When Toshia and Roger Lawless saw how much they and their children enjoyed their local i9 Sports program, they decided to become i9 Sports area developers and launch their own league. Of course, the transition to business ownership wasn’t quite that simple, but Toshia says once the idea surfaced to start a youth sports franchise, it seemed like a natural fit for the Boise, Idaho, family.
“I had thought about owning my own business — that’s why I got a business administration degree — but I didn’t know what it would be,” Toshia says. “My husband was the first one who was interested in the i9 Sports franchise, and he convinced me to take a look at it.”
At the time Toshia had recently stepped back from her role as a full-time human resources manager and was working part time in a payroll position. Roger, who works full time for Idaho Power, spotted i9 Sports franchise information in an email about the end of their local league, and told Toshia about it. The mom of three wasn’t looking to start a business at that point, but the more she learned about the work-from-home franchise, the more things started to click into place.
“It was a way for us to have a better quality of life. We had been missing the girls’ school activities and didn’t get to spend too much time with them,” Toshia says. “I thought, ‘Let’s do this business and I can work on it from home. I have the business and payroll background, so I can do that part of it. Roger can help out in operations and with the sports.’”
The couple became i9 Sports area developers in December 2015, offering flag football, soccer and T-ball. Beginning in January 2017, they added winter basketball to their roster. Roger works with operations on the field and has coached all four sports offered in their leagues, as well. Toshia says her responsibilities, “other than being a full-time mom,” include hiring, payroll, financials, purchasing, and coordination with the i9 Sports home office. She also does marketing and community outreach for the business.
Toshia, who grew up on a potato farm in southern Idaho, is excited to have secured some beneficial community and business partnerships. The city of Meridian calls upon her to represent the business at community fun runs and other events. She recently partnered with the owner of the local Chick-fil-A, whose son has been involved in all of the Lawless’ i9 Sports programs since their first season. The owner passed out flyers in the dining room and included them in drive-through bags, as well. Toshia also hosted a registration event at Fleet Feet Sports Meridian. She seeks partnerships with organizations that have a health and wellness focus, especially ones that cater to children.
“I like being able to meet with people in the community and be involved in the community more now,” she says. “It’s a more pleasant work environment because I I’m providing the community something they’re looking for and something they find value in.”
The couple wants to eventually bring their i9 Sports leagues to even more communities, and right now Toshia is looking for a venue that will serve a new area of Boise. At the same time, she’s marketing for spring season leagues by making calls, sending emails and working with partners within the community. Now having been running for more than a year, Toshia wants to grow participation — and fast.
“I’m proud of what we’ve been able to establish in the last year,” she says. “But the first few seasons, we were just getting the hang of it. Now we can sink in our teeth and grow a little bit.”
Though her days are busy, Toshia says they take on a different cadence than they used to. With her work-from-home franchise, she sets her own schedule and is able to spend more time with Roger and their children, 7-year-old Meghan, 5-year-old Payton and 2-year-old Logan.
“I have a much more flexible schedule now. I used to rush to get the kids where they needed to be in the morning, and then rush to get to the office to cram in as much work as I could before I left and rushed to get the kids home,” Toshia says. “Now I can answer emails at 10 p.m., if I want to. I love having the flexibility of when I work.”
With the i9 Sports children’s franchise opportunity, area developers have the chance to make a living running a youth sports league, while being closer to home and improving their communities. Learn how you can start your own youth sports league with i9 Sports.