Day Two of the Only Youth Sports Management Conference Was a Success
By Melissa Wickes
October 7, 2022
And that’s a wrap! NextUp 2022: the Youth Sports Management Conference was a huge success and we have so many incredible leaders in the youth sports community to thank for that. By bringing together like-minded, hardworking youth sports leaders in one room over the last two days, we were able to uncover so many new insights about the industry and what we need to do to move it forward.
On Day 1, we hosted a number of panels including “The Changing Future of Youth Sports” and “Putting the Why in Youth Sports” with impressive speakers like Paul Rabil, Renata Simril of LA84 Foundation, Derrick Dockery, and Victoria Arlen. You can read more about what happened at Day 1 of the conference here.
Day 2 was just as exciting—with more informative sessions and visits by impressive leaders in youth and professional sports. Here’s the play-by-play:
State of LeagueApps
We kicked Day 2 off with a State of LeagueApps presentation, led by Brian Litvack, CEO of LeagueApps.
Rebecca Gross, VP of Product, presented LeagueApps’ product initiatives—like scheduling, payments/registrations, communications/mobile chat, and insightful data solutions. After, Zach Boisi, VP of Customer Success, gave a customer success update—which included the growth of the team, in-person community development efforts (like NextUp, events, and our winter offsite), and introduced LeagueApps’ All Stars.
All Stars is LeagueApps’ newest program offering our community of youth sports organizers a place to continue their connection beyond NextUp. Stay tuned for more on that!
High Performance on and Off the Field
Our first MainStage session was a panel of powerful women led by our impressive emcee Victoria Arlen. The panelists, Swin Cash, 3x WNBA Champion and 2x US Olympian, and Tanisha Wright, Head Coach of Atlanta Dream, talked through the ways to create a high-performing organization that delivers on its goals, and how to create experiences that unlock success not just in the present, but for a lifetime.
The panelists touched on the elements that make up a championship team, like leadership and selflessness. Additionally, they discussed how to own your role and the importance of “starring in your role.”
Tanisha is someone who transitioned from being a player to a coach, and focusing on building players up is how she has found success in both. Similarly, Swin went from player to executive and the lessons she learned playing basketball have been instrumental in her success as an executive, too.
Francis Anzalone joined the discussion to offer his insights as COO of Total Package Hockey. To him, high performance is all about maximizing potential and trust. Trust can be achieved in three ways: through what he calls “radical candor”—or extreme honesty—by fostering a safe environment and teaching kids to accept each other’s differences, and through player-centered enthusiastic direction.
To elaborate on these topics, attendees broke out into breakout sessions—”Building and Scaling Your Business,” “Digital Marketing,” and “DEI & Organizational Inclusivity.” Coaches, organizers, and other youth sports administrators had the opportunity to discuss how their businesses can thrive by focusing in these areas.
Where Youth Sports Meets Culture
For this discussion, a number of leaders in the youth sports industry joined a panel led by LeagueApps president Jeremy Goldberg to highlight perspectives that help youth sports leaders appreciate the many dimensions of youth sports management.
Erica Anderson, co-founder and CEO of the New Savant, talked about the impact of social media on kids growing up—and the big challenge of youth seeking validation online. To combat this challenge, she suggests teaching them early on not to attach self worth to online presence.
Reed Schaffner, co-founder and COO of MOJO, discussed how applying the principles of engineering video games to sports programs can help make them more fun for players. After all, the creator economy is affecting the youth in many ways both good and bad—while it gives more power to the athlete, it provides for a higher chance for burn out.
He highlighted the importance of creating a safe environment to be yourself by gathering data with surveys to address the issues the kids are concerned about. Parents should be involved in these conversations, too. Talk to them, find out what they’re concerned about, and value those concerns above all else.
We couldn’t be more excited to have had the opportunity to bring all of these amazing minds in youth sports back together in one room once again, for the first time since 2019. Attendees had the opportunity to learn so much about the industry—including technology, mental health, culture, high performance, and of course, everything that’s on the horizon. NextUp is a huge part of what makes this industry so special and we know it will continue to bring the youth sports world together for years to come. See you next year!
PS: Stay tuned for all of the useful content that will come out of this conference—including video highlights, blog posts, interviews with some of the amazing youth sports leaders who attended, and more!