“The way we have built our culture is by being very intentional,” stated i9 Sports® CEO Brian Sanders when recently interviewed by the team at Just Go Play, a popular podcast whose mission is to keep kids in sports for life – a mission that ties closely with our own.
“We all realized that youth sports have become overly competitive, overly political and this has essentially sucked the fun out. Our goal when we started was to create a model that instead of being adult focused, was kid focused and focused on fun – providing an opportunity for them to learn a sport, learn what they like, what they are good at, learn good sportsmanship and what it’s like to be a part of something bigger than yourself. That’s what we’ve been all about,” said Sanders when discussing the state of youth sports with Taryn Lipschitz host of the Just Go Play podcast.
At i9 Sports®, we believe in the importance of building a youth sports culture that is kid-focused, where young athletes can learn how to play various sports, discover what they like best, and develop good sportsmanship habits in the process.
“You’re going to have a culture whether you want one or not. The question is, do you want to build an intentional culture where the behaviors you see on the field align with the values of the organization,” stressed Sanders.
When you talk about culture in youth sports it’s easy to say here are the things we WANT to do, it’s another story actually implementing those expectations. With kids being our key stakeholders, we set the bar high when it comes to our expectations for staff, parents and coaches alike. It starts at the top, but takes all of us.
Our mission is to help kids succeed in life through sports. This means doing everything we can to be intentional about our programming, training, customer service, and the overall experience that we provide.
We can’t ask our coaches and parents to exemplify behaviors that we ourselves wouldn’t. Staff members play a key role in our culture and we are dedicated to making sure the values we believe in are apparent through the actions of all employees. From referees to program directors, it’s up to all of us to set an example of the good sportsmanship we want kids to learn.
We know that some of our coaches may have not coached at this level before and as host Taryn Lipschitz said, “we give our volunteers confidence to coach.” We provide a two-part training to ensure everyone feels equipped with the knowledge and preparation needed to provide a wonderful experience for i9 Sports® athletes. The first part is done online and the second part is done in person as the season approaches.
Parents play one of the most important roles in the culture of youth sports and a survey showed that 31% of youth athletes wish parents were not watching their games.With a strong influence on young players, we want to ensure parents are adding positively to the gameday experience and we ask that every i9 Sports® parent take the i9 Sports® Parental Pledge.
At i9 Sports®, we want to provide an experience that is fun for kids and convenient for today’s busy families and that begins with our culture. Brian explains that, “culture is key because it underpins the experience that we want to provide,” and we are excited for you to be part of that experience!
Listen to the full Just Go Play podcast episode here to learn more about the culture of youth sports!