Our Team

Ricardo Valerdi

Chief Scientist, Founder

Dr. Ricardo Valerdi is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Science of Sport. He developed the Science of Baseball, Science of Soccer, Science of Basketball, and Science of Football programs in collaboration with MLB, MLS, NBA, and NCAA teams, respectively.

Dr. Valerdi received his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in 2005 and was on the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 2005-2011. Since 2011, he has been a Professor of Systems and Industrial Engineering at the University of Arizona where he is also the Pac-12 Faculty Athletics Representative and the Director of the Sports Management Program at the Eller College of Management. In 2018 he was a Visiting Professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

In addition to his academic endeavors, Dr. Valerdi has been a consultant to the Department of Defense, SpaceX, and the NCAA.

Daren Heaton

Executive Director

Daren is the Executive Director for Science of Sport and has been able to expand programming throughout the country that includes providing STEM programs for over 20 professional sports teams.. Prior to being the Executive Director, Daren was the Vice President of Business Development. Daren runs the day to day operations for Science of Sport and focuses on strategic planning on how Science of Sport provides engaging curriculum and programming throughout the country.

Daren previously worked for the Arizona Diamondbacks and has been in the sports industry for 10+ years. During his time with the D-backs he was the Manager of Education Initiatives, which managed all education programs in the community through the Sales Department and started the first D-backs Science of Baseball program. Heaton also worked for the Los Angeles Galaxy from 2009 to 2011 where he was a Group Sales Account Executive. He got his start in sports by completing the Inside Sales program with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2008.

Daren was born and raised in Mesa, Arizona and graduated from Texas A and M – Corpus Christi where he played college baseball. Daren hobbies include watching/playing any sports and trying to shoot under 90 on the golf course on a regular basis.

Meghan Marriott

Community Outreach Manager

Meghan began working with Science of Sport as a Youth Ambassador for the Arizona Diamondbacks Science of Baseball in 2014, helping run camps and visit school programs. She then moved into Science of Sport as the Program Coordinator and transitioned into the role of Community Outreach Coordinator.

Now as Community Outreach Manager, Meghan functions as the link between Science of Sport, our partners, and the teachers and students we serve, oversees volunteer and internship opportunities, and plans and organizes the annual Science of Sport Charity Golf Tournament.

Her passion for athletics and education started as a swim instructor and coach in her teens, which turned into an assistant coaching position for her alma mater high school swim and dive team. Meghan is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine with a Bachelor of Science in Health Science in Physiology with a minor in Spanish. Meghan is a member of the Arizona Chapter of WISE and is a regular volunteer for Two Pups Wellness Foundation and it’s partners.

Carly Stevens

Program Development Executive

Carly is a native of Chicago and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a BBA in Sports Management in 2015. She loves sports and is passionate about many of them – tennis, basketball, football – however, she played and excels at soccer. Carly was the 2011 Chicago Tribune Girls High School Soccer Player of the Year her senior year of high school. She was an All American and played Division I college soccer at Loyola. She began coaching soccer teams after graduation and began her career in sports working for the WNBA Chicago Sky in community relations and game operations. Carly worked as an Internal Operations Coordinator for a Chicago based sports marketing agency, in addition to coaching two youth girls’ soccer teams.

Carly currently resides in the Los Angeles area and is a soccer coach with the LA Galaxy South Bay travel soccer program. She loves teaching the game of soccer to the next generation of youth athletes. She hopes to instill the spirit of teamwork, competition and sportsmanship so the players can experience some of the same challenges and joy soccer has brought to her life.

Mekael Wesley-Rosa

Graphic Designer

Bri Appel

Marketing Coordinator

Bri is a Marketing & Branding Consultant helping transform brand identities and curate content for activations across social media, website, email, vlogs and digital events. After retiring from her position as a defensive soccer player, she graduated from California Lutheran University with studies in marketing, communications, sports management and graphic design. Her passion for sports lives on in her work with the sports, fitness, entertainment and media industries.

As a creative visionary and industry disruptor, Bri is forging the way for business-to-business marketing. She has a proven track record of developing strategic marketing campaigns that target professional sports teams, major motion film studios and leading streaming platforms. Her unique, creative and colorful approach is unparalleled – encompassing not only what she does but who she is.

Bri also serves as a Board Member and Vice President of Content for Women in Sports & Events, Los Angeles (WISE LA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and the leading voice and resource for women in the business of sports.

E. Ashley Dean

Program Development Consultant

Ashley is an avid sports enthusiast and an athlete for life. She graduated from Dartmouth College as a two-time captain for the Women’s Volleyball Team.

After a successful four-year career – it’s no surprise she has remained in the sports industry for over 17 years, with a proven track record for thriving in a fast-paced, dynamic environment.

Ashley is a motivated senior professional with strong relationship-building, sales, operation and revenue-generating skills. She has a history of excelling in start-up environments; defining culture, implementing policies and procedures, hiring personnel, and uplifting team morale.

Ashley has a proven ability to identify and develop new business opportunities, while meeting the needs of both the client and the organization. She has a passion for working with kids and giving back to the youth sports industry, which played a big part in her childhood.

Ashley serves on numerous boards; is the VP of Partnerships for WISE LA (Women in Sports and Events), President of the Natasha Watley Foundation, as well as Chair for the Dartmouth Women’s Volleyball Advisory Board.

She resides in Thousand Oaks, CA with her wife of ten years and their four month old son. Both are active and enjoy road biking, mountain biking, hiking, yoga and spending time with family and friends.

Gary Bennett

Board of Directors

Bennett is a former MLB catcher who was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 11th round of the 1990 MLB draft. Bennett played in the Majors for 13 seasons with eight different teams including the Phillies, New York Mets, Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers, Washington Nationals, St Louis Cardinals, and Los Angeles Dodgers. Additionally, Bennett was a member of the 2006 World Series Champion St Louis Cardinals. Bennett is heavily involved in the child development realm. He is currently the principal owner at Slammers Baseball and Softball Academy in Lake Forrest,IL, a board member at the Oak Grove School Educational Foundation, and board member at the Libertyville Little League and Libertyville Youth Baseball organizations. Bennett also currently serves as FOX Sports Midwest game analyst for the St Louis Cardinals. Other ventures Bennett is involved in include TAB-Group LLC, a residential real estate company, and GDB Enterprises Ltd, a medical device Corporation.

Michael Guymon

Board of Directors

A native of Tucson, Michael’s twenty-year professional career has primarily centered on political strategy, business development and advocacy, and organizational management.

Michael’s previous positions include: Executive Director of Metropolitan Pima Alliance; Chief-of-Staff to Tucson City Council Member Fred Ronstadt; Vice President for Governmental Affairs for the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce; and political consultant to The Bridges, a 360-acre mixed-use, infill development.

At Sun Corridor Inc., Michael is responsible for a wide range of special projects, including the Sierra Vista Technical Assistance Program, business development and executive missions.

Michael holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Arizona.

On a personal note, Michael’s passion is baseball and was the Official Scorer for the Tucson Padres between 2011-2013 and has also instructed classes as part of the University of Arizona Science of Baseball.

Cindy Trejo

Board of Directors

Dedicated to student success, Cindy Trejo is a pioneer in designing and creating policy for informal learning settings (afterschool / summer school), for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC), where she served as State Director for the Arizona Department of Education for 14 years. Raising the bar high Cindy was instrumental in developing strong STEM programs in Arizona with key partnerships including the Arizona Science Center and the Arizona Diamondbacks Major League Baseball Team. Cindy initiated the strategic alignment between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Science of Sport leading to innovative STEM programming and early access to STEM for Arizona students.

Ms. Trejo, now with the University of Arizona will continue her dedication to education in the Student Affairs, Enrollment Management, Academic Initiatives and Student Success Division. Cindy will be key in helping develop innovative programs as the University becomes a Hispanic Serving Institution.

Chad Smith

Board of Directors

Tracy Benson

Board of Directors

Andrew Snedeker

Board of Directors

A native of Arizona, Andy has spent his entire professional career within the construction and commercial real estate industry.  Throughout his career, he has been deeply involved in project management, business development, and community and economic growth.  Currently, Andy serves as a Construction Manager for Hines in Phoenix, AZ where he works on a wide array of projects including self-storage, industrial, multi-family, and senior-living developments.

Andy holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Management from Arizona State University.  In addition to Science of Sport, Andy is also a member of The Executive Council (EC70), a charitable organization which focuses on raising philanthropic funds for Arizona youth.

Sara Lamason

Board of Directors

Dave Chamberlain

Lead Curriculum Specialist

Gina Pavlov

Science of Sport Lead Instructor

Kevin Rolfe

Science Curriculum Specialist

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