Front Office

Media Room

LeagueApps Co-Founder and CEO Brian Litvack is Named one of Sports Business Journal’s Youth Sports: Ones to Watch

By Melissa Wickes
May 3, 2023
8 min

New York, N.Y. (May 1, 2023) — LeagueApps co-founder and CEO Brian Litvack was named one of Sports Business Journal’s Youth Sports: Ones to Watch, amongst some of the incredible organizations Brian feels so fortunate to work with—like Ripken Baseball, 3Step Sports, the National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), RCX, and USA Hockey.

— The article below was originally published on —

Meet some of the people charting the course for youth sports and taking steps to get more children to play

— Compiled by Erik Spanberg, Xavier Hunter and Wes Sanderson


Photo Courtesy U.S. Soccer Foundation via SBJ

Ed Foster-Simeon

President and Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Soccer Foundation

As the top executive at the foundation for the past 15 years, Foster-Simeon has focused on bringing soccer and soccer equipment to low-income neighborhoods. The foundation, working over the past five years with partners such as Musco Lighting, has built 500 mini-pitches — hard-court soccer “fields” the size of a basketball court and including goals, markings, fences and lighting — in neighborhoods across the U.S. Partnerships with pro teams, organizing committees and groups, including the Black Players for Change (made up of MLS players, coaches and staff who are Black) and Black Women’s Player Collective (made up of NWSL players who are Black), have convinced Foster-Simeon that the foundation can reach its goal of 1,000 mini-pitches by 2026. — E.S.

Photo Courtesy NBA via SBJ

Adam Harper

Associate Vice President, Youth Basketball, National Basketball Association

Since joining the NBA in 2017, Harper has been responsible for the launch and implementation of Jr. NBA Leagues, a new national network of youth basketball leagues in 10 markets across the country that has reached approximately 14,000 youths across nearly 40 organizations. Through the new leagues, NBA and WNBA teams offer exclusive experiences and resources such as a curriculum library, coaching clinics led by pro coaching staffs, potential meet-and-greets with athletes, and in-arena experiences for youth teams on game days. Accessibility is an important focus for Jr. NBA Leagues following the disruption and decrease in community-based sports providers caused by the pandemic. — X.H.

Photo Courtesy Youth on Course via SBJ

Adam Heieck

Chief Executive Officer, Youth on Course

Since its launch in 2006, Youth on Course has provided over 2 million rounds of subsidized golf to kids across the U.S. Heieck credits his work through a USGA-funded internship at the Northern California Golf Association as a great introduction and education into how Youth on Course would operate and how to properly scale the organization. He said the organization is expanding its footprint, recently going international in Australia along with its markets in Texas and Florida. Youth on Course also is looking to bolster its largest fundraiser, the 100 Hole Hike, which runs on various days and courses across the U.S. from June to November, all with the goal of playing and walking 100 holes of golf and raising money for youth access to golf. — W.S.

Photo Courtesy Ripken Baseball via SBJ

Michael Kenney

Chief Executive Officer, Ripken Baseball

Since joining Ripken Baseball in 2019, Kenney has worked to make the Ripken experience stretch further than the participant, making it rewarding for the whole family. Kenney’s goal is for every tournament participant to feel like a major leaguer for a day and create connective memories, an effort that draws off his time with the Harlem Globetrotters, an organization that’s transcended generations. Ripken Baseball continues its mission to grow the game by hosting the Baseball For All national tournament July 12-16 in Elizabethtown, Ky., and launching the All-Ripken brand, which focuses on individual elite-training performance for youth athletes starting with the All-Ripken Games July 27-30, also in Elizabethtown. — W.S.

Photo Courtesy 3Step Sports via SBJ

Tania King

Chief Executive Officer, 3STEP Sports

King brought an extensive résumé of company-building experiences and executive roles in strategy, compliance and legal matters when she accepted an offer in November to become CEO of the Massachusetts-based youth sports company. 3STEP has become a power in youth sports by acquiring leagues and events, now covering 43 states and 3.2 million participants in nine sports. The company’s portfolio includes facilities management, video and media content, sponsorship sales, travel services, and custom team gear and uniforms. King’s previous role as operating adviser at Juggernaut Capital Partners included shepherding the sale last year of nostalgia-friendly sports apparel brand Mitchell & Ness to Fanatics. — E.S.

Brian Litvack

Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, LeagueApps

Litvack is an entrepreneur who has built a mission-driven company that offers a comprehensive software platform with tools, training and resources for successful management of youth sports programs. He is a founder and board member of the FundPlay Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides free software to more than 400 community sports organizations. With over 100 FundPlay partners, such as America SCORES, PeacePlayers and Harlem Lacrosse, it has enabled sports opportunities for more than 550,000 children. This year, Litvack aims to develop more tools for coaches, parents and players through the LeagueApps Play app. — X.H.

Photo Courtesy NBC Sports Next via SBJ

Brett MacKinnon

Senior Vice President and General Manager, Youth and Recreational Sports, NBC Sports Next

MacKinnon combines both his experience in tech and passion in youth sports at NBC Sports Next. The company recently announced a partnership with US Youth Soccer that will see NBCSN’s SportsEngine youth sports management platform create a digital network for USYS to deliver content to its 54 state associations and members. That includes more than 10,000 clubs and leagues, and nearly 1 million administrators, coaches and volunteers. Through the acquisition and integration of livestreaming outfit Rapid Replay in 2022, the company is focused on creating the preeminent video and streaming solution for youth sports. — X.H.

Photo Courtesy USA Hockey via SBJ

Ken Martel

Senior Director, Player and Coach Development, USA Hockey

Martel has over 25 years of experience in player development and was named to his current post last November. He and USA Hockey aim to create programs to provide kids free access to hockey equipment to ease barriers to entry. In addition to resource allocation, the national governing body is researching segments to enhance training experiences for youths such as drills, impact of age and growth rates, team selection, and competition structure, along with diversifying the communities for their programs. — X.H.

Photo Courtesy USTA via SBJ

Craig Morris

Chief Executive Officer, Community Tennis, United States Tennis Association

During the last five years, Morris and the USTA have revamped their outreach to schools, recognizing that reaching kids where they are offers the best chance for success for winning net-minded converts. The early returns are encouraging: Over 21,000 schools have added tennis to P.E. classes since the USTA started its Net Generation push in 2017, including training for 13,687 P.E. teachers. The USTA estimates its Net Generation kits have created opportunities for 6.4 million children to play tennis, with an average of 711 kids reached in each school that receives a kit. — E.S.

Photo Courtesy NFHS via SBJ

Karissa Niehoff

Chief Executive Officer, National Federation of State High School Associations

It’s fitting that Niehoff runs the nonprofit that helps guide strategy and policy for 51 state high school associations encompassing 19,500 schools. Her 33 years in education included stints as a teacher, coach, athletic director, assistant principal and principal, in both middle and high schools. Niehoff went on to lead Connecticut’s state high school athletics association. In 2018, she took the reins at the Indianapolis-based NFHS, where, among other things, she has helped make the organization a key ally of the U.S. Department of Education promoting COVID-19 vaccines for students ages 12 to 18; established ties with the Aspen Institute to increase youth sports participation; and worked with the NFL to promote high school football and girls flag football. — E.S.

Photo Courtesy Lakepoint Sports via SBJ

Mark O’Brien

President, Chief Executive Officer and Board Member, LakePoint Sports

Since arriving in 2019, O’Brien has led the launch of a media and tech platform and a focus on the guest experience that has resulted in 117% revenue growth from LakePoint-owned and operated events, in-house led media, technology, food and beverage, merchandise, housing, and production and sponsorships. Additionally, O’Brien is meeting with best-in-industry leaders to scale a business model that would include three to six locations nationwide, along with vertical integration of sports segments, including club sport infrastructure, tournaments and camps. The model also calls for the development of training centers, hotels, restaurants, retail, and experiential real estate development. — X.H.

Photo Courtesy MLB via SBJ

Tony Reagins

Chief Baseball Development Officer, Major League Baseball

Since stepping into his role in 2020, Reagins has focused specifically on young people whose opportunities may have been limited by finances and availability. He helped launch MLB’s “Play Ball” initiative, which has increased casual participation in the sport by more than 80% since its inception in 2015. On top of initiatives such as the Breakthrough Series, Hank Aaron Invitational and DREAM Series, Reagins said MLB is launching MLB “The Program,” which is centered around 15- to 16-year-old elite players who will travel to the Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach, Fla., for a month to train with MLB personnel and compete in high-profile youth tournaments on weekends. — W.S.

Photo Courtesy RCX Sports via SBJ

Izell Reese

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, RCX Sports

Reese played seven seasons in the NFL before transitioning into a career focused on making youth sports accessible and inclusive. RCX counts the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and MLS as clients, working with those leagues to establish youth recreational and community programs. He has played a leading role in the NFL’s flag football initiative, increasing participation to 600,000 children. Last fall, the NBA and WNBA announced Jr. NBA Leagues for kids ages 6 to 14, with a goal of having 500,000 children playing in the rec leagues by 2027. NHL Street has 32 new clubs starting this year, and MLB’s Pitch, Hit & Run and Jr. Home Run Derby consist of a combined 26 events and 1,040 participants in 22 states. — E.S.