Ex-Journalist Finds New Mission with i9 Sports Franchise

Ex-Journalist Finds New Mission with i9 Sports Franchise

i9 Sports franchise review: Gene Gentrup pays it forward

Gene and Patty Gentrup have been i9 Sports® owners in Kansas City, Missouri, since 2016. Before starting their i9 Sports business, Gene had been looking to do something different. He was working in an industry that was downsizing, and he decided to look for something he was passionate about. When Patty found i9 Sports online, they found their next step. 

Gene, what were you doing before you opened an i9 Sports business? 
I’m a former newspaper reporter and wire editor. I started in Nebraska, which is where I’m from. I also worked for niche magazines. For example, I wrote for a diving magazine and another for restaurants. 

My work was a big reason that I started i9 Sports. I was worried that I would lose my job. The paper where I worked folded, and I moved to the magazine side. Then the monthly magazine became every other month. 

I wanted to control my own destiny.

Finding the way forward

How did you find out about i9 Sports? 
I wanted to pursue something I’m passionate about. Patty looked online and Googled it. 

My daughters had just finished their high school sports careers, and Patty and I missed being around youth sports. When we learned about i9 Sports, we did a lot of research. We read what was available on the i9 Sports website and did our due diligence. Our first season was in spring 2016. 

Is your wife part of the business?
Yes, she processes payroll. I run the day-to-day business. Our daughters, Megan and Abbie, have helped at the field when needed. They’re grown and live in the Kansas City area.

We also have a full-time program director in addition to part-time employees.

The business model

How many venues do you have? 
It depends on the season. In the spring season, we have seven venues. When we started our i9 Sports business, we held games on Sundays because we couldn’t find available venues on Saturdays. 

We played in the afternoon to avoid church conflicts. We did really well so we kept doing it. We go from noon to 6 on Sundays. 

What do you like about the business model? 
I haven’t ever been involved in a franchise before and had heard bad things about the fees. But I’ve been really, really pleased.

So much of running a business is learning as you go. Everyone at the Home Office is responsive and supportive. They have a lot of resources, but you don’t have to follow the guidance to the letter.

I like the level of resources and communication. We just hired a new program director, and she’s going to the Home Office for training.

i9 Sports franchise review

What do you think it takes to succeed in this business? 
Pour your heart into it. Understand that you’ll make mistakes. Never think that you know everything. 

Your peers at i9 Sports are a great resource. There’s an exchange of ideas that are extremely beneficial. Everyone appreciates each other. The greater success of your peers, the more success you have. The more experienced franchisees are happy to help. 

I served on the i9 Sports Franchise Advisory Council. You have a view of things that you don’t have when you’re not on the council, and I encourage everyone to serve.

What are your goals for the business? 
I’d like to hit the $1 million mark

I’m 60, and I’ll probably keep the business for another five years. I really like what I do, but Patty wants me home on the weekends. For the most part, I’m already doing that. 

I believe in the mission. We saw what sports did for our daughters. Why wouldn’t we want to pay that forward?

Find out more

i9 Sports is the first and largest youth sports league business in the U.S. Our franchise owners offer youth sports leagues for boys and girls ages 3 to 14 in today’s most popular sports: flag football, soccer, basketball, baseball, volleyball, lacrosse, and tennis.

If you’ve enjoyed this i9 Sports franchise review, learn more about our youth sports leagues and business model, download our free ebook.

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