From Hills to Mountains, Matt Sanders Chose a New Adventure
Matt Sanders’ route to owning an i9 Sports® business is about embracing new opportunities. Matt is a pilot, and when the pandemic started, he was concerned about his airline career. With the COVID shutdowns, there was a chance that he could be furloughed.
With his job less busy than normal, he spent his free time looking at other opportunities.
Matt, shown with his family above, is a former history teacher and coach for basketball and football. He also used to volunteer as court-appointed special advocate for children in foster care. That’s how he met his wife Jennifer, who worked for the CASA organization at the time. i9 Sports was a natural choice for them.
Making a move
Matt lived in Austin, Texas, close to Texas Hill Country, and there were no available i9 Sports territories near him. He looked around the country for places that interested him. He and Jennifer have family south of Seattle, an area they have visited over the years.
“The area was underserved sportswise,” he says. “I found a couple of communities that were growing rapidly. People were pouring out of the city in Seattle during the pandemic, and they were moving to the suburbs.”
Matt and his family moved, and he became an i9 Sports owner for Pierce and King counties. This decision opened a way for him to pursue his passions for youth sports and community involvement.
Rookie of the Year
In 2022, Matt was named i9 Sports’ Rookie of the Year. Matt’s focus on delivering a great experience and creating a welcoming atmosphere has resonated with the families in his community.
Asked about his success, Matt says, “You have to deliver. If you don’t, people won’t come back. The goal is to make people feel welcome.”
The support he received from i9 Sports has been instrumental. i9 Sports provides a robust support system including a dedicated business coach as well as a network of experienced owners. Calls with his coach and the sharing of knowledge in the network helped Matt navigate the challenges of starting a business.
Matt’s involvement with i9 Sports goes beyond business. As an i9 Sports owner, his commitment to community service is balanced with the flexibility to work from home, allowing him to spend more time with his family.
Matt says his wife Jennifer helps a lot with the i9 Sports business, but stays behind the scenes. Their three daughters, Layla, 13; Mayleigh, 10; and Josie, 5, get to see their parents involved in work that is both fulfilling and impactful.
The two older girls sometimes help on the field by picking up equipment. Matt says that his middle daughter Mayleigh likes to help check in coaches and direct traffic.
Matt is a mentor for the young people on his staff. He says that for many of them, their jobs at i9 Sports are empowering, with the time spent on the field building their confidence and teaching them how to interact with others.
“I really enjoy working with our staff. We have a lot of fun. It’s an aspect of it that I’ve come to love,” says.
Matt says he likes the scalability of the i9 Sports business model. With the right staff around you, he says, you can carry out your vision. In fact, Matt just hired his first full-time program director.
His story highlights the transformative power of embracing change and making an impact in your community.
Become an i9 Sports owner
If you’re interested in youth sports and community involvement, i9 Sports may be a great fit for you. We offer youth sports leagues for kids from 3 to 14 in today’s most popular sports. Learn more by reading our free ebook.