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Susan Bernhard joined grass-roots sports marketing operation Streetball International in 1995 after several years in tennis and general event marketing. Recently promoted to VP-sponsorship development for parent company Universal Sports America, she has helped reel in several new sponsors to Streetball's NBA-endorsed "Hoop-It-Up" and other participant sports events. New sponsors include Hyundai Motor America and Taylor Made Golf Co. Events include basketball, football, hockey, baseball and golf for kids through adults.

Age: 33.

Coup: Breaking attendance records at recent events in Omaha and Dallas. In some markets we've drawn more than 1,200 participants per event.

Secret: Letting amateurs feel like pros. Creating an atmosphere for sponsors to integrate their messages into the experience.

Growth area: Grass-roots marketing events for kids. More sponsors are realizing the power of reaching kids as early as possible, establishing a connection and building loyalty.

Watch for: More sponsorship money from the technology and telecom sectors, targeting families and kids.

Tip: Grass-roots marketing doesn't take money away from traditional media. It's usually from local or merchandising budgets. Ad agencies are slowly learning the value of partnering with grass-roots groups, rather than fearing them.

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