How We’re Creating Community in Uncertain Times with the Digital Launch of NextUp
By Jamie Hancock
March 18, 2020
A message from LeagueApps President and Co-Founder, Jeremy Goldberg:
With all of this talk of social distancing, I appreciate more than ever moments of togetherness.
One of my favorite memories from this past year—and a moment of togetherness that I’ve found myself thinking about a lot since the Coronavirus drove us indoors—was on November 4, when I delivered the opening address to a standing-room-only crowd at NextUp, the very first youth sports industry conference.
On the wall to my right was a giant reproduction of the words of a personal hero of mine, Muhammad Ali: “If your mind can conceive it, and your heart can believe it—then you can achieve it.” (As an aside, the only time I ever skipped class in college was when I caught wind of Ali’s presence at the student center at Georgetown. I’ll never forget what it felt like to be in his presence, as young and old alike pressed together to hear his playful interaction with all of us.)
Muhammad Ali personified the power of belief. Belief in his religion, which led him to step away from the ring for four years because of his commitment to non-violence. Belief in himself, with a confidence that may be unmatched in the history of sports. And belief in the power of sports to be a platform for leadership, character building—and most importantly, togetherness.
I have appropriated Ali’s words as a personal motto. They serve as a constant reminder of what we can achieve when we dream big—and they were constantly on my mind as we planned our conference last fall.
For years, we had talked about hosting an event like this. We felt the need for a community that would support the next generation of youth leaders: providing them with support, professional and leadership development, and the ability to provide their players and coaches with amazing sports experiences. We recognized that the institution of youth sports that we had grown up with was changing—and that we had an opportunity to ensure that it was for the better. And most importantly, we believed in the power of strength in numbers, and what happens when like minded individuals come together around a shared goal.
NextUp exceeded all of our expectations. We sold out the event, with over 350 sports organizers in attendance. It was a transformative experience for everyone in the room—both according to the feedback we received (“this was an absolute must for any leader in the industry”) and the Net Promoter Score (NPS) that we were given: a 79. (I’m told this is the score you’d expect at your only daughter’s wedding, not a professional conference.)
This incredible feedback is why we were so excited to announce the dates for the next conference. And it’s also why, when we learned that the Coronavirus would sideline youth sports for the foreseeable future, we decided to hold this announcement—and bring the community online instead.
Like most leaders, youth sports professionals are being tested like never before. They’re doing whatever it takes to survive—forgoing paychecks, furloughing coaches—and they’re in great need of guidance and support. So what started as a first-of-its-kind industry event will now be a digital platform for thought leadership, industry best practices, and uniting a community of youth professionals—driven by virtual events, written and video content, and more.
We’ll kick things off this Thursday, March 19th from 1-2 pm with our first-ever NextUp Town Hall: Navigating the Coronavirus in Your Community. Expect it to be a state of the union on all things COVID-19. Come with your ideas and questions, and RSVP HERE.
What else you can expect from this new digital community:
- Forums for conversation and collaboration, moderated by members of the LeagueApps team and other industry leaders
- Insights, guidance, and advice from a team of experts in the world of sport and beyond
- Actionable tips for managing your business and organization during this uncertain time
The best part about NextUp is that it’s designed by, and for, the youth sports industry. So we always want to know what you’d find valuable: whether that’s a virtual town hall, a blog post, or something else. You can leave your comments on our LinkedIn posts, message me, or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas and suggestions.
Even the great Muhammad Ali got knocked down. But it’s how you get back up that’s the measure of a champion. The youth sports industry will be back, and better than ever. And when that happens, the NextUp conference will be back with it—bigger and bolder than before.
Sports teaches us you win as a team. At LeagueApps, we’re excited to play our part in building the community that is creating the future of youth sports.
*This blog was first published on my LinkedIn.