also served as a Digital Media Producer/Marketing Assistant for Boise State University Athletics. He came to BTI from the University of Wyoming where he was the Creative Director of Athletics. Sean lives in Seattle with his wife Kiersten.
Sara Mosiman , Tournament and Tour Director
Sara works directly with the Executive Director in planning and directing the World University Games and World University Championships. She is the main women’s event contact, and specifically co-directs the Junkanoo Jam while handling contractual work for all events and tours. A Seattle-native, Sara earned a BA in Communications and Women’s Studies at the University of Washington, where she was a four-year letter recipient for the Women’s Basketball Program. She has worked with Sports Radio 950 KJR as well as the color analyst on UWTV and Xfinity On-Demand for University of Washington Basketball. She lives in Fremont with her two best friends, also former UW athletes.
Brian Ratzliff , Executive Director- Special Projects
At BTI, Brian provides leadership in the area of future projects and products that BTI is evaluating as part of its ongoing growth strategy. Since 1994, Brian has held successive positions of leadership in technology focused companies, most recently as the Co-founder & President of WhatCounts, Inc, a leading permission email firm that was sold to Mansell Group and Riverside, a private equity firm. Previously, he was part of the leadership team at ShareBuilder.com which was sold to ING, and was a member of the product management and business development team at Starwave Corporation, a Paul Allen company sold to Disney and ESPN. Brian holds an MBA from the Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario, Canada and a BA from Trinity Western University in Vancouver, Canada.
Ben Scheffler , Tournament Administrator
Ben is heading up the U.S. high school and AAU tours to overseas destinations, as well as incoming foreign youth tours to the United States. Ben also handles many of the details for the Paradise Jam tournament as well as spends time researching and developing ideas for new company interests. He has led several foreign tours for NCAA universities and has also helped administrate numerous tournaments. Ben was an assistant basketball coach for Seattle Pacific University, where he also played for four years.
Brooke Poraj-Kuczewski, Tournament Administrator
Brooke brings Division I coaching and playing experience to her position here at BTI as a tour and tournament administrator. Her main duties are administration of the “Junkanoo Jam” Grand Bahama Island women’s NCAA Div. I basketball tournament and coordination of summer tours. Brooke graduated from UNLV, where she played four years of basketball, followed by one year as an assistant coach. She has worked for BTI since 2002, but since the birth of her children, she now works part-time.
Gary Cunningham, Ph.D, Executive Consultant
Dr. Cunningham officially joined the Basketball Travelers, Inc. staff in February 2009. He will act as the lead liaison with NCAA Division I Athletics Directors and Conference Commissioners. He will also work closely with the Basketball Travelers team to communicate with the NCAA on legislative issues and to create new international sports opportunities for the company. Dr. Cunningham was most recently the Athletics Director at UC Santa Barbara, retiring in 2008 following a thirteen-year stint there. Dr. Cunningham began his career at UCLA in 1967 as an assistant coach under John Wooden. He took over as head coach in 1977, compiling a 50-8 record over two years, the highest winning percentage of any UCLA coach. In 1979 he left the coaching ranks to embark on a career in athletic administration, serving as Athletics Director at four different universities over the past thirty years. Dr. Cunningham is currently the President of the United States International University Sports Federation, overseeing Team USA in the World University Games and World University Championships. He also serves on several boards including the National Association of Basketball Coaches Blue Ribbon Committee. Dr. Cunningham has been the recipient of many prestigious honors and awards, including the NACDA James J. Corbett Award and the Division I-AAA Athletic Directors Association Lifetime Achievement Award, which was subsequently named after him.
Sean McShane, Tournament Director
Sean has been involved with Basketball Travelers, Inc. since 1996. After graduating from Saint Martin’s College in Olympia, Washington, Sean spent extensive time overseas as a player, coach and basketball administrator. His experiences include the Australian ABA and NBL as well as the American CBA where he served as an assistant coach and director of sales. He also coached at both Saint Martin’s College and TCU in Fort Worth, Texas where he still resides. His duties with BTI include directing the Junkanoo Jam tournament in Freeport, Bahamas as well as assisting with the Surf ‘N Slam tournament, MTE events and overseas tours.
Jason Taylor, Director for Turkey
Jason is a 1992 graduate of California State University, Chico. While there he was a member of 3 Conference Champion teams under Prescott Smith. His passion for basketball and travel have always coincided. Jason founded the New Life Basketball Tournament in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan after living there for one year. He then came back to the States to play 5 seasons for Athletes in Action’s USA team and numerous international teams. In 2003, Jason and his wife Sara moved to Istanbul, Turkey with their 3 children where he enjoys the responsibility of looking out for BTI’s future business interests. Jason also serves as a sport consultant to the wide variety of professional sports teams throughout Turkey.
Stephen Blackley , Australian Director of USA Basketball Tours
Steve is based in Melbourne, Australia and is heading up the incoming foreign youth and senior tours from Australia to the United States. Steve has participated in 7 tours to the USA as both a coach and a player, ranging from high school to NCAA Division I competition. In his playing days, Steve played in the NBL and also the Australian ABA where he was involved in four conference championships. He is currently the Head Coach and Coaching Director at Camberwell Grammar School.
Fred Williams, BTI Ministry Coach
Fred serves as ministry-coach for Basketball Travelers Inc. Fred is available for all BTI clients and partners. He has been a pastor since 1986 and is currently on staff with Alderwood Community Church in nearby Lynnwood, Washington. He is a graduate of Pacific Coast Bible College (1986 – B.S. Theology) and Talbot School of Theology (1991 – M.Div Expository Preaching). He has served as a BTI tour host for many teams as well as the Paradise Jam in the US Virgin Islands. He shares a love for sports with his wife Sue, daughter Jill, and son Brayden and, in addition to being a pastor, currently serves as chaplain to the Everett Aqua Sox (Single A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners). Please feel free to contact Fred at any time for private counsel.