Lessons in Gratitude, Giving Back, and Recognition
February 1, 2021
Last week, we paused our day-to-day work to bring the entire company together for our 19th OTAs. Coined by the NFL, OTAs stands for Organized Team Activities which refer to the offseason preparations and team-building exercises that take place before training camp. For professional football teams, it’s the unofficial start to the NFL season.
For us, LeagueApps OTAs are a time to reconnect to our values, spend time building deeper relationships with our teammates, and identify new ways to provide value to our partners. This year, we honed in on three principles to frame our focus in 2021: gratitude, giving back, and recognition. We believe these tenets will help us support youth and local sports leaders as sports return after a difficult year due to the pandemic.
Read on to learn more about how we incorporated these principles into a few team activities.
In the fall, we collectively read the book Thanks a Thousand, A Gratitude Journey by bestselling author, A.J. Jacobs. Jacobs, who is a contributing writer at Esquire and NPR, writes about the power of gratitude and how incorporating it into your day-to-day can lead to more fulfilling, more intentional, and more meaningful work.
To take his idea further and apply it to our mission at LeagueApps, our first OTA activity focused on exploring gratitude with our partners and our broader youth sports community. We broke out into small groups and each reached out to a group of 20 youth sports organizations, thanking them for all that they do to make sports happen.
We connected via email, social media, recorded videos, and handwritten notes. It was a powerful experience for everyone involved.
We believe that creating a better future for youth sports will require industry collaboration and teamwork from a variety of different stakeholders. From youth sports organizations to tech platforms to local government, we all need each other to get where we are going, and it was great to witness the power of gratitude in advancing our collective goals.
2. Giving Back
We know that building a better youth sports industry means making sure that all kids who want to play can play. At LeagueApps, we recognize and seek to tackle the inequities in youth sports through FundPlay–our impact branch that provides tech, training, and support to sports-based youth development organizations in underserved communities.
Our second OTA activity centered around a flash fundraiser for FundPlay, titled #FundPlayDrive, with a goal of raising 50k for youth sports organizations working in underserved communities. We launched a major social media campaign to spread the word, attract donors, and galvanize our community. We sent emails and made calls to youth sports stakeholders. We ran, biked, and walked with baby strollers for a charity mile to raise additional funds. We hosted department meetings with fundraising themes and goals. Our sales team raised $859 in one meeting by sporting these fresh looks:
We hit our goal of 50k in just four days! It was great to see our employees and community quickly mobilize around improving equity and access in youth sports. For LeagueApps, giving back is the gift that keeps on giving because not only were we able to see our success first hand as the money came in, but now we get to give the money away to deserving organizations doing amazing work in their communities.
If you’re interested in supporting youth sports organizations working to create a more equitable society through sports, there’s still time to participate in #FundPlayDrive, you can donate here.
As the operating system and community for youth and local sports, we pull many lessons and metaphors from the world of sports and apply them to our work. In our early stages, we recognized that the best teams in the world center their programs around values.
Whether it’s FC Barcelona and “mes que un club” or the UConn Women’s Basketball team, these programs have sustained success because of their values. Values create a common language for how teams work together, how they make decisions, and ultimately how they handle success and tackle challenges.
In 2015, we officially started giving out awards during OTAs to those members of our company that exemplify and embody LeagueApps values: sportsmanship, passion, openness, results, student of the game, team, difference maker, own your role, and grit (known affectionately at LeagueApps as SPORTSDOG). We believe that our SPORTSDOG values are not only going to help us make sports happen, but they’ll help us do it the right way.
Our closing OTA session featured our SPORTSDOG award ceremony where we recognized those team members that carried our values through 2020. Our CEO, Brian Litvack, and our President, Jeremy Goldberg, dressed to the nines in tuxes and virtually hosted the awards from the office.
To see what the SPORTSDOG awards are all about, check out this video: