Opening Day sets the tone for the whole season, and it pumps up everyone from the tiniest soccer player to the most experienced franchisee.
Brandon Seeley has been an Area Developer for i9 Sports for two years now, with his own i9 Sports franchise location in the Boca Raton/Delray Beach/Boynton Beach region in Florida. But his history with the youth sports franchise actually goes much deeper: As a kid, he was part of an i9 Sports league. Brandon talked recently about why Opening Day is so awesome for franchisees and kids alike, and the magic that happens just a few weeks afterward.
How long have you been with i9 Sports?
I actually played with i9 Sports when I was about 10 years old, in Coral Springs. And later, I needed community service hours in my freshman year in high school, so I volunteered to become an assistant coach with my old football coach at the time. And then I just loved how it felt to be able to coach kids and still be out on the field doing something I loved and getting hours for it.
So the owner at the time pulled me aside and asked me if I wanted a job when I was of age. So I became a referee and started working with him as a youth sports instructor as well, basically managing the on-field stuff, going to storage for him in the mornings, and did that for, gosh, until basically I bought the company in Boca. So I’ve been with i9 Sports forever; since I was a kid until 2017 when I bought a franchise.
What made you become a franchisee?
I enjoyed what i9 Sports stood for and how it made a difference in a kid’s life, and I decided to go into it full-time.
That’s fantastic. So tell me about your most recent Opening Day.
In preparation for Opening Day, you’re in this grind for 30 or 35 days to get your season up and running — you’re making schedules, building rosters and ordering jerseys. Then on Opening Day, you make sure everything goes smoothly at your field by setting up your banner flags and lining your soccer fields, football fields and baseball fields so you are ready to put on a fantastic experience.
Once you get everything in order, you get to see the expression on the kids’ faces when they’re playing, and they’re excited and happy.
Is everyone’s Opening Day the same?
Our Opening Day might be a little different than everyone else’s. We do a meeting on Opening Day when everyone arrives. It’s like a big pep rally, where we’ll pass out our flyers and brochures and do an introduction to i9 Sports.
We do a huge intro about i9 Sports and why we enjoy it; we talk about the i9 Sports principles, our pledge, and we go into detail about our upcoming seasons and our social media channels.
What I love is that we have all of our coaches and staff on the basketball court when the parents are in the bleachers and we do a team call-up. We’ll say, “The coach for Peewee All-Stars is Jake.” And then we’ll have a roster and we’ll have his binder ready. Jake will then come down to the court and call his players up like a pep rally. It’s fun for the kids, and the parents are then able to meet their child’s coach prior to heading out to the field.
How long is a season?
For us it’s seven weeks, for all of our sports. This season, I’m offering basketball, volleyball, football, soccer and baseball.
Is there anything else that you think a prospective buyer should know about Opening Day and what it’s like?
I got lucky because I grew up in i9 Sports, which is different from other youth sports franchises. I was able to see around 80 Opening Days, which a lot of people don’t get to see. There were a ton of different ways that it got put on, so I took a few things I learned from them and then I added my own little techniques.
I recommend making sure you hire enough people so you are stacked for Opening Day. There are always things that come up where some staff may call out, so it’s great to be over-prepared. Things can get hectic, and it’s nice to have those extra hands to help out on the busiest day of the season.
Once Opening Day happens and you’re on the other side and able to see how it all works on the field, there is no feeling like it. Just seeing those kids having fun out there after all your hard work to prepare, and seeing the parents’ reactions to it — there’s nothing like it.
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