The Buzz Surrounding NextUp 2019
For generations the typical youth sports experience was hyper-local. Community leagues and pickup games were the norm, and the idea of getting on a bus to play teams out-of-town or out-of-state was solely reserved for high school athletics. As parents, coaches and players can now attest, that small-scale, local experience is a thing of the past. Travel teams, private coaches, live-streaming, and apparel deals have filtered down to the youth sports level, bringing with them a level of professionalization. Yet, despite these advancements, the youth sports community remains fragmented. Associations and governing bodies are often at odds with one another and vary widely state to state and region to region. Nearly every stakeholder within the youth sports community has been clamoring for a single voice to rally behind.
As a leader in this community, we heard that call and put our values as a company on display. NextUp: The Youth Sports Industry Conference served as a prime example of what can be accomplished when the leading voices within our space come together for a common goal. The two-day event, held in New York City, brought together hundreds of youth sports organizers, world-class athletes, representatives from the four major professional sports, groundbreaking entrepreneurs, and some of the most influential individuals in sports media today.
Here are some of the things we overheard about the conference:
“The content was strong, and the overall vibe was unique in that everyone–regardless of organization or background–was made to feel part of a common youth-focused goal. The vast majority of sessions I attended were interesting, and both the panelists and moderators were well-prepared and engaging.”
Name: Sarah Padove
Organization: Major League Baseball
As a senior coordinator at MLB, Sarah has spent the last two years organizing initiatives like PLAY BALL and the Little League Classic. In total, baseball and softball development initiatives reach more than one million kids per year.
“It was an absolute pleasure to speak on your panel [about building winning organizations]. I really enjoyed myself and glad to hear it was well-received.”
Name: Lance Thomas
Thomas is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and American professional basketball player who most recently played for the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Most notable, he was named the New York Knicks captain for the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 seasons.
“It’s rare that we cross sports lines and levels within each (e.g. pro, amateur) to share ideas and best practices. Kudos to LeagueApps for leading the way and pulling everyone together for #NextUp2019.”
Name: Rick Nadeau
Organization: New York Rangers
Nadeau manages community and alumni relations with a primary focus on developing youth hockey in the tri-state area. He also serves on the NHL’s Youth Hockey Advisory Board and is an active member of the Ice Skating Institute and the Metropolitan Ice Rink Managers’ Association.
“We’re honored to partner with a company that is invested in creating BOTH a more efficient and equitable youth sports experience and to work alongside Jared Cooper, Jeremy Goldberg, Brian Litvack and the rest of the amazing LeagueApps team. Let’s build a future where every kid has a real opportunity to get in the game!”
Name: Joel Censer
Organization: Harlem Lacrosse
Censer serves as the Chief Program Officer, empowering the children who are most at risk for academic decline and dropout to rise above their challenges and reach their full potential. One of the most impactful and caring youth organizations in the country, Harlem Lacrosse was honored at NextUp as one of our FundPlay recipients.
“This was honestly one of the best conferences I’ve ever been to—and I’ve been to a fair share of them. It was incredibly well-organized and the level of experience and wisdom that the speakers/panelists all brought to the table was incredible—every single panel and discussion was a ‘can’t-miss’.”
Name: Kerry Woloszynek
Organization: Cleveland Cavaliers
As the Director of Fan Development, Woloszynek is responsible for developing marketing concepts and campaigns toward targeted and key organizational initiatives. She shared her marketing expertise at NextUp while speaking at the session, “Look Good, Feel Good, Play Good”: Creating the Perfect Website.