The 13th Annual Organized Team Activities (OTAs) Was Perhaps Our Best Yet.
In just a few action-packed days we covered everything from how self-driving cars might affect youth sports to bringing sports to underserved communities and even had time for a little friendly competition between co-workers. Like larger companies, including Uber, Facebook, Salesforce and others, LeagueApps believes in the power of team offsite activities to educate, empower, and enrich employees.
We call these bi-annual meetings and activities the OTAs, or Organized Team Activities. The OTAs allows us to grow as individuals and as a company by expanding our current education, fulfilling our mission to make sports happen, and through team building exercises.
Learning from Past Leaders and Future Technology
As part of our continuing education we looked to the past for lessons in leadership and to the future to examine how tech will affect sport and how to bring athletics to more communities.
Jared Weinstein was an aide to former President George W. Bush. He shared some of the leadership qualities that he saw in the former President.
“He surrounded himself with smart people, with people that shared a similar vision,” he said.
When assessing leaders in the sports industry, Jared compares them to the qualities the former President had. Especially with Nick Saban, coach of his home-state Alabama Crimson Tide.
“He’s installed a culture to keep score of every player on every play, and he only works with smart people that share that same dedication,” Jared said of Saban.
Deepen Parikh is a partner with Courtside Ventures, early-stage founders that are transforming the intersection of sports, technology and media. He spoke about how technology will affect youth sports. He envisions a world in which kids are being driven to games and practices in driver-less cars, while parents watch the players on more devices.
“Being at a game will be so convenient for all of us,” Deepen said. “It’s going to be as easy as registering through a link or an app.”
Making sports happen for all communities
I know the impact sports had on my life as a kid and wish that experience for every kid out there. It’s part of LeagueApps’ mission and one reason I’m proud to be a part of this company. To that end, we heard from two impactful leaders that are actively working to make youth sports available to everyone.
Joel Censer, Director of Advancement for Harlem Lacrosse, told us how in just a few short years, Harlem Lax has increased college scholarship offers for underserved athletes by over 200%, while scaling his program to 3 cities and hundreds of participants.
“We were fortunate that we never had problems getting buy-in from teachers, community members, students, and the lacrosse community,” Joel said. “Everyone supported us because they saw what we were trying to do, believed in the mission, and thought it had the potential to be something special.”
Joel played several sports growing up, but lacrosse makes the most sense to him as a way to reach the community.
“When kids start playing, their end goal is not to have a sneaker contract, but to play for Penn, Duke, or Johns Hopkins. We want them to look up to a player whose goal is to go to college.”
Sue Hunt with Project Play 2020 helps lead initiatives to bring sports to underserved communities and make playing sports safer. Project Play 2020 represents the first time that industry and non-profit groups have come together to develop shared goals around making sport accessible to all children, regardless of zip code or ability.
“Some of the biggest issues we’re focused on fixing by 2020 is around not making sports a ‘consumer decision,’ and helping young athletes realize how dangerous sport specialization is,” Sue said.
Team Building Through Competition
It’s fun to brainstorm with others that I might not normally work with during a normal day to get a fresh look at an issue or problem.
But it’s more fun to celebrate collaboration through what my sports-loving colleagues and I know best: competition. This year’s activity pitted LeagueApps teammates against each other at the bowling lanes. I quickly learned: we all might be athletes, but only a few of us can actually bowl.
Most of us were high school or collegiate athletes. However, our collective average bowling score teetered around 100. Colby Auerbach set the bar high for future bowling outings with a score near 200.
“Baseball players believe we are the most well-rounded athletes,” Colby said. “It was nice to deliver results and prove the point pretty handedly. I bring competition to everything I do no matter what- cooking, mario kart, and bowling ”
League Apps is growing quickly; we’ll be moving into bigger offices in a couple short weeks. We were able to spend some time in the new office. I’m excited for what the future has in store at our new headquarters, and the new activities we’ll be a part of.