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How A Hall of Famer Is Delivering Great Experiences To His Youth Baseball Programs

Best Practices, Dugout, FastPitch, FC, Sports Community, Value of LeagueApps
Via CoachUp Inc/

Via CoachUp Inc/

January 2017 Partner SportsDog Award: Dirt Dawg Sports

SportsDog Value: Grit

Award Winner: Alex Santiago

Previous Winner: Team Esface Basketball

Alex Santiago’s baseball resume is quite long.

  • Catcher of the 1982 Puerto Rico Big League Team World Champions
  • 18 years in the Puerto Rico Semi Pro Baseball League
  • Three Puerto Rican Semi-Pro Championships (1989-’91)
  • Eight All Star Selections
  • Manager, Puerto Rico National Big League Team
  • Manager of the Year, 2009
  • Silver Medal w/Women’s National Team in 2009 Pan-American Baseball Tournament
  • Inducted to Carolina (his hometown) Hall of Fame of Sports in 2013
  • Inducted to Puerto Rico Semi-Pro Baseball League Hall of Fame in 2009
  • Oldest Son of Former Red Sox Great Jose Santiago

Since 2012, Alex has been manager, instructor, and trainer of Dirt Dawgs Sports. He also serves as the program’s Information Officer.

Based out of Canton, Massachusetts, Dirt Dawg Sports is a premier baseball and softball training facility offering year-round indoor and outdoor top-notch professional baseball and softball instruction. Their mission is to work with all players to instill, cultivate, and nurture the love and passion that they have for the game.

“Dirt Dawgs is like a family,” Alex said. “You’re not just another customer. You’re treated like family. We are an all year round facility so you’re always welcome. We offer soccer, softball, we sponsor a cricket team. So everyone is welcome.”

Alex moved from Puerto Rico to the Boston area four years ago. He has been involved with all levels of baseball since he was eight years old. He even began his managerial career at the age of twelve while he was playing on the Puerto Rican teams.

He also comes from a great baseball family.

“I don’t like to brag about it, but if I don’t mention it my father will be mad. I am the oldest son of former Red Sox pitcher Jose Santiago, who pitched the first game of the World Series versus St Louis Cardinals’ Bob Gibson and lost 2-1 that game. The only run for the Red Sox was a homerun he hit over the Green Monster.”

In 2012, he took advantage of the opportunity to continue a career in baseball at the youth level. What started as a trainer and coaching position evolved into taking over duties as the program’s information officer.

“We were doing a lot of things manually. And almost everything was done separately. So, I tried to consolidate everything.”

Holiday Champions 2017 Coupal and his 16 Gold

A photo posted by Dirt Dawg Sports (@dirtdawgsports) on

With his background as a website designer and a “lit bit of programming,” Alex gave a lot of his time to install account packages such as QuickBooks and analyze several Excel spreadsheets.

“When I ran into LeagueApps and saw the product for the first time, I was really, really satisfied. It eliminated so much manual stuff we were doing like a lot of paperwork, a lot of forms, and spreadsheets,” he said.

“We weren’t even collecting any payments online.” All registrations were done on paper.

Within two months, all of the Dirt Dawgs’ 21 club teams were conducting 100% of their transactions online. His efforts to deliver the best service possible to his clients and the Dirt Dawgs family is just but one reason why he is held in such high regard.

Discover the  technology that helps power the Dirt Dawgs’ 21 club teams by seeing a free demo.

It’s with that grit, determination, effort, and hard work that Alex is able to deliver amazing experiences to his program’s players, parents, and members.

“Alex is the best! Not only does he spend his time training young baseball players, but he is always looking for new ways to take advantage of all the features offered. He even answered my call and got in front of a computer with me while he was on his vacation,” Launch Manager Stephanie Vera said.

He believes in having an open line of communication with all of his players and members of the Dirt Dawg family. Parents around the Boston area flock to Alex and the Dirt Dawgs so that their kids will become better players and more importantly, better people.

Alex lives by the advice he gives to all sports organizers and anyone who has a drive to succeed in their youth sports business.

“You have to comply on what you offer to your clients.”

Thanks to Alex’s grit and determination, he and the amazing staff of Dirt Dawg Sports are geared for a wildly successful 2017 of delivering excellent service and experiences to their clients.


How to Start, Scale, and Grow a Youth Sports Training Program [video]

Best Practices, Dugout, FC, Hoops, Lax, Sports Community, Value of LeagueApps

Former Johns Hopkins University, National Lacrosse League, and current Major League Lacrosse player Mike “Pop” Poppleton is the founder of All-American Faceoff (AAFO). Founded in 2015, the goal of AAFO is not only to teach athletes how to dominate at the faceoff X, but to instill skills that will help the players succeed in the classroom and in life.

AAFO has scaled up tremendously over the last year, growing from one specialized training program, to a now bi-coastal enterprise that is looking to focus on different aspects of lacrosse training.  Currently, Pop is looking for quality draw and goalie coaches/directors.

Pop was in town recently for the Paul Rabil Foundation fundraising event in NYC and decided to kick it with a few of his friends and partners at LeagueApps.

In fact, when he walked into the LeagueApps office last week, he made himself right at home! You’ll see that he enjoyed some of our funky hats laying around the office…


We were lucky enough to be able to pick Pop’s brain a little bit and get some advice for other youth sports entrepreneurs and organizers. There’s really no one better to give sound advice to sports organizers on starting a youth training program, especially for a niche or specific role program.

In part one above, Pop gives some great tips on starting a niche or specific youth training program, the importance of technology, scaling, and properly using social media to expand a training program’s reach.

In part two below, watch what drove Pop to start AAFO, some of the challenges he faced, and why he says “sixth graders in Tennessee” could beat him.

New LeagueApps Partner David Villa of NYCFC Wins MLS MVP

FC, Press, Sports Community


In just his second season in Major League Soccer, David Villa of NYCFC was named the 2016 MVP on Tuesday. Villa helped the NYCFC finish second in the Eastern Conference and qualify for the playoffs for the first time.

“I’m very proud to represent NYCFC and to receive this award,” Villa said in a statement.

“It’s a big day for me because this is one of the things I said I wanted to do when I came here two years ago.”

Before moving to MLS, Villa was a prolific scorer during five seasons with Valencia, then won the 2010 World Cup with Spain before moving that summer to Barcelona, where he found the net 48 times in all competitions in three years. He then spent one season at Atletico Madrid before leaving Spain for MLS.


Definitely one of the world’s best known athletes, Villa is well known around the LeagueApps office for his work with the David Villa Soccer Academy.

As the President of the DV7 Academy, Villa is committed to teaching children across the world to play the game of soccer using the “DV7 Method,” which allows them to develop their talent in the sport, while at the same time optimally fostering their personal values.

The DV7 Soccer Academy is a new LeagueApps partner. All registration, communication, and scheduling for all camps, clinics, and events will be powered and seamlessly integrated by LeagueApps.

“We want to train all of our students to become great human beings, loyal fans of soccer, while at the same time providing them the necessary tools to develop their talent.”




Four Easy Rules For Running a Successful Tournament or Event From a Leading Expert

Best Practices, Dugout, FC, Hoops, Lax, Sports Community

How difficult is it to run a successful tournament? What is the most important thing about choosing a venue for your next event?

Running a great tournament or event ensures that your participants will return to your sports programs. They are also more likely to refer your program to others and help drive registration.

We reached out to our partners from NXT Sports to get some insight in running a great tournament. Based out of Philadelphia, NXT Sports has been delivering some of the best tournaments on the East Coast since 2009. What started as a youth lacrosse club, NXT Sports now offers amazing experiences for youth athletes in the sports of soccer, field hockey, and basketball.

In this article, you’ll learn tips from Ryan Long, Director of Events for NXT Sports, on how to run a successful tournament for your sports programs.

Safety Is The Top Priority

Everything revolves around player safety.

“Our number one goal is to keep players and kids safe at all events,” Ryan said “Honestly, that should be the number one goal of all sports organizations.”

To do this, NXT employs trainers to be on-site at all times, not just for tournaments. During practices, tournaments, and games, there is one trainer for every two playing fields.

One initiative that Ryan and NXT is proud of is its safety initiative. Through a combination of full-time trainers, quality training of coaches and staff, as well as a partnership with the Datalys Center, NXT is at the forefront of youth sports injury research.

“Everyone on our medical staff keeps a binder at all times. We keep track of all injuries at all times, whether that be at practices, touraments, or other events. We then forward that information to the Datalys Center for proper research,” Ryan said.

To learn more secrets in how leading experts in the sports industry like Ryan are successfully growing their sports programs, download this FREE eBook today!

Location, Location, Location

“It’s one thing to have a great venue, but if it’s in the middle of nowhere, then no one will want to come back next year,” Ryan said.

One of Ryan’s main tips is to always remember that tournaments and events consist of not just the players and coaches, but of the families and friends of all participants. With that in mind, be sure to choose a venue that will offer off-the-field activities as well.

“It’s not just about the on-the-field experience. Make sure there are plenty of activities and things to do. When families come to Philadelphia, we make sure that we inform everyone of all the great things to do in this city, like visiting the Liberty Bell for instance. When we host beach events, we want to know where the go-karts and mini-golf venues are so that we can tell parents that in advance,” Ryan said.

Stay Organized

Parents want stability when they visit these events. Everything from having the correct schedule, to communication, to being able to register participants should as as smooth as possible.

“It’s so easy to be able to organize effectively with LeagueApps. Parents want organization. If you think about it, they’re on vacation when they visit our events. The fact that we’re able to easily organize everything gives them the opportunity to enjoy a no-hassle vacation,” Ryan said.

He continued. “There’s a lot of companies that will kind of start up and flounder because they’re not organized. Get organized with LeagueApps.”

Stay True To What You Do Best

One common theme shared by several of our partners, such as Lee Miller of Elite Hoops or Carlos Villicana of Team Esface, is to stay true to yourself and your mission.

Ryan shares a similar thought. “Stay true to what you do best. Learn the things you do well and build off of that.”

After you stick to what you know best, then you can make the step to a multi-sport event. When you do, Ryan gives this tip as well.

“Just stick to what you do and what you do best. Use that blue print for the other sports and make the minor adjustments that are necessary. Stay true to what you do best.”



3 Tips on How to Use Social Media to Improve Your Sports Organization

Best Practices, Dugout, FC, Hoops, Lax, Rec, Value of LeagueApps

Like a tree, social media grows with a little attention

Nearly two-thirds of all adults are using social media today, according to this Pew Research report. That number isn’t too surprising considering how hard it is to buy a pair of shorts without bumping into at least three people staring at their phones.

There’s no stopping the tidal wave of social media. In fact, a main focus of our partner day last month was how some of our basketball partners are leveraging social media to expand their reach.

So, is your sports organization using all the tools to your advantage? We have three tips that can help you better use social media to get the results you want.

Another tidal wave of posts!

Check out why social media is so important to your sports organization.

Consistency is King

One of the best and easiest ways to grow your following and increase engagement is to simply just be there. Posting at least once a day on each of your social media accounts lets your audience know that you are relevant. This could be anything from a well thought out blog to pictures from your most recent tournament.

This doesn’t mean that you have to pump out that perfect update or status every day. Engagement is a great way to maintain consistency. Users are constantly posting their content so that someone can enjoy and like it. Why not your organization?

Don’t be afraid to comment once or twice. Not only will the user really appreciate the time you took to make a comment, they will most likely comment on one of your posts and they’re 401% more likely to follow you!

Make sure to respond timely to any questions, comments, or concerns directed to your home page. This is how trust is built.

Know Who You’re Talking to And Deliver the Right Message

Posting consistently is a must. But if the right people aren’t being addressed, then what’s the point of updating your juicy status?

Each of your social media accounts should be similar, but there will be some small differences between each depending on our audience. Going through all the demographics and statistics can be exhausting. If you’re looking to save some time or a place to start, check out what the Pew Research Center has to say about the average user for each social media platform.

Among other conclusions from that demographic report, it’s clear that younger users are more likely to use Twitter and Instagram, while everyone is most likely to use Facebook. So what does that mean?

It could mean several things for your organization. It might mean that the best way to communicate with coaches and parents is through Facebook, while posting through Twitter and Instagram could be more for fun.

In any event, considering that there are over 1.2 billion users on Facebook of all ages, it’s highly, HIGHLY recommended to have a Facebook page. Not only will Facebook make registration easier with the LeagueApps Facebook plug-in, but the social media networking site is almost assuredly used by most of your coaches, players, or parents.


Learn more about how Facebook can grow your organization with LeagueApps.


Plus, Facebook makes it really easy to find the data on your audience. Simply click on the “Insights” tab on your home Facebook page above your background photo. This should narrow down what to post and how to say it.

To collect audience data, just click on “Insights”

Make Simple Hashtags for Your Events

Social media is all about forging new relationships and curating new ones. There’s no easier way to make new friends than to share stories. Enter the hashtag.

Some social media platforms, like Facebook, aren’t particularly ideal for the use of hashtags. Others, like Instagram, are perfect breeding grounds for the former pound sign. But when should they be used?

Weekend events make for perfect hashtag campaigns. Don’t over complicate it. Make it nice and simple to remember.

Make the hastags nice and simple, and never more than four in a row.

Users can then import their favorite pictures, videos, and comments all into one place. Did a parent just capture the greatest goal of all time? A simple caption with your endorsed hashtag campaign makes it easy for anyone at the event to see it.

Make sure to let your users know ahead of time. You can do that with a simple email. Or, better yet, make a post informing your users of the event, and then incorporate your hashtag. Two birds, one stone!

Let people know ahead of time for events by using hashtags

Using these tips should give you a nice head start towards achieving your social media goals. Pretty soon, you’ll start to see your organization expand its reach and your users engaging with you quite often.

Got any other tips? Let us know! Now, start posting!


Like these tips? Then check out what our friends at Four Kicks Marketing had to say in our guest blog.

New Study Reveals Finding Qualified Coaches Still a Challenge

Best Practices, Dugout, FC, Hoops, Lax, Rec, Release Notes, Sports Community, Value of LeagueApps

Credit: Karen Ann Carr via

In their 2015 seminal report “Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game,” the Aspen Institute researched and graded the state of youth sports and how well the kids and communities are being served by their stakeholders. Aside from offering grades and tracking the data, the report also identified the appropriate steps to take in building the youth sports movement.

Known as “the 8 plays,” Project Play focused on eight strategies for the eight sectors that touch the lives of children as the key developments. Some of these strategies focus on the community, such as creating more in-town leagues and promoting “free play” instead of pay-to-play leagues. Other strategies target injury prevention. One key strategy centers around finding and training qualified coaches.

The importance of the youth coach is paramount to a young athlete, both on and off the field. In their “Sport for All, Play for Life” report, the Aspen Institute found that five percent of kids who played for trained coaches quit their sport the next year. Compare that number to the overall rate of 26 percent and you can see just how important the trained coach is to the development of a young athlete.

The report found five key developments involving coaches over the past year.

Baseball has made the most progress in growing the number of trained coaches.

Despite a push by Little League Baseball in 2012 to focus more on coach education, three in four coaches remain untrained in motivational techniques, while nearly 66% say they have received no training in skills and tactics. Still, the increase in trained coaches since 2012 is a good sign.

The best trained coaches are in lacrosse.

Lacrosse has grown exponentially across the country over the last decade. Even with all that fast growth, the sport’s coaches remain some of the finest in the youth sports world. Nearly 56% of all youth lacrosse coaches are trained in sport skills and tactics, while over half are trained in general safety and injury prevention, including CPR/First Aid, physical conditioning, and concussion management. See chart below.

All data taken from Aspen Institute’s Project Play Report

More organizations are creating all-in-one training packages for coaches in the core key competencies.

Online and on-site training programs are now being offered more than ever, surely a great sign and a step in the right direction. Minnesota Youth Athletic Services and the Positive Coaching Alliance are just a couple examples of organizations paving the way to train youth coaches while conducting national background checks.

Higher income males dominate the youth coaching landscape.

There have been very few changes since 2012 in who is running a youth sports team.

All data taken from Aspen Institute’s Project Play Report

All data taken from Aspen Institute’s Project Play Report

Deploying young, current athletes as youth coaches appears to be helping.

It’s very early in this study, but it does appear that youth athletes respond better to current athletes and those who are younger than the average coach. NE Distance, located in Providence, Rhode Island, has had some stellar results.

Overall, the Aspen Institute’s State of Play gave the grade of a C- on the challenge of training youth coaches. This isn’t too surprising, as one of the main pain points emphasized by current organizers and our partners at our last two partner days, at our headquarters and at Dodger Stadium, was finding and training qualified coaches to lead teams.

You can read the State of Play full report here.

How A Sports Organizer Shaped The Greatest of All Time

Dugout, FC, Feature Highlight, Hoops, Lax, Value of LeagueApps

Credit: Tom Easterling, The Courier-Journal, USA TODAY Sports

The recent passing of Muhammad Ali has sparked much discussion and reflection on one of America’s greatest sons. In and out of the ring, Ali was a game changer. He was such an impactful influence that thousands, including world leaders, are expected in attendance for his memorial service on Friday in Louisville, Kentucky.

Everyone knows the middle and end of The Greatest of All Time saga. But how many of us actually know the beginning? Ali pundits are quick to name drop Angelo Dundee, Ali’s longtime trainer. How many of them actually know the name Joe E. Martin?

In 1954, a young Cassius Clay, irate over the theft of his red and white Schwinn bicycle, stormed over to a Louisville police officer. Reporting the crime to the officer, Clay vowed to “whup” the thief when he was found. Instead of ignoring the twelve-year-old’s seemingly empty threat, the police officer offered to train the future world champion. That police officer’s name was Joe E. Martin.

Shortly after joining the Louisville Police Department in 1937, Martin became a boxing coach at Columbia Gym located in Louisville. It was there that Martin became a boxing organizer. It was there that Martin recruited and developed some of Louisville’s athletes. It was there that Martin integrated boxing, long before other racially divided gyms. And it was there that Martin trained the future Muhammad Ali.

Even as a full-time police officer, Martin found time to organize and develop youth sports in his community. The end result was one of the shaping figures of modern history.

Sports organizers like Joe E. Martin are community unsung heroes. Every day, LeagueApps strives to make the life of the unsung hero simpler and easier. Whether it be boxing or any sport, the next great one is being developed by the unsung hero right now. Today we say goodbye to Muhammad Ali. But LeagueApps also remembers Joe Martin and salutes all the Joe Martins out there today.


LeagueApps Hosts Partner Night in the Bay Area!

Company News, Dugout, FC, Lax, Press, Rec, Value of LeagueApps

On February 16th, LeagueApps hosted a Partner Night in San Francisco – our very first Partner event on the Left Coast! It was also the first Partner Day we’ve held so far in 2015 (read about our Partner Day Series).  Over 50 partners have now attended a Partner Day in 4 different cities (NYC, DC, Chicago, and now SF)!

We decided to ditch the frigid NYC weather to reach some of our partners in the Bay Area. SF also happens to be where our development team is based, so we were able to host the event in our dev team’s office located in the downtown Mission District of San Francisco. Our Director of Engineering Bob Daly and Senior Software Engineer Jason Gilbert got to experience their first Partner event. Both Bob and Jason enjoyed interacting with some of our more engaged and tech-savvy LeagueApps users.

Most of our partners travelled from different parts of San Francisco. John Trejo and Reta Joe Rodriguez of East Valley Girls Softball drove all the way up from San Jose to join us. We were super-appreciative and excited to see our partners make time in their busy schedules to hang out with the LeagueApps team and other fellow-partners.

Members of five different sports organizations attended Partner Day. The full lineup included All West Lacrosse, Bay Area Disc Association, Street Soccer (I Play for SF), East Valley Girls Softball, and Bay Area Adult Soccer.


SF Partner Night was a bit less structured than previous Partner Days (similar to the NYC Partner Night we held last Winter). The whole event was designed to create a more relaxed environment conducive to networking and casual interactions. We were able to fit in some live in-person Coaching Sessions, which helped our partners utilize our tools and services to their fullest potential.

SF Partner Night helped to reinforce why we continue to host Partner events for our partners. We realized that both structured sessions and social networking events are helpful to our partners for similar reasons:

  • Find value in connecting with other like-minded partners
  • Direct access to the LeagueApps team
  • Strengthens the LeagueApps community


We’re planning on holding more LeagueApps Partner Days this year in various formats and different cities. Let us know if you have any thoughts or ideas on ways to plan our upcoming Partner Days, or which city we should host our event in the future!


Changing the Name Behind the Game – Soccer in the United States

Best Practices, FC, Sports Community, Value of LeagueApps

By Jim Ambrose

In 1994 the United States hosted its first FIFA World Cup. Two years later Major League Soccer in the United States kicked off its first match. Soccer has grown immensely since then and it has become a significant part of many Americans lives. Youth soccer is bigger and better than ever; and every weekend parks and fields are filled with youth soccer players. Parents are dropping their kids off at practice, driving right from work to watch high school and club games.  Adult soccer leagues continue to pop up all across the country. But soccer is still perceived as the “other” sport.  In large cities and among young people the perception is slowly changing.

So what can we do to further the progression of the sport?

Be a contender in the World Cup

Americans expect to win in every high level sport, why should the world’s biggest sporting event be any different? Having Americans become invested in their nation’s team will go a long way.  There are those in the States who dismiss soccer as being nearly, “unwatchable.”  Having a team with the skill to win the world’s most prestigious trophy carries the potential to change all of that.

Keep the youth involved in soccer

How do we create a national program capable of winning such a title?  Simple, start early and keep participants involved.  Millions of kids nationwide play the sport, from inner cities to the suburbs. Yet once they become teenagers, soccer falls by the wayside and the interest shifts to baseball, football and basketball.  There’s glory in the ‘beautiful game,’ we just have to embrace it.

Continue to improve the MLS

The MLS has been around since 1993. The League has tried time and time again to become as popular as the other professional sports, but it has struggled. The league sees spikes of interest following the World Cup, but quickly loses ground as time passes. It largely only caters to its small but loyal audience. They need to improve every aspect of the MLS to be able to reach more of a fan base. 

You can see the perception of soccer changing from just this last World Cup. The 2014 World Cup in Brazil was bigger than the NBA Final or World Series, and bigger than just about any piece of programming. Thousands joined together and watched the games on huge screens in parks and stadiums across the country. For the first time in a long time, the U.S. Soccer team was on everyone’s minds and even if you didn’t enjoy the sport you were talking about the event. Soccer will continue to grow in the U.S. regardless of the public opinion.  So people in the U.S. should stop trying to fight soccer and just embrace it. It is easy to root for a sport on top but it takes real passion to be a soccer fan in the U.S.

Why Club Teams are Using LeagueApps

Best Practices, Dugout, FC, Hoops, Lax, Value of LeagueApps

Nearly everyone today is active online, providing coaches with new channels to simplify registration and stay in touch with players. Both the challenge and the opportunity for coaches is taking advantage of this, without creating more work.

LeagueApps gives directors and coaches a simple, powerful tool to collect information and update the entire team.

The sports management tools that have been developed today are often outdated, with archaic admin systems and confusing interfaces that don’t respond to mobile. Nothing about the experience is smooth, efficient or time-saving. With players and parents on-the-go and connected online, it’s time to catch up.

Here are the three areas we identified as crucial to a club’s success when moving online:

1. Great parent experience

In today’s always on environment anything on your website needs to be accessible in two-clicks. With LeagueApps, registration is completed within minutes. Integration with Facebook means we go where the parents are. Parents can share their registration proudly with their networks, increasing the team’s reach and making it even easier to get in touch with the club.

2. World class Admin Panel

Player and team management cannot be a fragmented experience anymore. You’re not a data scientist so you shouldn’t have to create your own database from scratch. True database management means being able to manipulate your own database on one platform, without receiving multiple emails or having to deal with excel spreadsheets.

3. Integration with team branding and website

Registration shouldn’t be a stand-alone experience. Ensuring registration and team communications look and feel like the team’s website is critical to maintaining parents engagement. LeagueApps ensures a seamless connection to your site by incorporating branding into registration process and integrating to the existing team site. No obvious third-party portals, this is about your club team and protecting your brand.

The risk is too costly to have a failed sports management solution. Poor experiences leads to unsatisfied parents and players jumping ship. Online management solutions must be up to the challenge.  At LeagueApps, we continue to develop intuitive and easy to use tools with one thing in mind; the future of sports.

By Michael Scott


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