Following a season of perseverance, the Kingsport Axmen on Friday were named the Appalachian League’s organization of the year.
During their inaugural season, the Axmen introduced theme nights to the Kingsport community, fashioned favorable attendance figures and formed a new team in the middle of the season.
“This award means a lot for multiple reasons, but personally the biggest reason being that it shines light on the entire organization,” said Steve Brice, general manager of the Axmen. “We had an amazing intern class this season as well as a great group of game day staff. Our fans were great and supported us from day one continuing to do so throughout the entire season. Another reason this honor means so much is that it was voted on by our peers in the league who have all worked tirelessly throughout the season and know what it takes to be successful.”
In July, the club was informed that its players and on-field staff would not be completing the season as scheduled after a player made threats. Roughly 24 hours after that announcement, a new team was formed and playing games just a day later.
The organization was determined to continue the season not only for the fans, but also for the nine other clubs in the league to ensure their schedules remained intact.
“In over 20 years, I’ve never experienced anything like the year we had in Kingsport,” said Chris Allen, president of Boyd Sports, which runs the team. “The adversity that Steve Brice and his team faced this past summer was extremely challenging however, they met these challenges head on and handled it with a smile on their face.”
The community was a big factor in the outlook of the organization. This past season introduced theme nights like Margaritaville Night and Sandlot Night and included an appearance from the Amazing Tyler, helping enhance the fan experience in the Kingsport market.
Overall, attendance grew 37% over the 2019 season with an average of 1,228 fans inside the ballpark each game. On June 30, the Axmen saw their highest game attendance: 3,216 fans.
Axmen players also visited the Miracle Field and Niswonger Children’s Hospital during the season.
Other league honors saw Greeneville’s Kat Foster named executive of the year, Burlington receive the Promotional Award of Excellence, Princeton garner the Patriot Award for its outstanding support of U.S. Armed Forces and veterans, and Bristol win the Lee Landers Community Service Award.