Former teacher and coach finds fulfilling career with youth sports franchise
A love of sports and coaching kids sent i9 Sports franchise owner Brian Watkins into the field of education. Brian says he became a teacher primarily so he could coach. After 10 years in the science classroom, though, Brian ran into his old high school basketball teammate and i9 Sports franchise owner, Chris Novak, at a basketball reunion.
That’s when Chris introduced Brian to i9 Sports. After researching the opportunity and following Chris’ business for a couple of years, Brian saw that i9 Sports aligned perfectly with his goals and passions.
Brian opened his i9 Sports franchise in the fall of 2011 on Chicago’s north side. Brian talked about the rewards of owning his business and what it takes to have a successful i9 Sports franchise.
What do you like best about being an i9 Sports franchise owner?
The work-life balance and flexible work schedule are great for me right now. I have a young family: a daughter and twins two years apart. It’s been helpful that I can be there for doctor’s appointments and pre-school drop-off. Being available really helps the family.
What attributes should a successful i9 Sports franchise owner have?
The most successful i9 Sports franchise owners will have a commitment to the business, a keen attention to detail and will believe in the product. They are go-getters — people who seek opportunities for growth and improvement.
What are the greatest rewards of owning an i9 Sports franchise?
The best part is going out on the field that first Saturday morning, getting everything set up and then seeing all the cars pull into the parking lot. The kids then rush out of the cars; they’re so excited to play! Their parents will tell me they slept in their cleats.
Opening day is incredibly gratifying. When you consider all the work that led up to the season — all the months of organizing details — and then you stand there and see the day unfold. It’s nice to experience the outcome of your hard work. Smiling families are a wonderful reward.
I love meeting all of the families who are raising their kids in the city. Some of these kids started with us at the beginning. It’s been truly exciting to watch them grow through the years.
What makes i9 Sports franchise different from your competitors?
We stand out because of all the benefits from the franchise model and the team aspect that characterizes i9 Sports. I now realize that there’s no way I could run this business without the support of the home office in Tampa and the technology that they create and maintain. Really, I chuckle when I see competitors spring up, trying to do it on their own without the support of a franchise model; it’s no competition at all.
What’s in your future with i9 Sports?
The goal right now is to maximize my current franchise. We want everyone to know what i9 Sports is, and when they are looking for a youth program, we want i9 Sports to be the first thing they think about. We want everyone to understand how good our programs are.
Last year, I purchased another territory in Chicago’s northern suburbs with i9 Sports franchise owner Roger Dequina. That franchise is still relatively small for the possibilities that are up there, so we’re excited to grow that one, too.
What has i9 Sports meant to you?
It’s really allowed me to do something I’m passionate about. I love being my own boss and having a flexible schedule. i9 Sports has empowered me to do what I love while giving back to my community.
What would you tell someone who is looking at purchasing an i9 Sports franchise?
I’d be honest with them. Running this business requires a lot of work, time and energy. It is a commitment, but if you follow the systems and believe in the product, an i9 Sports franchise can be a rewarding career.
Learn more about i9 Sports franchise
The nation’s first and largest youth sports league franchise, i9 Sports hit an all-time high in network revenue last year — for the 12th year in a row — and now we are expanding our domestic youth sports programs and planning growth across the globe. We are looking for entrepreneurs to join the i9 Sports family as franchisees.
With the mission to help kids succeed in life through sports, and our proven franchise business system, i9 Sports is reinventing the youth sports experience for millions of American kids and their families. We also offer entrepreneurs the chance to find meaning in their careers and enjoy the benefits of successful business ownership.
Want to learn more about becoming an i9 Sports franchise owner? Download our free report to start a conversation with us about opening an i9 Sports franchise!