In the weeks leading up to the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl, which will take place on Saturday, December 31 at State Farm Stadium and serve as a College Football Playoff Semifinal Game, AZ Big Media is sitting down with a member of the Fiesta Bowl family every Friday to shine a light on the event itself but also all the ways that the organization drives economic growth and champions charitable causes, inspiring pride in all Arizonans during and outside of college football bowl season.

READ ALSO: Fiesta Bowl Friday with Ramey Peru

READ ALSO: Fiesta Bowl Friday with Davina Seville

Today, we sit down to talk Bowl memories and impact with Kristina Chumpol, senior director of community relations for the Fiesta Bowl; and Ryan Hatch, Fiesta Bowl Yellow Jacket Committee member and 2022-23 Fiesta Bowl Fundraising Committee Chair, who also serves as senior vice president and market manager of Bonneville Phoenix.

Kristina Chumpol

AZ Big Media: When did you begin working for the Fiesta Bowl, and what are the primary functions of the job?

Kristina Chumpol

Chumpol: I started with the organization in 2019, and my primary role is to develop and manage programs that contribute to the overall awareness of Fiesta Bowl Charities. The Fiesta Bowl is dedicated to providing premier college football bowl experiences and local events that serve as economic drivers for Arizona and provide charitable resources for our community. Our charitable focus in supporting youth, sports and education front and center.

AZ Big Media: What has been your favorite Fiesta Bowl game to date as a spectator and why?

Chumpol: Watching Ohio State defeat Miami at the 2003 Fiesta Bowl in double overtime. Maurice Clarett took it in for the final touchdown and I loved watching that Buckeyes defense hold Miami to only one yard after a first and goal for the last three plays of the game. O-H-I-O!

AZ Big Media: Let’s talk about some of the impact the Fiesta Bowl makes in the community. Tell us about one of its key programs.

Chumpol: Davina did a great job sharing about the Palo Verde Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers, which is one of our signature programs. A lesser-known project we completed this year but connects to supporting youth and education is our recent work with Alhambra High School. We were looking to broaden our reach with schools across Arizona beyond Wishes for Teachers and learned that Alhambra needed a new staff and teacher lounge. The renovation itself was a week-long project for Fiesta Bowl staff and volunteers, with assistance and support from the Alhambra facilities team that allowed the project to be completed so quickly.  Alhambra educators gathered with our representatives in September for a ribbon cutting ceremony and reveal of the new lounge. Staff and teachers were immediately able to utilize their new space’s upgraded furniture and facilities.

Alhambra’s teachers and staff serve over 2,000 students and families in one of Phoenix’s most high-need communities. The Alhambra student body has 95% minority enrollment and a significant refugee population, with 52 countries and over 44 languages represented among its students.

Amid an ongoing teacher shortage across Arizona, requiring many educators to pull extra weight, the renovated lounge provides support for Alhambra’s teachers in their commitment to the students and families they serve. The lounge at Alhambra is the fifth staff and teacher lounge Fiesta Bowl Charities has renovated since 2021.

AZ Big Media: Tell us something interesting about you outside of work and your Fiesta Bowl role?

Chumpol: Before joining the Bowl, I held multiple roles with the Boys & Girls Clubs, most recently as director of programs & partnerships for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale. Beyond my role with the organization, I was a long-time “Club kid” myself, and I even served as a two-time “Youth of the Year” and Arizona State Boys & Girls Clubs Youth of the Year back in the day.

Ryan Hatch

AZ Big Media: When did you begin volunteering for the Fiesta Bowl?

Ryan Hatch

Hatch: I joined the Yellow Jacket Committee in 2016, but through my role with Arizona Sports 987 and 620 KTAR, which I helped to launch locally in 2016, I have worked closely with the organization for more than 15 years. 

AZ Big Media: What is your role as the Yellow Jacket Committee Fundraising Chair and what are your general goals?

Hatch: I’m responsible for leading fundraising efforts for the Yellow Jackets, and I report to the committee chair, Ramey Peru, throughout that process. Our goal is to raise more than $3.4 million for the organization through game tickets, partnerships and annual events like our Arizona Bank & Trust Kickoff Luncheon presented by Caesars Sportsbook and PNC Fiesta Bowl Par 3 Golf Challenge presented by Chapman Automotive. I have three assistants and 12 team captains along with Fiesta Bowl staff who provide the committee with the tools they need to reach their individual goals and that overall goal. All money raised is invest back into the community through programs like Palo Verde Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers.

AZ Big Media: What has been your favorite Fiesta Bowl game to date?

Hatch: It would have to be the 2005 Fiesta Bowl, which was the first Bowl Championship Series (BCS) game to feature a team from a BCS non-automatically qualifying power conference. That, however, is not why it is my favorite. The game, which featured Utah against Pittsburgh, ranks above the others because I was able to watch then-Utah quarterback Alex Smith and then-coach Urban Meyer cap off a perfect season surrounded by 30,000 Utah fans, including me (an alum). 

AZ Big Media: Any memorable moments while working the Fiesta Bowl game itself?

Hatch: The first one that sticks out came while I worked the Bowl as a member of the media. I moved to the Valley to build and launch Sports 620 KTAR (now Arizona Sports 98.7 FM & ESPN 620) and our first day in the all-sports format was January 1, 2007. Even though we were the flagship station for the Suns, Cardinals, Diamondbacks and Sun Devils, the first play-by-play broadcast to ever air on the station was the legendary Boise State vs. Oklahoma overtime Fiesta Bowl game.

AZ Big Media: Why is volunteering as a Yellow Jacket so important to you?

Hatch: It is so rewarding to support nonprofits and improve our community through a sport that I’m personally so passionate about.

AZ Big Media: Any favorite roles of jobs as a member of the Fiesta Bowl Yellow Jacket Committee?

Hatch: I have been lucky to serve as chair and assistant chair for VIP hospitality several times over. It doesn’t get much better than showcasing our world-class, high-touch hospitality with the athletic directors, coaches, boosters and their families.

AZ Big Media: Let’s talk about some of the impact the Fiesta Bowl makes in the community. Tell us about one of its key programs.

Hatch: Due to revenue generated from the two annual bowl games in the Valley, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl and the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, as well as community events throughout the year, Fiesta Bowl Charities awarded grants to 40 Arizona nonprofits through its 2022-23 Grant Cycle, impacting an estimated 1 million Arizonans. Through those grants Ability360 will purchase equipment for youth-focused outdoor activities such as track & field, archery, kayaking and more; Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation will be able to provide awards for athletic activities, tutoring, camp, prom expenses, classes, swimming lessons and other extracurricular activities that are not funded otherwise; and the Arizona Science Center will underwrite the planning, materials and delivery of STEM education programs, including Focused Field Trips and Science on Wheels, for 5,070 children from Title I schools.

AZ Big Media: Tell us something interesting about you outside of work and your Fiesta Bowl role?

Hatch: I was the child lead in the Utah Opera Company’s production of Gianni Schicchi when I was 8 years old.