He asked an engineering major, a student at Eastern Kentucky University, to build a platform on wheels large enough and sturdy enough to hold a couple of females. He recruited waitresses from a local restaurant franchise.

Brian Corcoran told them to smile, wave their hands and launch rolled-up T-shirts into the crowd of Colonels fans using bungee cords. It was 1991 and this sort of promotion was still a bit novel, especially in Richmond, Ky. A bit controversial, too, even if the young man from Old Orchard Beach didn’t fully appreciate the raised eyebrows.

“We were in the Bible Belt,” said Corcoran, sitting in his office Thursday at Shamrock Sports Group in Portland’s Old Port. “Some of the proud, loyal, local alums didn’t approve of scantily clad young ladies throwing things into the stands.”

The women were Hooters waitresses. The Hooters logo was on the T-shirts. The young ladies and the promotion were called Hooters Shooters. Hooters money went to the university in return. Quickly, a new job path was presented to Corcoran.

He took it.

Corcoran had left Maine for Eastern Kentucky to run the half-mile on its track team and prepare for a career in sports medicine. If his lungs and speed couldn’t lead him to the Olympics, maybe he could help others. He believed in the wellness of body and mind. He still does.

He hates to lose and at 41 years old he may be more a player today than in his youth. No one buys a ticket to watch him compete. You would buy tickets to what his company promotes or presents. He’s not the most visible component in the sports food chain, but one of its most important.

He’s the matchmaker, marrying sports properties with sponsors. Think Arena Football League, a new Shamrock client. It took a year off after the cash dried up and very few leagues find wind in their sails after lying dead in the water. They sink, typically.

The AFL may be a disappointing facsimile of the real thing to some, but it has life. It seems out of sight, out of mind to Mainers who don’t have the NFL Network and the closest teams are in Cleveland, Chicago and Jacksonville. But Boston is in line to get a franchise for next season.

Think Maine Sports Commission, or whatever its final name will be. The concept has been kicked around for some time but Corcoran has helped push it along. Don’t confuse this group with the panel of commissioners appointed by the governor to set rules and regulations for sports such as mixed martial arts.

Maine has needed a commission to help bid for sports events and promote, market and help organize those events. Think the Maine Distance Festival at Bowdoin College, which ran into oblivion because too much was left to too few to keep it operating.

Corcoran’s father was a police sergeant on the Old Orchard Beach force handling everything from speeding tickets to riots that took place in the 1980s. Mom ran a beauty salon. Corcoran learned to listen and to communicate from them. He left small-town, beach town America for an 18,000-student university and later New York City to head up NASCAR’s corporate marketing. A stop in Boston was next to be part of that unlikely partnership between NASCAR team owner Jack Roush and John Henry, principal owner of the Red Sox.

“It was an interesting dynamic,” said Corcoran. “You could tell who wore the pants. Jack’s up on the (steering) wheel and John was behind, drafting, taking it all in like a sponge. It’s been a very complementary relationship because both understand they’re better served by staying in their own sandboxes.”

For a Maine kid it was a dream come true. Invite a potential sponsor or client to the Fenway Sports Group’s box 40 or 50 times a year and watch the Red Sox.

“Except it was a job. I couldn’t be a fan.”

Corcoran left FSG at the end of 2009. It was time to play for his own team in his home state. His career has put him in contact with some of the movers and shakers in sports and some athletes. His favorites are two of Maine’s own: Joan Samuelson and Ricky Craven.

“Mostly because they beat the odds.” Samuelson, with her remarkable performance in the 1984 Olympic Marathon Trials after knee surgery and then winning her gold medal. Craven, by overcoming the social barriers of being a New England Yankee in a NASCAR world 20 years ago that was still rooted and governed by Dixie attitudes.

“They chose to dream the impossible,” said Corcoran. He would know.

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

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