In this episode, she discusses the role community plays at LeagueApps, how they’re uplifting local communities, and their role in the professionalization of Youth Sports Management.
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The Community-Led Show #8: TL; DL
LeagueApps is a platform and community for youth and local sports organizers and leaders, providing them with the tools they need to succeed.
According to Benita, one of their main goals is to ensure that as many kids as possible are able to participate in the sports that they are interested in and learn from the experiences they have on the field.
Their community is made up of youth sports professionals across the various sports including; coaches, leaders, and teachers. They use the platform to organize sports programs for their specific communities.
“Before LeagueApps, there’s never been an opportunity for these professionals to get together across sports and really talk about this burgeoning field that we call Youth Sports Management,” says Benita. “And so, these leaders are now doing this work full-time. Whereas when I was a kid, moms and dads were the couches and did this work on a volunteer basis.”
“Today, these youth sports organizations are very professionally run. And our platform provides professional development and networking for these organizers and leaders in youth sports management,” says Benita.
Benita has worn many hats in her career, but one thing that has been a constant for her is community.
She won a gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics for the women's 100 meters hurdles event, has worked in telecommunications, has been the CEO at Laureus, is an industrial engineer, and much more.
“In all these stages of my life, community has been consistent,” she says. “Whether it's a community of athletes, a community of youth sports organizations, a community of elite national governing bodies, or women in cable telecommunications — I have been a part of it all and it's second nature to me.”
“When the LeagueApps opportunity came I didn't know much about SaaS companies but I've learned a lot over the past 18 months and it's a lot of fun to be part of a growing company. Within these 18 months, we've doubled in size and we’re still growing like wildfire.
"It’s so awesome to be on the for-profit side for a change, with the resources to be able to really have an impact on the industry,” says Benita.
Sports communities have worked for many years and it was natural for LeagueApps as a company to focus on community building.
“People have an innate need to congregate, to get together, to learn with and from one another,” says Benita. “It's so much more fun to learn a new skill or be taught something new through collaboration with your peers.
“I believe that's why associations have been around for so many years and why corporations are now taking heed to create communities around their products and services.”
Benita adds that the youth sports leagues, teams, and tournaments are LeagueApps’ communities in and of themselves. “Community has really aligned with our mission and values — it has helped us turbocharge our brand in many ways.”
“First and foremost, we want to provide great support, service, and community to our members. We also want to continue to develop the team and the resources that we need to grow the community.”
Their NextUp conference is a huge part of their community-building efforts. Their first in-person event was in 2019. In 2020 it was held virtually because of the pandemic and it was put on hold in 2021.
“Putting on a successful mix of conferences is one of our biggest goals for 2022. We’re moving forward to building a platform with the conference that we can grow and scale in the years to come," says Benita.
Another big goal for LeagueApps is to double down on the idea of Youth Sports Management as a profession.
“I alluded a little earlier to the fact that for many years, most youth sports organizations are run by volunteers that may get a stipend,” says Benita. “Professionals get paid a salary but most of the coaches running these organizations don’t get paid full time or at least get a stipend of some kind. We want to help them understand that they’re not alone. That’s a part of our immediate goals for the next year or two.”
Naturally, sports communities are in-person and events-driven. During Covid, LeagueApps had to rethink how they would operate when the whole world shut down.
“The pandemic certainly pushed us in the direction of virtual communities,” says Benita, “We hosted dozens of online content such as town halls, roundtables, and events during the pandemic.”
LeagueApps even went on to win a Hashtag Sports award for the Best Sports Programming during the pandemic.
“We feel very proud of what we were able to accomplish in 2020,” she says. “Of course, we had a pretty cool captive audience even when sports was shut down for much of 2020. But it, thankfully, came roaring back in 2021 and 2022 so we're slowly incorporating in-person events again and we will be hosting our NextUp Conference on October 6th and 7th in New York City,” she says.
As we touch on in the show, we've got a whole host of things available on our Community-Led site. There, you'll find the Community-Led Growth Model, The 2022 Community-Led Report, and the Community-Led Assessment.