There are over 2,300 sports organizations in the state of New Jersey. With all those options, you have to be able to show a parent or athlete what separates your programs from others. One way to do that is to find a way you can influence your community or your industry.
To help get your brainstorming juices flowing, we’ve identified five of our partners in the state of New Jersey that have truly influenced the industry, both on a regional and national scale. Their brands are some of the most recognizable in the mid-Atlantic region.
And their leaders are sharing some of their secrets with you.
Here are five of New Jersey’s most influential sports brands and how they shaped the industry.
Mitch Storch, Owner/Director
Hoop Heaven is the premier basketball location in New Jersey and now owns three state-of-the-art basketball facilities. The original complex is located in Whippany and is approximately 21,000 square feet. The second, a 15,000 square foot facility, is located in Bridgewater and they recently opened a third, 10,000 square foot facility in Waldwick.
In the late 90s and early 2000s, Hoop Heaven primarily hosted adult leagues. Mitch recognized the kids in his community were underserved when it came to finding open court space. As a result, he expanded into the youth industry. At the time and even until today, there can be a focus of basketball programs to attract “the best” players. Instead, he opened his doors to everyone, regardless of athletic ability.
He created a unique customizable league scheduling system. “We are the only league of its kind that forms divisions of teams AFTER they play a game or two to confirm which level they are on relative to the other teams,” Mitch said. “No more games where one team is clearly too strong or weak for a division.”
This method has allowed the Hoop Heaven brand to better serve its customer base with more evenly matched opponents. The results have been overwhelming.
“This customized scheduling has been very effective and allowed some of our leagues to grow to near 450 teams in one season,” he added.
Lori Brown, Director
It’s hard to imagine, but girls lacrosse did not have much of a presence in the state just a dozen years ago. Seeing this void, 2-time All American and former Team USA member, Lori Brown was inspired. Utilizing her business marketing background, Lori launched T3 Lacrosse.
What started as one summer lacrosse camp held in the Somerset Hills in 2002 blossomed into a New Jersey-based player development and educational organization for boys and girls. Today, T3 reaches as far as the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania. Lori remains as the overall director, but she now also spends time growing the T3 Central, T3 Shore, T3 Ocean, and new T3 Cobra programs.
Lori considers the staff of T3 to be its biggest asset. She consistently sets up her staff for success by providing numerous educational and individual growth opportunities.
“We promote continued education to each of our staff members, offering numerous opportunities to learn from other colleagues in both formal and informal training environments,” she previously said.
“Many of our staff are US Lacrosse Level 1, 2, and 3 certified and have shared their gift of teaching through presentations at coaches’ clinics for recreations programs, JGLA clinics, and US Lacrosse sponsored events. We fully support the initiative of the Positive Coaching Alliance and we expect our coaches to embrace the principles of positive coaching every day.”
Greg Gurenlian, Co-Founder/Coach
Team USA player Greg “Beast” Gurenlian doesn’t shy away from what he holds near and dear to his heart: being a faceoff specialist.
“Faceoffs are a very under-coached portion of lacrosse,” he said. “The belief that faceoff men are just ‘good cheaters’ is the predominant way of thinking.”
It was this thinking that helped launch The Faceoff Academy. It started as a hub and forum for other faceoff specialists to network and gather in one space. Players shared ideas, thoughts, events, really anything that had to do with the faceoff community. It was all centralized on one website.
He listened to his community. Soon, Greg, Chris Mattes, and Jerry Ragonese were traveling the country, especially in underdeveloped and underappreciated communities, and teaching this skill at different camps and clinics.
What started as a simple idea with a niche audience on a website has evolved into revolutionizing the entire game. Today, college coaches understand the importance of finding a great faceoff specialist for their teams. Greg is a big part of that shift.
Jamie Connor, Founder
PlayMore Sport & Social is New Jersey’s largest and premier provider of adult sports and social events throughout South Jersey. Recognizing the importance of reaching the customer audience- young professionals- Jamie and his staff invested in PlayMore’s website design and development in 2010.
After 3 years of rapid growth, PlayMore reached over 500 teams and 6,500 members. They offer a whole slew of sports, including softball, dodgeball, basketball, bowling, cornhole and wiffleball, to name a few.
For years, PlayMore has built its brand through its outstanding customer service. They communicate with their customers on a daily basis and encourage players to share feedback about their experiences. One of the easiest ways this is done is through their Facebook page.
Recognizing that PlayMore’s customers and target audience used Facebook at a high rate, Jamie and the staff optimized their social media use on the mega-social network. PlayMore’s brand and mission seamlessly transferred over to Facebook, where users could easily post daily photos, videos, thoughts, questions, and really anything about the great experiences they had in their leagues.
Chris Stelma, Owner/Trainer/Coach
Located in Sparta, the mission of Fielders Choice and Kaboom is to develop players from a young age through the various levels and ranks of travel, high school, college, and professional baseball and softball. Fielders Choice was founded in 2010 and Kaboom Softball in 2012.
Chris focuses everything around the goal and mission to get his players to the college level. Having played at different levels- County College of Morris and University of Rhode Island- as well as coach at County College of Morris, he understands the recruiting circuit better than most.
Co-owner Matt Malejko also brings a unique background. He joined Chris in 2011 and adds over 20 years of instructor experience to the programs. He also happens to be a scout for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Everything they do, either long term or day-to-day, is focused around the mission and goal to help get opportunities for male and female athletes to play at the next level.