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Introducing the Play Forever Podcast by LeagueApps: Episode 1 With David Robinson

Company News, Press, Sports Community

Play Forever Podcast - Episode 1 David Robinson

LeagueApps is happy to introduce the Play Forever Podcast! Hosted by LeagueApps President Jeremy Goldberg, the Play Forever Podcast was created for sports organizers like you.

Play Forever Podcast is a series that brings you interviews with program directors, big name investors, professional athletes, and other leaders in the youth sports world. We ask these experts their initiatives for overcoming challenges, the role technology has played and will play, and other secrets in how they’ve grown their programs.

In this inaugural episode, we sit down with NBA Hall of Famer and two-time World Champion David Robinson. In it, David discusses his time as a youth athlete, his role as a parent in a sports program, and his post-NBA career in philanthropy and investing in companies like LeagueApps. Listen below and download via iTunes.

Show Notes

  • Sport Specialization vs. Generalization
  • A Starting Blueprint to a Great Youth Sports Experience
  • Creating a Championship Culture
  • Dealing with Parents
  • Successful Investing Because of Sports

Let us know what you think! This is going to be a completely interactive podcast for you and we’d like to have your ideas and comments be a part of the discussion. Be sure to subscribe via iTunes and this blog for all future episodes.

 

Download the podcast via iTunes here.

 

 

 

 

6 Highlights From The Second Annual Ballin’ For Charity Tournament

Company News, LeagueApps In Action, Sports Community

SportsDog!

LeagueApps hosted it’s second annual Ballin’ for Charity 3-on-3 basketball tournament. The event was held at a packed Basketball City in the lower east side of Manhattan.

Over 150 players, 50 volunteers, and a dozen sponsors turned out to help further the cause of FundPlay, which provides technology grants and donations to youth sports organizations that share our mission. Two of those organizations are Positive Coaching Alliance and Volo City Kids Foundation.

Read more about why LeagueApps balls for charity.

If you missed last week’s event, or if you want to rehash the fun times, we’ve got 6 highlights from this weekend’s Ballin’ for Charity.

1. LeagueApps Organized A Smash Hit Of A Tournament Thanks To Our Partners

We’re all about practicing what we preach here at LeagueApps. Ballin’ for Charity gave us a great opportunity to use our platform for registration, payments, communication, and scheduling. Using our own platform put ourselves in our partners’ shoes and experience what they experience day in and day out.

Aside from using our own technology, we were able to put some best practices in place that we have learned over the years from our partners. One of the premier tournament and event hosts on the East Coast, NXT Sports, dished out 4 tips that we were able to capitalize on. We were also sure to follow the 5 C’s as practiced by youth coach Aaron Jaworowski.

We also tweaked our sports management platform based on feedback. This year’s tournament scheduling algorithm created a seamless transition from pool play to single elimination action. Thanks to everyone from partners to participants who gave their expertise, the LeagueApps platform was better and more optimized for this year’s tournament.

Tom Crane, who played for Safe + Ready, agreed that this year’s event went smooth.
“Even though we only won one game, there was a ton of fun stuff to do like knockout. Plus, the after party was fantastic.”

Check out some of the photos from Ballin’ for Charity.

2. A Dozen Super Sponsors Helped Host This Tournament

There was plenty to do before, during, and after pool play, and a big reason everyone was able to stay busy was because of the AMAZING sponsors’ help.

The tournament’s Title Sponsor, ProHealth Urgent Care, made it a point to live up to their name. A ton of care was displayed by them in ensuring that Ballin’ for Charity was the absolute best it could be.

Pro Health

We also want to thank our MVP Sponsor SalesLoft for all their help. Aside from their generous contributions, they were also quite busy on social media.

But there were more. Anheuser-Busch helped make sure the on-site after party was fully stocked. We certainly learned a few tricks from NYC Social into what makes hosting a great sporting event. WTR MLN WTR and Recoup Beverage provided cool, thirst-quenching drink options to ensure participants were hydrated and recovered between games. Hooch, the app that gives you free drinks and cocktails every month, gave away a free membership for a year to our three-point contest winner.

Food was donated by Ox Verte, Banza, and Slice. Ox Verte’s healthy menu is the perfect option for any company’s catered lunch and Banza’s delicious chickpea pasta is the only gluten-free mac and cheese substitute you’ll ever need. And who doesn’t love a delicious pizza from Slice?!

Outdoor Voices, which creates recreational apparel, gave away hundreds of totes so we could keep organized. Another recreational apparel sponsor, Mission Athlete, gave away towels to make sure all players were dry between games.

To make sure everyone got home safe and sound, Lyft provided discount codes and free rides to and from Basketball City. And the Jr. NBA and Basketball City were integral in helping with the logistics and basketball operations for the event. Thank you to each and every one of our sponsors that helped make Ballin’ for Charity so amazing!

3. Overtime Wins The Competitive Division For Bingo’s All Stars

Overtime Wins

Congrats to Overtime for winning the competitive division championship! Thanks to their win, the charity of their choice Bingo’s All Stars will receive a donation of $1,500.

The purpose of the Bingo’s Allstars Organization is supporting, developing, and educating youth through the game of basketball. Members of Bingo’s All Stars Organization have united together from throughout the tristate area to accomplish a common goal and provide positive adult leadership to our youth.

You can read the entire list of participants and charities here.

4. Volo City Kids Foundation Benefits From NYC Social’s Recreational Win

In the recreational division, NYC Social took home the championship. Their win over Lyft ensured that the charity of their choice Volo City Kids will receive a donation of $1,000.

Volo City Kids provides our community with an opportunity to learn, practice and play a variety of sports in a fun but structured environment at no cost to the family. Volo City Kids removes barriers to athletic participation such as gender, skill, and financial resources. They emphasize team play through league play and community building by including volunteers from the surrounding communities and by providing post-game social events for players, parents, and volunteers.

Congratulations to both Bingo’s All Stars and Volo City Kids for the tremendous work they do in the community for making youth sports happen!

NYC Social FTW

5. Your Collective Efforts Raised A Boatload Of Funds

We’re so happy to announce that with each and every one of your efforts, we were able to raise a ton of funding for this year’s event! The proceeds from the event will be shared with PCA and Volo City Kids, ensuring those organizations will be able to continue to deliver great sports experiences to youth athletes in their communities.

By exceeding our goal nearly three-fold, we’re super thankful for everyone that made a part of this event so special, both in fun and in actual numbers. This also ensures that LeagueApps and FundPlay can continue to work on their mission towards making sports happen. But speaking of fun….

6. The SPORTSDOG Was In The House!

Ballin’ For Charity was a phenomenal opportunity for our team to produce a great event Many different people on the LeagueApps team go above and beyond their normal day-to-day responsibilities to make it happen. To do this, we rely on our values: Sportsmanship, Passion, Openness, Results, Team, Student of The Game, Difference Maker, and Grit, or SportsDog.

We made sure we displayed these values to every participant, player, volunteer, sponsor, and member that was a part of Ballin’ for Charity. We also wanted to have some fun doing so. So, at our second annual Ballin’ for Charity, we were happy to unleash the SportsDog, the newest LeagueApps mascot that personifies what it means to be a part of LeagueApps.

One Shining Moment #ThisIsMarch #BallinForCharity #TeamMSBA

A post shared by Bailey (@baileyweigel) on

Read Social Media Talks Ballin’ For Charity 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament.

Social Media Talks Ballin’ for Charity Tournament

Company News, LeagueApps In Action, LeagueApps Team, Press, Sports Community

LeagueApps Volunteers at Ballin for Charity

Here are some of the reactions on social media during and after the second annual Ballin’ for Charity 3-on-3 basketball tournament.

Saturday was also the birthday of our NEW SportsDog mascot.

Introducing SportsDog! #BallinForCharity #playforever

A post shared by Fundplay (@fund_play) on

Such a blast today!! #ballinforcharity #sportsdog #leagueapps #playforever

A post shared by Stephanie Vera (@smvera) on

This year’s event could not have been done without the help of both ProHealth Urgent Care and Sales Loft. They have been such amazing partners! A real pleasure to work with them.

The basketball competition was pretty fierce throughout the day.

GLG squad #ballinforcharity @LeagueApps

A post shared by Arden McWilliams (@amcw216) on

Proud to represent #bluesteel at #ballinforcharity #charity #team #basketballnyc #basketballcity

A post shared by Blue Steel Events (@bluesteel.nyc) on

Congrats to the rec division champs- our partners from @nycsocialsports! #BallinForCharity #playforever

A post shared by Fundplay (@fund_play) on

The level of play wasn’t the only thing that was brought by all the Ballers. Our friends at Ox Verte, Banza, Recoup Beverage, Slice, and Anheuser-Busch made some delicious food and drink donations to the cause.

Winning best-out-of-three-championships since March, 2017. #ballinforcharity @baileyweigel @melraerose

A post shared by kdegrazia90 (@kdegrazia90) on

Thank you to everyone who helped make this year’s Ballin’ for Charity event so special. We’re already looking forward to next year’s 3rd annual 3-on-3 tournament!

Score keepers from Columbia #ballinforcharity #basketballcity #volunteers

A post shared by 晒星星 (@dova.wang) on

 

How to Inspire Your Coaches and Parents to Drive Renewed Participation

Best Practices, Company News, Sports Community, Value of LeagueApps

4 Key Benefits Of A PCA Training Workshop

According to a poll from the National Alliance for Youth Sports, around 70 percent of kids in the United States stop playing organized sports by the age of 13 because “it’s just not fun anymore.”

The Positive Coaching Alliance works with schools and youth leagues to create better experiences and more engagement for kids in sport. (PCA) develops BETTER ATHLETES, BETTER PEOPLE through resources for youth and high school sports coaches, parents, administrators, and student-athletes. LeagueApps believes so strongly in the PCA mission that we’re supporting them in our second annual Ballin’ for Charity tournament.

Be a part of making sports happen by signing up for the second annual Ballin’ for Charity 3-on-3 basketball tournament.

The PCA resources include over 1,000 free audio-video and printable tips and tools at the PCA resources library. PCA trainers and coaches also host over 3,500 live workshops around the country each year.

The LeagueApps team took three separate PCA training workshops recently:

  •  COACHING FOR WINNING AND LIFE LESSONS: Establishes PCA’s premise that youth and high school sports entail the goal of winning and the more important goal of teaching life lessons through sports. Each attendee learns how to Coach for Mastery of Sport (Not Just the Scoreboard); Fill Emotional Tanks; and Honor the Game.

 

  • CULTURE, PRACTICES, AND GAMES: Further illustrates how coaches use PCA principles to build a team culture that players and their parents buy into, thus leading to life lessons and improved athletic performance in practices and games.

 

  • DEVELOPING COMPETITORS: Views the Double-Goal Coach model through the lens of high school sports, including such topics as social pressure, hazing, and the role of high school coaches and athletes as standard-bearers in their communities.

We consider ourselves sports organizers at LeagueApps, like our partners. This training workshop allowed us to collect further direct feedback and put ourselves in the shoes of our partners. It’s part of what we call “dogfooding,” or practicing what we preach.  

“It was good to take a step back from our day-to-day and think about the actual experience that sport has on kids,” Nick Sutedjo said.  “There are so many issues that organizers have to tackle and teaching kids, parents, and coaches the way to compete is key to positive youth sports experiences.”

Here are four key benefits of a PCA training workshop that can help organizers deliver positive youth experience and lower that 70% drop out rate.

PCA Training Workshop

The 20 Year Shift of Youth Sports

The biggest change to affect youth sports in the past twenty years is a shift toward consumerism. Factors like sport specialization, an increase in scholarship numbers, and growth in viewership at the collegiate level have really tipped the balance toward an all-consuming type of experience.

With this consumerism comes high costs for parents, yielding high expectations to have a return on those investments. Now there’s a larger demand in playing time and scholarship offers, to name a few.

This consumerism is part of the reason of why there can be a disconnect between an athlete’s wishes and his or her parents’ goals.

What Youth Athletes Want Most From Sports

In a 2014 GW Study, 9 out of 10 kids said having fun is the main reason they participate in sports. When asked to consider what is fun, they listed 81 characteristics of fun, and winning (#48) barely finished inside the top fifty.

“Kids want a great experience with their friends, the ability to get better and advance, and an environment that matches their taste through technology,” Cam Goldberg said.

Memories are what sports are most about, not win-loss records. By delivering a rewarding experience to your athletes, you can deliver a memorable sports experience, making it easier for a player to want to come back next season or event. Start with creating a rewarding environment.

Credit: Aspen Institute Project Play

Credit: Aspen Institute Project Play

Creating Rewarding Environments for All Levels of Athletes

Sport serves as a form of informal education, so it is critical to understand that coaches who will work with kids are trained properly. This will ensure that your program’s mission is carried out.

A meaningful and rewarding experience means that an athlete feels connected to teammates and coaches, believes that he or she can improve, and proudly acts with integrity when doing the right thing.

Melanie Rose thinks this learning process can start by teaching kids at an early age about the importance of mental participation in sports.

“Many youth sports coaches today are failing to teach kids the mental part of participating in sports. Sports are 90% mental; however, coaches and parents alike are so quick to critique an athlete’s mental toughness or mindset, when that is something that was never taught, developed, or coached,’ she said.

Start With The FAMILY Approach

PCA suggests the FAMILY approach in helping parents create memorable experiences for their kids.

“A lot of this starts with positive coaching feedback from parents. Promote or incentivize activities where parents don’t yell during the game and instead write down on a notecard positive things they see happening,” Greg Cuccinello said.  

Ammad Sheikh agreed. “It’s all about positive reinforcement for the kid. You want to make sure everyone in the organization is aligned to ‘Forget About Me I Love You.’”

Be a part of the LeagueApps mission to make sports happen. Register for the second annual Ballin’ for Charity 3-on-3 basketball tournament today and continue to deliver rewarding experiences.

Why We Ball: The LeagueApps Team Prepares For Our Ballin’ For Charity Basketball Tournament

Company News, Press, Sports Community

Posted by LeagueApps CEO and Co-Founder Brian Litvack. You can find him balling this Saturday in the Knockout challenge and 3-point contest!

 

 

It’s March Madness! For LeagueApps, that means that early next Saturday morning, you’ll find most of the LeagueApps team at Basketball City in NYC. We’ll be organizing the 2nd Annual Ballin For Charity 3-on-3 basketball tournament.

We’re going to have a packed house. If you’ve been to Basketball City, an impressive and “state of the art” basketball facility, you’ll know that is no small feat. There will be 36+ teams, and over 150 players, participating and representing NYC companies, startups, innovators, and entrepreneurs. We’ll have 50 volunteers, many of them are friends and colleagues, working together to run the event. Many of our corporate partners and sponsors will contribute to the event including ProHealth Urgent Care, Salesloft, Anheuser-Busch, NYC Social, WTR MLN H2O, Recoup, Ox Verte, Banza and Slice. We’ll be promoting Positive Coaching Alliance, and Volo City Kids Foundation. Both are non-profit organizations that LeagueApps works with closely and that will benefit from the proceeds of the tournaments.

We’d also like to share with you why the LeagueApps team is so passionate and proud about organizing Ballin’ For Charity.

Progress Our Mission: Support FundPlay

LeagueApps mission is to make sports happen. When we do, it has the power to change the world, inspire, and unite people. We often look to Nelson Mandela’s message on sports for our own inspiration.

LeagueApps has created our FundPlay initiative to support sports organizations that share our mission to enable sports. All of the proceeds from Ballin’ For Charity will go towards FundPlay. This year we’re supporting Positive Coaching Alliance and Volo City Kids Foundation. LeagueApps grants to sports organizations throughout the year will also be funded by proceeds from Ballin’ For Charity. In addition, each team in the tournament picks a non-profit organization. A donation is made to the winning teams organization. Last year’s winners were Krossover and Steady Buckets.

Dogfooding

Eating your own dogfood, or dogfooding, is a popular term in the software world. The meaning is that it’s important to directly use the software that you develop. Said another way, we need to practice what we preach.

organziing

At our core, we consider ourselves sports organizers. Most of the time, our form of organization is through software development and partnership service. It’s exciting for us to be able to roll up our sleeves, dust off our whistles, and get out on the field.

By directly running our own tournament we get to use the LeagueApps platform and functionality. The Ballin’ For Charity website is built on LeagueApps. Registration, payments, email, text messaging, schedules, and standings will be powered through LeagueApps. We’ll also test out some new innovation ideas around video and our tournament scheduling algorithm.

We spend plenty of time receiving feedback from our partners on all of our functionality. This tournament allows us to collect primary feedback and puts us in the shoes of our partners. It exposes us to a new perspective and helps us improve the LeagueApps platform and provide even more value for our partners.

Contribute To Our Community

We’re always impressed by how our partners use sports to serve and unite their communities. We try to do the same with Ballin’ For Charity. We’re proud to be part of the New York City startup, tech and digital sports communities. Throughout the year we’re involved in different meetups, events and rec sports leagues. Ballin’ For Charity is our opportunity to lead a community event that brings together hundreds of professionals in our communities. It allows us to activate and expand our own networks. Better yet, we do it through a sports event. Like any tournament, we’ll have competition. But the real winners will be those who leave with a great experience and new connections, ideas, and relationships.

Represent SportsDog Values

Ballin’ For Charity is an opportunity for our team to produce a great event. Many different people on the LeagueApps teams go above and beyond their normal day-to-day responsibilities to make it happen. To do this, we rely on our values: Sportsmanship, Passion, Openness, Results, Team, Student of The Game, Difference Maker, and Grit.

We also want to make sure we display these values to everyone involved in Ballin’ For Charity. This includes participants, guests, partners, vendors, and volunteers. We want everyone that interacts with Ballin For Charity to have a great experience.

Fun!

We’re a team that is passionate about sports. At any time, we’ll have a few company sports teams in local NYC and DC recreational leagues. It’s always a privilege to lace up our sneakers, get on the court, and break a sweat. Whenever we get a chance to do that, we try to take advantage of it. It’s even more fun when we get to do that with our friends.

If you haven’t already received a direct invite to Ballin’ For Charity, then here it is. Please come out and join the LeagueApps team and our family, friends, and partners.

When: Saturday, March 25th
Where: Basketball City
Register Your Team Now By Clicking Here!: Space is limited!

bball-city

International Women’s Day: LeagueApps Celebrates Women Shaping The Youth Sports World

LeagueApps Team, Sports Community, Value of LeagueApps

LeagueApps Celebrating International Women's Day

On International Women’s Day, we wanted to take some time out to recognize not only the female employees that work here at LeagueApps but also our amazing female partners and the women leading youth sports organizations.

 

We want to recognize these seven amazing women and say how much we value them and all women for what they do.

 

Nichol Whiteman

Executive Director, LA Dodgers Foundation

Nichol is a visionary who knows how to get things done. It’s been amazing to see her embrace the role of technology in managing their RBI program, and provide the leadership to facilitate adoption.

Even more important, this project is indicative of her innovative approach to impacting the LA community.

img8

Candice Utush

USA Stars Academy

Candice is always on top of whatever I throw her way. She was completely dedicated to launching her huge soccer organization while also juggling being a mother.

She is single-handedly impacting the ways in which the USA Stars Academy is able to not only run, but improve their business on a day-by-day basis.

Jen Schroeder

Co-Founder/Catching Instructor, Packaged Deal

What Jen is doing on the field as an instructor is game-changing for female athletes.

But what she is doing as a softball entrepreneur is revolutionary.

img1
img7

Michelle Petrovich

Vice President, Acers FastPitch

Michelle is a critical part of the Acers organization, dedicating hours of hard work as Vice President.

As a mother and wife, Michelle should be celebrated as a cornerstone for why this organization succeeds.

Julie Boglione

President/Director, Breaking Barriers Lacrosse

I think about Julie and Breaking Barriers often as an example of the power of sports and the passion of our partners.

It makes our mission even more meaningful and makes me proud to be part of the LeagueApps team.

img2
img5

Chris Lawler

President, Motor City Madness

Chris is a hardworking mother and wife, who dedicates so much energy and time to making the Madness organization great.

Her grit and efforts should be celebrated, for she is inspiring the future generation of young female leaders.

Lisa Mitchelides

Executive Director/Recruiting Director, Midwestern Force Lacrosse

Lisa is a big believer in easy access to sports.

She makes sure everyone who wants to play lacrosse in her area has access to it.

img4
img3

Lori Brown

Founder/Director, T3 Lacrosse

Besides proving the importance of the sport of lacrosse, the entire business is run by females who have helped Lori make a difference in the game as it grows.

T3 is a fantastic female run company and are great partners to work with!

 

Additionally, we had some more personal, inspirational leaders.

Stephanie Vera said this about her mother:

My mama inspires me each and every day with her strength to not only lead ourfamily, but to never give up at fighting for a career that makes her happy and fulfilled and independent. She was born and raised in Ecuador where she became an accountant as she’s always had a love for numbers. She then immigrated to the United States and quickly found work as a nanny or cleaning lady for families who needed additional help. She quickly learned English and shortly after got certified as an accountant again at H&R Block. Ten years later she get carpal tunnel syndrome and can no longer crunch those numbers. She was devastated. But she went back to school and got certified as an Ultrasound Tech. Through job market set backs she didn’t find a job and figured she would give it a go at selling real estate and got licensed. She is still a licensed realtor, but found that her passion is helping people in need — especially the elderly. She once again went back at it and is now a licensed vocational nurse. I am so proud of my mom for never giving up. She is 56 years old and finally found the career of her dreams. She goes to work happy every day and is getting paid the most she ever has in her career! In my eyes, my mama embodies a strong, hard working woman and I wish her a Happy International Women’s Day!

Jared Cooper added:

International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to acknowledge the invaluable role women play in society, from the board room to the playing fields. My mother was the organizer of the household, and managing a full schedule of three social boys who played sports during every season of the year was a full-time job. Her role in making sure we always made it to practice and games, whether in local community leagues or on travel teams playing tournaments all around New York, can not be overstated. I stand in support of her on this day to acknowledge and celebrate women’s achievements.

I also stand with my wife, who recently gave me the great gift of bringing our two twin boys into this world. Her emotional and physical strength has and continues to be inspiring. Part of my role in being a father is to raise my boys to recognize and respect women as equals in our society, and ensure they advocate for that equality. It is incumbent on all of us to ensure this is a safe and supportive world for women now and for generations to come.

Watch MLL All-Star Ned Crotty Help Lead A Club Team’s Practice

Lax, LeagueApps In Action, Sports Community

The Success of Dave Mitchell and the Next Level Spartans

In January, one lucky winner received a free one-day clinic hosted by MLL Star and LeagueApps Director of Lacrosse Ned Crotty. Next Level Spartans, located in Bethesda, Maryland won the raffle shortly after LaxCon.

Ned and the LeagueApps Lax team were honored to work with Next Level and deliver a memorable experience to youth lacrosse players in the Washington, D.C. area.

Below are Ned’s observations from his time hosting the one-day clinic with the Next Level Spartans.

For success at the club level, you need two very important things- a coach who has the vision and ability to develop young players and players who have the desire and ability to improve each and every day. During our visit with the Next Level Spartans, we were able to get an up-close look at both and see first hand why this program has been so successful and why the future is so bright.

The first part of our day was spent meeting with Dave Mitchell and learning more about what his focus has been since taking over the program back in July 2016. Dave’s first love is the game of lacrosse and growing it the right way. In a day where not everyone can say that, he immediately separates himself, which can be seen in the number of players gravitating to his program and coaching style.

23s & 24s getting dodging & shooting tips from one of best attackmen in the game! @crottykid22

A post shared by Next Level Spartans (@nextlevellax) on

He focuses on the fundamentals of the game and teaching his players how to play the right way with freedom to make decisions within a structured offense. This, combined with Dave’s vision for the future are what make the Spartans one of the top programs in DMV (the DC, Maryland, Virginia metro area).

I was then able to get on the field and actually work with his players. First his 5th and 6th-grade players for an hour and then his 7th and 8th-grade players for an hour. I was careful not to jam too much into each session, as I wanted to make sure the players not only learned a lot but also had enough time to get reps for each skill I was teaching.

Click here to see more photos of Ned with the players at Next Level.

In both sessions, I was not only impressed with how well the players listened, but then how quickly they were able to apply what I was teaching. Both sessions were a huge success and you could tell the players walked away with a better understanding that it’s the little things that really make a big difference in our game.

It was a great experience being able to work with the Next Level Spartans and see first hand that they clearly have, arguably, the two most important things for success at the club level.

LeagueApps is the leading lacrosse technology platform in the country. See a free demo with Ned by clicking here.

Salt Lick, Sport, and Social: LeagueApps Steams Back From 7th Annual SSIA Conference

Company News, LeagueApps In Action, Product News, Rec, Sports Community, Value of LeagueApps

SSIA 2017
The LeagueApps team was proud to be a part of the Social Sport and Industry Association (SSIA) Conference once again. This year’s event was held from February 22nd-24th in Austin, Texas. This was the seventh conference in SSIA’s history.

The event featured 25 of LeagueApps’ adult and social league partners. Aside from enjoying the 70-degree weather and chomping down on some delicious barbecue, the three-day conference gave us a great chance to collaborate with our partners on future initiatives. This included products, features, and some collective ideas regarding the industry.

The main course was a group session revolving around five of our features that have been released over the last year that can provide the most value to our adult and social league partners.

  • Mobile Admin: Run your entire organization, including all of your programs, on your mobile device.
  • RSVP: Allow easier communication between teammates to help your leagues avoid the dreaded no-shows.
  • Stored Credit Cards: Deliver an easy check-out experience for your customers while collecting 100% of fees on-time.
  • Team Rollover: Empower your leagues’ captains to copy and paste, or “rollover,” previous rosters, simplifying the lives of your participants and staff.
  • Team Talk: The easiest form of communication between staff, players, or anyone, organized by topic.

You can view the LeagueApps presentation below.

LeagueApps Presentation at SSIA Conference 2017

Of course, the main benefit of attending the SSIA Conference each year is the quality feedback and best practices received from our partners. This year was no different.

One thing that we learned was that many of our partners use multiple web tools, software platforms, websites, and social media channels to promote and manage their organization(s). Through our open API, partners and developers have been figuring out how to “talk” to other 3rd-party tools and integrate with them. This need continues to grow as we work with more forward-thinking organizations who need cutting-edge technology to run their operations. We’re inspired by some of the integrations our partners have already been able to develop through our API, and we’re excited to see this trend continue. Learn more about our API plans, or visit our API developer site to access our API documentation.

It’s also clear that bigger data and deeper marketing insights are becoming a huge part of growing. Partners have a thirst for better data. are getting smarter about marketing automation and eager to better track their conversion funnel. They are excited for LeagueApps to build smarter reporting and/or connect them to business intelligence tools.

Finally, it’s cool to see some of our partners actively interested in expanding into the youth market. Several partners have already established youth initiatives, while others plan to in the near future. This is another place where we can drive value and see growth from our partners in the coming years. What’s encouraging is that our partners recognize there is a big opportunity to create positive sports experiences to the non-elite athletes.

Last but not least, we had the luxury of feasting to some world-renowned barbecue. On Wednesday night, we hosted dinner at Salt Lick Barbecue , with the help of our friends and partners from Austin Sport and Social. We’re looking forward to SSIA 2018!


 

 

What Mike Klinzing of Head Start Can Teach You About Your Basketball Program

Best Practices, Hoops, Sports Community, Value of LeagueApps

Head Start Basketball

Grow Your Program By Focusing On Your Community

Head Start Basketball is a youth basketball organization that has been teaching the fundamentals of the game through camps, individual skill training, and online training videos in the greater Cleveland area since 1993. It was founded by Mike Klinzing.

They have approximately 1,000 plus players, boys and girls, that participate in their camps and training each year. These programs feature fundamental learning stations where players are taught the skills of the game, contests to test the skills learned, and the chance to play small sided games to maximize touches and player development.

LeagueApps is the official technology partner of Head Start Basketball.

Head Start was recently named the Jr. NBA Program of the Month for November for the work being done both on and off the court. In addition to being highlighted on the Jr. NBA website, Head Start was rewarded with a $1,000 gift card from Under Armour.

We had a chance to speak with Mike recently about the Jr. NBA as well as some other initiatives that Head Start has spearheaded. He had some great insight and tips into how other basketball directors can grow their basketball programs.

On Founding Head Start Basketball

A year after graduating from Kent State, Mike had the idea of running camps specifically for elementary school kids near his hometown of Strongsville, Ohio. There were seven elementary schools at the time.

“It started as a neighborhood thing. I’d run a camp at each elementary school for a total of three hours a day. Then it grew to high school as well after a year or two,” he said.

Mike claims there was not much ambition in starting a youth basketball business other than giving back. In fact, he started his camps at a time when there was a lot of competition in the market. That was one of the main challenges he faced in the early years.

“I got a head start in learning the game correctly, so I felt it was my duty to give back to the community where I grew up. From a business standpoint, I was sort of okay being stuck in the status quo,” he said.

Mike sees a big shift in the marketplace today. As youth basketball gets more and more competitive in travel ball and AAU leagues, there’s a definite opening for camp and program directors like Mike to give every kid a quality opportunity to play the game.

Not only is that growing his sports business, but it’s staying true to his mission of making great experiences for kids on the basketball court.

On Delivering Great Experiences to Members

As Mike’s camps grew and more and more kids registered with Head Start, he noticed larger amount of parents were interested in what the kids could be doing when not at organized practices. That’s when the idea of a video training plan came up.

“For some time, I had a blog to give parents valuable content so that more traffic would be sent to our website,” he said. “The idea of creating a series of videos to help parents, and even coaches, sort of spurned from the blog.”

What followed was the Daily Dozen, a series of 60 drills for kids to use over a 90-day span. The reward was that parents and players trusted Mike even when they weren’t currently registered one of his camps. When registration started back up again, the camps filled up in no time.

Faith, a parent located in Strongsville, recommends Mike’s combined style of online and in-person training so beneficial and unique, she now has multi kids in his programs.

“My children really enjoy the Head Start Basketball Camps and look forward to attending each summer.  Their basketball skills and sportsmanship have greatly improved with the help of Mike and his staff,” she said.

The Jr. NBA recently released a curriculum that is absolutely free to any coach or organizer to help them with practice plans, drills, and other basketball organized activity. A unique way to use the curriculum would be to watch the videos and grab some inspiration on how to make your own training videos to improve the user experience for your program.

“There’s no excuse not to use the Jr. NBA Curriculum,” Mike said.

 

On Being Named the Jr. NBA Program of the Month

Shortly after the Jr. NBA launched their Program of the Month initiative, Mike filled out a form that was emailed to him through the Jr. NBA newsletter. He figured it was worth a shot to win so he didn’t mind taking the hour to answer all the questions.

The Jr. NBA followed up with a questionnaire that took him about 20 minutes to fill out. By December, Mike was notified that Head Start was named the winner for the month of November.

“For less than 90 minutes of work, I got a ton of great, free press and a $1,000 gift card. I highly recommend the process to any organization.”

His relationship with the Jr. NBA has also opened up other opportunities with another leading youth basketball, the Positive Coaching Alliance. Mike and Head Start Basketball will play an integral part in helping shape PCA Cleveland, as official Jr. NBA Programs of the Month get to experience free PCA workshops to help train youth coaches.

As a USA Basketball Youth Development Certified Coach, Mike sees the benefit and similarities of all three organizations. “It’s great to be associated with all three of these organizations. They all teach correctly and they all teach sportsmanship,” he said.”

Head Start Basketball plans to use the Under Armour gift card to provide athletic apparel and equipment to kids in need through one of their giving initiatives and to purchase new basketballs to replace some of the older balls currently in use.

On Being True To A Mission That’s About More Than Basketball

Cleveland’s youth basketball players aren’t the only ones that benefit from Head Start Basketball. The surrounding community benefits in numerous ways as well with his “Train for Life” program that provides opportunities for athletes to get involved with service projects.

Every Christmas, they participate in a holiday giving event in which every year they sponsor families at a local Pro Sports Performance. This past Christmas was the fourth year of the event. Twenty-one families were sponsored with over $25,000 worth of gifts. Over 250 athletes and individuals participated.

“It was so great. Basketball and softball players, wrestlers, elementary, middle, high school students were all in attendance.”

Head Start also has a partnership with Ohio Guidestone, which is an organization that serves children and families on different community-based services, including mental health services, foster care, and residential care. With Head Start’s help, the charity event was able to host a baby shower for nine expectant mothers.

“It’s what I’m most proud of. When people get done doing something with us, they walk away feeling they get their money’s worth.”

On Working With LeagueApps

Mike partnered with LeagueApps to get deeper reporting and immediate access to help with data collection.

“I was doing payments through PayPal but the site couldn’t collect data. I had to hand type data into an Excel sheet. This has been the biggest and best thing. Now I get the information immediately.”

The transition to a new sports management platform has been seamless for Mike, his current customers, and his users.

“That’s been the case completely. I’ve not had one issue with people registering, money not showing up, refunds. It’s all been seamless,” he said.

Before, Mike was okay in the status quo. But now, his youth basketball business is seeking expansion.

“At this point, we’re really looking to expand and grow. We’re in a great spot now.”

Video Basics For Your Program: The 5 Day Email Course

The Three Part Recruiting Formula Your Travel Baseball Team Needs To Follow

Best Practices, Dugout, FastPitch, Sports Community, Value of LeagueApps
Credit: Southern Athletics

Credit: Southern Athletics

John Hinson of Southern Athletics 3 Tips On Getting Commitment Offers

Southern Athletics Baseball, located in Hendersonville, North Carolina, is a three-fold baseball organization that includes camps, clinics, and club teams. Their mission is to use their experience and knowledge to accelerate the development and exposure of players in order to garner success on the largest platforms in the country. That stands solid with their three pillars: development, exposure, and recruiting.

And they are absolutely crushing the recruiting pillar.

As of March, every single player of their class of 2017 has committed to play at the college level. Twenty five percent of those players signed commitments to schools that are in the ACC or SEC. Eight players of the 2018 class have also committed, of which nearly 40% will be playing in those mega conferences. Their focus is to have them all signed by the end of the year.

We reached out to John Hinson, President of Southern Athletics and partner of LeagueApps. Aside from leading Southern Athletics (SA) Baseball club and its tournaments, he is also launching Palmetto Sports Academy in Greenville, South Carolina.

John grew up in Asheville, played baseball at ACC powerhouse Clemson University, and for a couple years played in the Houston Astros farm system. We asked him what the secret sauce is to recruiting.

“The secret sauce, if there was any, is for the travel guys who are engaged in this recruiting process to be genuine,” he said. Here is three part formula John says can make you genuine on the recruiting trail.

Do It For The Right Reasons

College coaches are easily able to figure out a guy’s intentions and what their motivations might be. John has made it a point to surround himself with like-minded people on his staff that share the Southern Athletics mission who truly want their players to reach the next level, on and off the field.

“The difference between the guys that do this really well and the guys that sort of peak out and then they’re gone in two years, are that the first batch of guys are doing it for all the right reasons.”

Meaning club directors that are in it for their egos and nothing else won’t forge relationships with college coaches longer than two years. Make your travel club about something more than just baseball by adopting a mission.

Be a Great Communicator

We preach all the time about the importance of communication for baseball and softball programs. It’s true that instant and constant communication from a club or tournament director is important for day-to-day operations, but the same can be send to help reach your recruiting goals as well.

One unique way John is able to communicate SA’s recruiting goals is through a blog. Craig Collins, Vice President of SA, maintains a blog that provides parents, players, and any member with tips and best practices that help relieve some of the stress around the recruiting process.

“The important thing is to communicate a lot. Stay positive with the parents, even if that means it might be difficult for you to say,” he said.

But communication doesn’t have to be a one way street of you speaking with your players and their parents. Communicate with other people in your industry, especially those you have forged relationships with.

Discover the power of instant communication tools by speaking with a baseball expert today.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Fulfillment

College coaches will work with any club director that is genuine. But to really forge a relationship with a college, according to John, you have to truly get fulfillment out of getting seeing your guys commit.

“What I mean is they don’t mind calling a division two or three school and saying, ‘listen, I’m here to help your program. Are you looking for a pitcher two classes from now?’”

Even if you don’t have any players that can help them out, John recommends you scout your next tournament, and if you see a potential fit, give that college coach a shout. In the long run, that relationship will be stronger and soon you will have a new college pipeline where there was none before.

For more recruiting advice, read former Padres player Tyler Wood’s take on what he wished he’d known when getting recruited for college.

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