Each Thanksgiving my grandfather requires each family member to share the ten things we are grateful for. As Matt and I look back on the past ten years in business (!!), we are grateful for the opportunities to grow what we believe is the best-recruiting technology company. We are grateful for our employees and our customers, but I wanted to take some time to thank eleven (not ten) people who helped us build our company. When you are starting out, you need people to take a chance on you. These people talked through challenges with us, acted as role models, responded to texts in minutes, made introductions and sent us holiday cards.
Our success is in our community.
Here are eleven people who helped make SportsRecruits (LacrosseRecruits) what it is today,
Chris Hutchins – Facebook served this photo up to Matt the other day and we both got a good laugh. Without this weekend in 2009, odds are 50/50 the business would be around today. At breakfast in early 2009, Chris Hutchins took a chance on two 25-year-olds with a website called LacrosseRecruits, who wanted to film games at Diamond Showcase. At that point, nobody was filming at events, but Chris Hutchins gave us that shot. He took a chance, and in one weekend, we made more money than the previous 18 months. The car ride back to CT after that event was something neither of us will ever forget. Chris is one of our favorite people, always asks how your family is doing and wouldn’t let a struggling 25-year-old pay for breakfast at that meeting.
Jake Reed – Our partnership with Jake and Nike Blue Chip helped develop our brand and fortified our business as we tried to figure out our business model. At the end of 2010 after working the event for a summer, Jake called me as our contract was approaching its expiration and said: “I hate to do this, but this other group is willing to pay me a lot more money.” At that point, it was an aggressive offer for us to try to counter. Jake spent the next week working with us to figure out how we could drive more business so we could match the higher offer. We celebrated the new agreement at Annabelle Lee Tavern. It was an early lesson about how to treat partners.
Charlie Shoulberg – Charlie has pushed us to provide the best experiences for STEPs families and his event participants. We have watched him build one of the top club and event brands in girl’s lacrosse. It has been a relationship that shows us what is possible by focusing on operational excellence. And also how to have fun… after running some of the biggest tournaments all summer, he runs a top-notch mini-golf tournament for families and friends in the local community.
Ashley Gersuk Murphy – Our college friend Blake was living out in Chicago and made an intro to Ashley in 2008. Our first meeting with Ashley happened before the website was even live. She must have thought we were insane! Ashley has been running the most dialed-in events since the mid-2000s. No wonder she was tapped to run Summit Lacrosse Ventures (Lake Placid Tourney). She has been an excellent business/life friend and is a reminder ALWAYS to put the players’ interests first.
Mike Winkoff – Mike is one of my favorite Club Directors. In the summer of 2008 we were at King of The Hill throwing flyers on car windows and randomly met Mike on the sidelines. He has given us two chances to work together. We messed up the first time, but got things back on track and then have been working together for the last six years on a club and event basis. Seeing Mike and his son Cory build FLG makes me feel good about being a new dad and the idea of creating something for the future. Mike probably does not even remember this, but we did a combine in 2009 and he sent some kids to help us out. Check out this blast from the past video. Fun fact, Matt’s high school friend who shot this video is now an Oscar nominated producer.
Kira Muller – Kira advocated for our USLacrosse partnership in 2010-2012. She could see how our platform would be useful to families like hers and pushed for us to create recruiting content and curriculum for USL. It gave our brand legitimacy and taught us how to work with NGBs.
Alex Whitten – Alex played at Duke and was a rising coaching star in the CT lacrosse world in our early years. Alex helped us develop Super Sophs and had the guts to stand up at the annual CT coaches meeting and say I am doing this event with these LacrosseRecruits guys, please send your kids. That first year, we had 75 kids. Our Vineyard Vines jerseys had a cult following. Thank you for letting us borrow some of that courage early on.
Gerry Byrne – I cold-called Gerry to pitch a filming partnership at his Texas 99 event. Over time, we were shooting hype videos for ND Lax and learning about building a marketing machine that could get LI/Baltimore kids to feel at home in South Bend. He is a great coach who understands all of the moving pieces in the recruiting ecosystem. Next time you see GB, ask him about the time we were making ice cream sundaes on the VIP level at ND stadium in our media vests.
John Gagliardi – I received a call while I was living in Utah about this guy at the bar who wanted to hear about my lacrosse website idea. The “guy” happened to be the guy who started Maverik and one of the most legendary lacrosse players of all time. John made connections to the Maverik/Showtime team and then continued to mentor me at the UWS Sweetgreens and Riverside Park.
Lori Brown – Lori was an early adopter of our club platform. We lost her business when we started selling her families recruiting advising packages, which T3 was doing internally. She taught me a lesson about understanding your customer’s business and how you need to make sure you are aligned. (We no longer sell advising to our partner clubs). I was having beers with the Founder of CaptainU a few weeks back and he said, “I wish every Club Director got it like Lori.” She was asking about API integrations before any club was.
Jamie Munro – When you start a business, you get a lot of people telling you that your idea won’t work. In 2009, I went into Jamie’s office when he was the head coach at Denver University to tell him about LacrosseRecruits. He said that he thought it was a good idea, would use it and suggested ways it would be helpful for college coaches. That encouragement was enough to power through the early doubters.
To each of you (and so many others), thank you for all of your help and support. You helped us develop a platform to pursue our dreams and the dreams of thousands of high school student-athletes.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy the long weekend, Chris