From the comforts of northwest Missouri I write to you, the world of women’s soccer; those engaging in growing the beautiful game.
How I’ve missed this template.
In recent months I’ve embarked on a rather exciting, heart stopping adventure named merely as: the Kansas City Shock. Kansas City, Missouri/Kansas [there are two separate cities] is home to one of the top venues of soccer specific stadiums [Livestrong Sporting Park] and one of the top MLS programs in the United States; Sporting Kansas City [I’m slightly biased].
However, in an ever soccer growing area; women’s soccer is yet to be heard from.
Welcome to beginning that’s going to change the face of women’s soccer, and I; the owner, have the front row seat to some of the more entertaining aspects of what we’ve been doing in the ‘front office’ within the realms of women’s soccer; and today, while writing off straight caffeine; I’d like to show you a few things that we’re running with the Shock that has dared us to be different, and continues to shock the world.
I’ve witnessed weathered, veteran coaches and former coaches take over the reigns of ownership for dozens of women soccer programs across the nation. Even the leader of the Women’s Premier Soccer League coaches his own squad; the California Storm. FC Indiana is owned/coached by the same man who coaches the women’s national team of Haiti; it’s just an unspoken reality: if you coach, you own.
This is where we decided to take a different path.
Honestly, I hold no NSCAA/FIFA licenses; I coached at a high school that graduated nearly 60 children a year, and I was considered an unpaid assistant coach. My coaching experience? U8 recreational girls soccer in St. Joseph, Missouri [upgrading to U10 as well this fall!]. My business background? Try manhandling 45 different franchised locations of a international business, breaking seven sales records, including one that has stood for 23 years, have one of the highest grossing stores in the nation, and only be with the company for 11 months. Sales building, profitability analysis, and projected growth are just a few of the daily tasks that I run with each one of my locations. That’s business. Being in charge of literally; millions of dollars, that places it into perspective. My degrees? Education and Political Science? I love state and local government; therefore I’m plugged in to every way shape and form of our culture around us, and knowing the in’s and out’s of what’s allowed for a business within a specific state helps quite a bit as well.
I think the large picture of why I’m glad that I’m not doing the dual coaching/owning aspect is strictly because my goal is to create a profitable model for women’s soccer. If I’m the coach [aside from needing the paperwork], I would be torn between the field and the office. My heart is on the field, but my mind is in the office.
Furthermore, with our incredible ‘Founders’ [the other three gentlemen who quickly hopped on the wagon with me], the stress of ownership decreases substantially. One of the Founders works with the budget, making sure we know where our key expenses are going to be, and making sure that we’re going to cover all of them. Another focuses on merchandise, our online shop, and making sure our inventories stay full [not to mention thinks up our products, including scarves coming out this fall]. Finally, the third is the general manager for the entire organization and his dedication is noted in the fact that the summer tournament we held this month; that was his brainchild from the beginning. These three take a huge amount of pressure off myself when I do need to focus on sponsorship’s, coaches, venues, PR, etc…
Show me another program that has this setup.
Technically it’s true; we do not have a coaching staff…yet. There are three D-I NCAA soccer programs from three conferences in our backyard, at the D-II level, one of the strongest conferences in the United States is stationed in Kansas City. Our added bonus is the NAIA, another non-NCAA division of athletics, plus a few NJCAA programs as well. Our colleges are absolutely everywhere.
I. Do. Not. Want. A. NCAA. Coach.
Simple. I have no beef against the NCAA, but I know the pay range for some [many] of those coaches, and their dedication [as it should be] is on their program at their respective college. I hold nothing against that, but I can also say that I’m selfish and I want to win and have the best of the best program. Because of this, NCAA coaches are a no-go. I need someone that is flexible. Someone who will take the blows with the company, and at the same time will be there when life is at its peak. I need someone who is very financially flexible in the beginning, and can run on their own without a babysitter. I want NSCAA licensing over FIFA because the NSCAA is stationed in Kansas City, and I want to be as involved in our entire community as humanly possible. I can tell you this much, our coaching staff will ‘make sense’, and at the same time will leave many scratching their heads. I like youth, and I thoroughly enjoy those who want to grow with a program.
We’ve already learned a valuable lesson about players in our area.
There are a ton of them! What I found to be more impressive was the fact that out of the 40+ players that showed up on July 1st for our first annual Kansas City Shock Summer Kick-Off, was the fact that so many of them were out of college. What this tells me is that in future thoughts of professional teams [paid players] we will not have to worry about not having enough ‘out of college’ players for a roster. They’re there, and they’re patiently [and impatiently] waiting. What’s even more incredible was the fact that there were so many college players that were devoted to the game. One of the fears that I always have had [since college] was that if you have a college athlete train/play through the summer, you risk the eventual ‘burnout’ that plagues many athletes today. Just the mental aspect of giving up on the fun of the game. One of my priorities is to ensure that when our college players play [and they will], that we send them back to their respective programs better then we originally got them. Remember, we can’t pay college athletes, that’s what the athletic departments in colleges are for. Our hope and belief is being able to not just retain players for our squads over the years from college, but that some of them will move on after college and will have programs across the country to play for. We are going to run try-outs through this late fall and early spring, one for college players, one for non-college, and we’ll get a very good cross section of what the ‘City of Fountains’ [nickname of Kansas City] has to offer.
Make no mistake, these ladies can play, and I’ll undoubtedly expect them to knock out any and every team that comes our way.
The million dollar question; where are we going to play? I’d love to give you a solid answer, but it isn’t here..yet. We’re working on several locations within the Kansas City area. I will say this though, there is much to be said about location, location, and location. It’d be easy to go towards the money of Johnson County, Kansas. However, how can we reach out to the opposite side of the metro area if we just sit in one little niche of the area? We can’t. Because of this, we’re inclined to believe that we want to reach the masses. We’re not a club program, we’re not aiming for soccer mom’s and SUV’s, we’re aiming for the public. I tell you the truth, the public of Kansas City is far more diverse then one might believe.
I dream of one day having our own facility. Literally, a stadium for the Kansas City Shock. Is the possible? Eventually, yes. However, in the forefront, not a chance. Interestingly enough, the prices we’ve ran for the area high school fields in some specific areas are more than some teams are paying for on college areas [this is what education budget cuts get you, bad marketing, and outlandish fees]. We’re in talks, and that’s the best I can say. However, those months when we’re on that field; it’ll be our field and no one else’s.
It’s no secret that the WPSL and the W-League don’t see eye-to-eye in the United States. Honestly though, I could care less about ‘mommy and daddy fighting’ because it isn’t doing a lick of good to assist in growing the game throughout the country.
Kansas City is in soccer fever right now. Sporting Kansas City is red hot, hosting the US Open Cup finals, and we’re still in awe of their new facilities [seriously, it’s off the chain]. I cannot afford to let petty quarrels between two offices get in the way of riding the wave of promotions, advertisement, and hype.
Because of this, when I speak to other owners of women’s soccer teams; I speak to owners about our growth. This means there is communication between WPSL, W-League, ODP, and every other type of club that exists; from Legacy FC in Sparks, Nevada to my own homegrown, hometown club; the Gower Soccer Club. There is never a reason to not dive into soccer, regardless of affiliation. If you want to grow the game; you’ve got to get along. While I can’t share every spoiler out there; there is some rather big news in the works concerning us and next year. I wish I could say more, but even though it’s our first year; it’ll turn heads promptly.
Leaders from WPSL Elite, W-League, MLS, and US Soccer getting together to make a new league in 2013? Come back to me when you get the pulse of all the owners and players.
I lose sleep on this topic every-so-often. Just because it is a delicate topic that has to have a lot of thought placed in it. However, progress is being made. I’m currently developing a structured sponsorship concept that breaks down what “X” amount of sponsorship will bring to a company. One of the things that I’ll quickly say about sponsorship is this.
Nothing is impossible. In fact an interesting question that went through my mind is, “What if we didn’t aim for just soccer sponsors, just apparel sponsors? What if we went for local, large business? What if a women’s soccer jersey’s main sponsor was a alcohol company that was local?”
In the end, it really boils down is what am I willing to do to entice and encourage local business to invest in not just our future, but theirs as well? Kansas City is well known for being innovative in many different styles of business, thought, and class. I see nothing different about the Shock. If we can dial into ‘community’, a very big part of living in the Great Plains; I promise you, the community will reward us.
It’s understandable to not find much structure in this piece. Consider t more of a brief update on what’s going on in my little world in the middle of the United States. Below I will list a few areas that we’re messing around with, that even you can get involved in!
Shock Gear [our lovely e-store, yes; more to come]: Kansas City Shock
US Soccer Foundation #fieldofdreams Contest [click ‘Like’ on the photo to vote for a $8,000 grant for a local soccer club we’re working with]: Vote Here!
And as always, any intriguing, thought provoking thoughts should be kept to ones self, but if you have anything else to share; please find me here atTwitter!
As always a huge thank you for Women’s Soccer United, allowing me to use them as a platform for writing about the beautiful game, and now being able to own a piece of it as well.