To the women’s soccer world, I have missed you dearly! I’ve learned that within creating a new brand with a brand new program; time tends to be the one thing I never have enough [this is easily balanced out by the amount of questions I field on a weekly basis].
The Kansas City Shock, the first premier’s women’s soccer program in Kansas City, Missouri/Kansas continues to move with full steam ahead. I was pleased that we were able to announce a few weeks ago that we’ve brought on our head coach; Nicole Ortiz. Obviously, this was not a easy task, but instead a rather daunting one. I believe that it is relatively easy to go out and locate a college coach with a national pedigree and a great record/reputation.
Why play by the standard rules? When we started our search for the coach, we started small, local, and most importantly; quiet. We located an individual who isn’t a college coach, who isn’t even a high school coach, but is a club coach, physical education teacher, and national certified with coaching licenses. More importantly; she was young and she was very passionate about growing women’s soccer at the ‘next’ level in her home town; Kansas City. She came to me, we sat down with our Founders, and a long story short; we took the risk, went against the grain, and brought in a young, passionate coach [realistically, telling a 25 year old owner that a 27 year old coach is too young…that’s baffling].
With a coach in hand, we started to turn our attention to our recruiting field. Which is huge. Throughout this process we’ve been in talks with coaches from NAIA, NCAA [D-I, D-II, and D-III], and even NJCAA. More importantly though, we’ve been in contact with players who are fresh out of college, but still burn to play the game. In the event that we have to go professional and lose our college players, these are the key players for our immediate and continual future.
How do we continue to stay on the up-n-up? This simple thought; technology.
I’ll brag on Google for the moment because our entire brand is done through their network [e-mail, hangouts, Google+, etc…]. In a moment I can schedule a meeting on my tablet, tag the staff, and their phones are instantly notified of an upcoming meeting. Afterwards they can click ‘yes’ to accept and on our digital calendar it is immediately noted who is going to be available for the meeting. This goes the same way for business meetings, such as a recent one I had with Level Five Solutions; a mobile application and website design company based out of Kansas City, Kansas who came to us wanting to meet. How was our meeting set up? Through Google Calendar, our location was picked out, through Google Maps I could locate the Starbucks we were meeting in, and through the calendar we could note who was available again, and through GMail we could correspond on things to think on for the meeting.
This is just the tip of Google. Currently, I’m experimenting with Google+ a social media unit, and while I’ve noted that it is vast, and empty [similar to The Grid in Tron], it can be expanded upon. Of course, like most women’s soccer programs…soccer programs period; there is no one out there. So, we’ve embarked on the challenge of creating the following connectors for our business:
- Twitter: Our first movement was to place a Twitter page into the world. Our number one rule with this feed; update daily. There literally isn’t a day when this feed isn’t touched. So many premier programs run their feed for three to four months out of the year, and then they stop. Soccer is a yearly event, why stop when your season does? Sometimes we’re keeping track of local college scoreboards, other days we’re announcing when and where we’re going to be for a meeting; highlighting a local eatery [Freebirds], and some days we are just wishing everyone a happy day. People hate inactive, unattractive feeds; our goal is simple; talk shop and talk frequently.
- Facebook: The other ‘big tool’. Photos are posted through this feed, questions are answered in the way their received; much like a open forum, and our posts along our ‘wall’ go directly into our Twitter posts as well. Facebook is the largest form of social media and while I’m personally a bigger fan of Twitter; it’s vital that we go out and engage in our ‘customers’ wherever they are. Another massive error of women’s soccer; waiting for the customer to come to you. Women’s soccer is quiet enough as it is; waiting around and hoping doesn’t help grow your brand. After all, Kansas City Shock isn’t just a team, it’s a brand, and more importantly; it’s a company.
- LinkedIn: For more of the business savvy groups; LinkedIn is basically a digital resume viewer and business forum. if you’re a ‘professional’ more then likely you’re account on LinkedIn exist. I have my own personal LinkedIn page, but also we quickly created a page for the Shock. Why? Simply this, if you’re a business, look like a business and be open to the public. Some of our greatest supporters [passionately and financially] have been located originally because we’re plugged into the digital, business giant.
- Website: A sad truth is this; if you look at most of the club websites in today’s youth world, and even WPSL world; they’re sad and embarrassing. It looks like someone got a hold of internet tools in 1999. We were very, very picky about our website. Thankfully, one of our passionate Founders happens to be very experienced with website design and journalism. Needless to say, we gave her the green light and she went on to build our site. Again, another part that we believed would be vital for the success of program and separating us from the mass parody of women’s soccer, was to have an online store. Yes, if you’ve seen it, it is not huge at the moment. Expected. However, to be able to flaunt the early ability to get ‘Shock Gear‘ cannot be over expressed. People are trendy and they want to be hip. Being the ‘first’ of anything successful can determine the initial social success of one individual. Face it, even in today’s world; everyone wants to be cool.
- Google+: Most definitely I’m still in the experimental phase with this social media piece. However, the initial results have been positive. Easily Google+ is the most ‘user friendly’ interface across the board; from tablet and computer to smart phone. Posting photos, ‘+1ing’ comments and posts, and reposting items can be done with a simple click. As noted here, a few different thoughts on the success of Google+. One of the areas that cannot be ignored is the hangout feature. Between myself and Nicole, there is nearly 100 miles of driving. Throw in part of our crew in Kansas City, Kansas; Lee’s Summit, Missouri; and elsewhere. Many days we are very spread out. With the right internet connection [key] we can host a 10 person ‘hangout’ meeting through video conference; sharing documents, links, pages, and everything else known to man kind. The opportunity to stay connected even though space is wide out here, is key to our success. With continual conversations and communication, less stress and misunderstanding can take place.
- Tech Conferences: Did you know that Kansas City is now ranked as one of the top ten technological hubs in the United States? Part of this was stemmed by Sporting Innovation, part of the MLS side Sporting Kansas City. Due to this, tech conferences in Kansas City are not unheard of, but instead very frequent. Part of my goal is to be openly plugged into these conferences. What happens when you do the thing that FIFA fears the most? Incorporate technology with the beautiful game? There are already projects in the works for Sporting Kansas City and the Kansas City Shock that are capable of revolutionizing how we view and interact with the game. It turns out, when you dream involves technology, people are far more receptive to the idea of research and development.
These are only some of the ideas that churn around in my head on a daily basis. As you can see, we’re plugged in, in nearly as many ways as possible. However, there is also one more element that we’ve learned about that technology cannot even touch: integrity.
As I’ve come to learn in recent weeks, society is quickly growing tired of lies and manipulation in the common workforce and business practices [including election season]. An amazing discovery that we’ve witnessed is that when we’re honest and open with our business and we actually just let our passion shine through; people are INCREDIBLY receptive to it. Society still believes in dreams and doing the impossible. Culture still wants to see companies and individuals stand up and ‘shock the world’. One of the huge undertakings that we’re working on in the office is the sponsorship packages. We have several options, ranging from $15,000 all the way to $100; ending with a budget total near $55,000 for the season. However, when we’re putting these items together; with the help of our own digital art company, we decided that we’re going to make a two page digital creation. On page one the potential sponsor sees the outlines of the sponsorship packages. When they turn to page two though, they see our entire budget outline; numbers and all. I have a strong belief that people who put financial trust in us, deserve to know exactly where their money is going. Show me another program that has ‘open books’. Realistically, what do I have to hide if I’m spending money as guided with our budget? It has been refreshing to see that people still hold very strong to some sort of a moral compass. FIFA corruption and political lies still turn people away, and there is still the hope that people, our fans, clients, customers, and players deserve something so much better then what we tend to force feed them in today’s business world.
Through all of this, it begs this simple question:
What would happen if women’s soccer took it upon themselves to better utilize a growing technological field?
In conclusion, much continues to be learned on a daily basis. The amount of sleep I get on a daily basis continues to decrease at a rapid pace, and I absolutely love it. Two weeks ago I was in Los Angeles, California for the USA/Australia match. While the game was…tolerable, what was more incredible was talking to so many people, talking about the Shock, and watching their eyes light up with anticipation and more importantly; hope. These people, our fans, still believe in what past owners and clubs have written off as impossible.
As for the Kansas City Shock, we’re going to continue to dare to be different, and in turn, we’re going to continue to shock the world.