Because Sharon Trahey has five adult children, she’s been to many children’s sporting events in her day. And she’s seen some nasty things.
“Kids were cussed at by coaches; I saw many arguments. I’ve even seen parents get arrested right at the field,” Trahey said.
That all changed when she witnessed an i9 Sports game for the first time. She was delighted by the atmosphere. All the kids were smiling, and it looked like a very positive environment on the field and on the sidelines. Trahey said the experience was quite refreshing. She and her husband, Bruce, had gone to the game to observe the operation because they were considering investing in an i9 Sports franchise.
“My exact words were: I could do this all day long,” Trahey said.
Considering restaurant franchises and athletic franchises
Trahey loves kids — that’s why she has five, she said — and so after a career in business-to-business sales, she looked for a family-style or children’s franchise opportunity.
“I have done a lot of entrepreneurial things — Mary Kay, things like that — because I had always wanted to own my own business,” she said. “We looked at other franchise opportunities like CiCi’s Pizza, Chuck E. Cheese, but nothing was ever a good fit. We were not impressed with their franchise systems.”
The couple’s son, Colton, was working for an i9 Sports franchise in another territory, when one day Bruce asked him what the company was all about. They learned about the sports business opportunity, observed that one game, and never looked back.
How to start a youth sports league with staying power
Trahey and Bruce purchased their i9 Sports territory in the Fort Worth, Texas, area in 2014. They offer flag football, soccer, baseball and basketball for boys and girls age 3 and older. Because their territory was already somewhat developed, they had a base of participants. But, thanks to the Traheys’ marketing efforts — enhanced by training and support from their i9 Sports Business Coach — the couple quickly boosted their participation numbers from 305 to nearly 800 this season.
“We’ve had a lot of positive word-of-mouth, plus we’ve put up a lot of road signs and big marquee signs where businesses will let us,” Trahey said. “Another thing that’s been great for us is connecting with our local schools with digital flyers. I can send them a flyer, and it will be blasted out to every parent in the school.”
Trahey leads the business operations, while Bruce continues to work a full-time job. Colton left his former i9 Sports position to work full-time in the family business as program director, a franchise that now supports 12 part-time staff members. But Trahey’s network doesn’t stop there, she said.
“The i9 Sports corporate office is so supportive, they almost feel like an extended family. I’ll send an email with questions, and it’s answered in a few hours,” she said. “We talk about i9 Sports to friends of ours who have other franchises, and they say i9 Sports is very unique in the support they provide.”
What’s up next for their sports business opportunity
Because the Traheys’ territory is so large, she said they don’t have a desire or need to purchase a second territory. They are, however, adding another venue to serve White Settlement, Texas, a city that recently lost its government funding for youth athletic programs. Fearing a void, city officials asked Trahey to bring i9 Sports to their city.
“They reached out to us after seeing our road signs and talking to people who’ve had great experiences with us,” she said. “We’re starting to grow more quickly. We’re at the point where one of the next steps is adding a dedicated marketing person.”
Another step for the Traheys that’s a few years down the road is for Bruce to leave his corporate executive job to join the business full time. Trahey can’t wait, and said they “have a blast working together.”
For those considering how to start a youth sports league, Trahey recommends doing a lot of research.
“Make sure you realize it’s not just about playing sports, but about running a business,” she said. “Get the perspective of current owners to understand what it’s like in the real world. It’s a full-time business.”
Thinking of leaving the corporate world to start your own business? Consider a kids fitness franchise with i9 Sports. We offer sports business opportunities throughout the country for individuals with a passion for sports, and the drive to operate their own business. Call us at 877-262-5730 or download our free report, “How to Make a Living in Youth Sports.”