• Baylor alumna looks to take surfing mainstream as World Surf League CEO

    Sophie Goldschmidt

    There’s a sense in the surfing community that a critical mass for the sport may be close at hand. Two years from now, surfing will debut as a sport in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Next month, the first-ever Founders Cup will be held in California.

    In these crucial times for the sport, surfing needed a proven global leader in the sports industry to navigate the opportunities that lie ahead — and they turned to a Baylor Bear.

    Sophie Goldschmidt, BBA ’98, was named CEO of the World Surf League (WSL) last summer, providing her with a unique step in a career filled with worldwide leadership.

    “It was pretty out of the blue,” Goldschmidt told ESPN recently. “I was like, ‘Wow, this really exists?’ It just felt right. A job’s never felt so right, and I’m loving it.”

    Goldschmidt (pictured above left) is the first female CEO of the WSL, which serves as the governing body for professional surfers and oversees a growing list of competitive events around the globe. The former Baylor tennis player and assistant coach’s resume and reputation made her a natural fit to lead a global league. Goldschmidt has previously served as manager of marketing for tennis and women’s soccer at Adidas, vice president of marketing and sponsorships for the Women’s Tennis Association, vice president for marketing and business development for the NBA’s efforts to grow the sport in Europe, leader of the marketing efforts for the Rugby Football Union, and group managing director for CSM Sports and Entertainment.

    Originally from London, Goldschmidt admits she felt “culture shock” when she first came to Baylor to play tennis. While an injury derailed her career, her dual majors in economics and international business in the Hankamer School of Business provided her with an academic background she’s clearly put to use. Upon graduation from Baylor, she stayed on to take graduate classes and served as an assistant coach for the women’s tennis team before joining Adidas.

    In a busy first year on the job, Goldschmidt has overseen an exclusive multi-million dollar partnership with Facebook, negotiated with the city of Honolulu for contest permits, changed the WSL’s event calendar and even dealt with a shark sighting before an event her first week on the job (the event was paused and eventually finished with no problems). As the sport prepares for its turn in the Olympic games, Goldschmidt plans to work on a variety of endeavors to take the sport from semi-niche to mainstream. “These are incredibly exciting times for the sport,” she says; “Otherwise, quite frankly, I wouldn’t have taken the opportunity.”

    Sic ’em, Sophie!

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