COO & Commissioner
Justin Sellers currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer and Commissioner of the Coastal Plain League. As COO and Commissioner, Sellers has worked alongside CPL Chief Executive Officer Jerry Petitt, league owners, general managers, and numerous front office staffs to raise the CPL’s reputation to that of being the premier summer collegiate baseball league in the country. In addition to his role with the CPL, he is currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce, and is a member of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance (GRSA) Advisory Board.
In January of 2013, Sellers was named the new Commissioner of the Coastal Plain League at the age of 32. Known throughout the league for his passion and ability to unite, he has worked tirelessly to bring all CPL franchises to the table and focus them toward a common goal. In doing so, the CPL has experienced unparalleled growth and popularity. Sellers has helped expand the league into four new markets - Holly Springs, N.C. (2015), Savannah, Ga., (2016), Macon, Ga. (2018), and Colonial Heights, Va. (2020) - in the last five years. He’s guided teams to important milestones, such as the transition to live-video streaming of all league games and televising the CPL All-Star Event to over 25 million households as well as seeing the event streamed on MLB.com.
Sellers has also worked hard to make the CPL the leading force for the development of baseball’s future. In doing so, he’s seen CPL stadiums outfitted with stat-tracking units from TrackMan Baseball, as well as partnering with USA Baseball and Major League Baseball on player development initiatives like PitchSmart, Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) events, and exhibition contests with the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team and other international opponents. Further, he has worked with leadership at Minor League Baseball Umpire Development to grow the league’s training ground for the professional umpires of tomorrow. As the CPL heads into its 24th season in 2020, it boasts over 1,600 drafted alumni, including 131 Major Leaguers; while also witnessing almost 200 umpires get contracts into Minor League Baseball, including four that have debuted in the Bigs.
After six years as Media Relations Director for the Coastal Plain League, Sellers was promoted to Assistant Commissioner. In this new role, Sellers continue to take on more responsibilities, especially on the operational side of the league. In addition to serving as the league statistician, he became tasked with creating the league’s schedule each year, as well as launching the league’s internship program. He helped the CPL transition from a postseason tournament that was played in one location to a three-round playoffs system that has added home gates (and revenue) for the teams that qualify each year. Sellers also led the charge to grow the CPL’s brand identity by creating national partnerships, such as with Baseball America, and working to highlight the league’s accomplishments through both traditional and social media platforms. Teaming up with Baseball America, the league launched the CPL Corner, which highlights bi-weekly accolades for the league, its franchises, players, and communities. The partnership, which continues to this day, has helped generate over $3 million in exposure and national coverage for the CPL as a whole.
Following the 2011 season, Sellers leadership was recognized nationally as league owners and others around the CPL and elsewhere nominated him for Ballpark Digest’s National Executive of the Year. While the award ultimately went to the owner/operator of the Omaha Storm Chasers (a Triple-A franchise), Sellers was acknowledged as one of eight honorable mentions across the country for the award which was open to executives at all levels of baseball (affiliated, independent, college and summer collegiate baseball).
Joining the CPL while a sophomore in college, Sellers took a summer internship that led into a full-time role as Director of Media Relations. He immediately aided the league’s franchises in helping usher them into the 21st century through the areas of web design, Internet marketing, and social media. The CPL became the first summer league in the country that created its own broadcasting system and its own live stats program – both of which have aided soon-to-be college graduates in building their portfolios and obtaining jobs in the professional ranks.
Sellers, an alum of N.C. State University, started in baseball while in school, where he was a student Sports Information Director. He was the SID for the Wolfpack women’s volleyball program, as well as the assistant SID for the baseball and wrestling teams. Additionally, he spent time assisting the SID office staff with football and men’s and women’s basketball. He also gained valuable experience in all aspects of operating major collegiate athletics by working numerous ACC and NCAA tournaments and championship events.
Director of media & content development
The 2020 season will mark the eighth year in the Coastal Plain League for Shelby Hilliard, and her seventh as the Director of Media & Content Development. Hilliard, originally from Comanche, Texas, came to the CPL from Texas Tech University, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.S. in Exercise Sports Sciences in 2012. She then went on to graduate school, earning an M.S. in Exercise Sports Sciences with a focus on Sport and Exercise Psychology, as well as an M.A. in Mass Communications with a focus on Sports Media in May of 2014.
During her time in graduate school, Hilliard taught four sections of Theories and Principles of Exercise Psychology; while also working with her advisor and fellow graduate students on multiple research projects - with three studies reaching publication. She incorporates this knowledge and experience with research to the league through studies on CPL consumer habits, player satisfaction, player/team statistical trends and more.
Hilliard started with the CPL during the summer of 2013 when she served as a league office intern before coming on full time following graduate school in 2014. Since joining the league she has been a driving force in growing the league in all forms of media and heightening the CPL brand as a whole. In her tenure, the league has grown to reach three million users on social media and almost 400 million people across all media platforms each season, numbers that continue to grow every year. An integral part of this success comes from Hilliard's creation of the CPL Multimedia Internship Program, in which a promising student is placed with each CPL team to work for the league office. Through this program the league has gained invaluable content creation and helped grow the following of not only the league's brand but each of its individual team's brands as well. The program has also given students a rare portfolio building opportunity and produced a number of promising young media professionals since its creation in 2017. In addition to this program, Hilliard also oversees the league's General Internship Program, in which students spend their summer working out of the league office in a number of areas.
Under her supervision and direction, the CPL now streams all regular season and postseason games via its own streaming platform - cplbaseball.tv. Further expanding the brand's reach, fans also have access to games through popular streaming services such as Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Android TV. Each night she monitors and promotes games by editing highlights and other content for distribution on the league's media platforms - as well as landing spots on national platforms such as SportsCenter, Yahoo Sports, Sports Illustrated and more.
Outside of her work with the Coastal Plain League, Shelby's passions include visiting her family back in rural Texas, woodworking, being active and traveling the world. She aspires to visit all of the Seven Wonders of the World, attend every major sporting event's championship series/game and to one day win CBS's Survivor.
Catherine Roth heddinger
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS & SPONSORSHIPS
A native of Poquoson, Va., Catherine Roth Heddinger is very familiar with the CPL and its teams as she enters her 10th season in the Coastal Plain League in the 2020 season as the Director of Operations and Partnerships. Before joining the league office, she spent five years with the CPL’s Morehead City franchise, starting as an intern in 2013 before becoming the team’s Director of Operations for the 2014 season and soon the General Manager for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. She was also an intern for the CPL’s Peninsula Pilots during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
Catherine obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Virginia Tech in 2014. During her time in college, she served as the Recruiting and Events Intern for the Hokies baseball team, while also interning for the CPL’s Peninsula Pilots (2011-2012 seasons) and the Morehead City Marlins (2013 season) over her summer breaks.
In her tenure as the General Manager in Morehead City, she worked to increase the community presence for the Marlins while partnering with local organizations and charities such as the Austin Sherron Foundation, Boys and Girls Club, RAAB Cancer Clinic, Relay for Life, and more. Under Heddinger and head coach Jason Wood during the 2016 season, the Marlins made their way back to the CPL Petitt Cup Playoffs for the first time since the club’s inaugural season in 2010.
During her time with the Coastal Plain League, Heddinger works with CPL general managers, coaches, and front office staff to continue to raise the bar of operating at the highest level. While working alongside Commissioner Justin Sellers, she is an integral part of creating and building Coastal Plain League partnerships on both sides of the game, including Trackman Baseball, USA Baseball, and initiatives such as PitchSmart, Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) events. Additionally, Heddinger cultivated the league’s newest partnership with Black Tie Transportation, the official transportation partner of the Coastal Plain League, to bring guaranteed safety and comfort to players, coaches, and staff when traveling from Virginia to Georgia through the season.
In her time away from her work with the Coastal Plain League, Catherine loves spending time on the water while fishing and crabbing, on the boat, or simply relaxing on the beach. She enjoys concerts and makes visiting her friends and family a priority, followed by traveling to as many sporting events and venues as possible, with her passion for the game of baseball taking the focus of her experiences.
Created with images by NeONBRAND - "untitled image" • Chris Briggs - "Clean unused baseball."