Ever wonder if creating a women’s soccer program in Kansas City was a bad idea?
It all started in Indianapolis two weeks ago. Three of our staff members [and a short moment with Dur] headed to the NSCAA National Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. I stayed back in Kansas City to work on business [and I was also told 'owners' have nothing to do there]. Upon their return, I got an earful about the ladies from Legacy Football Club, and also about the crew from the Boston Breakers. Two programs that over the past year we have developed very strong ties with. I was also informed about how many people at this convention [trust me, it is huge] knew about the Kansas City Shock. A positive from the marketing standpoint of our program.
That was the normal part.
So, Dur comes into Starbucks after her adventure to Indy and asks me if I knew someone named Amber Gwinn. Well, this immediately sparks interest because I do know an Amber Gwinn. Amber was the assistant coach at Southwest Baptist while I was working in the athletic department. Between her and the head coach [now Survivor celebrity] Ben Wade, I learned a ton about women’s soccer. It turns out that Dur met her in Indianapolis. Additionally, it turns out that Amber coaches in Reno, it also turns out that Amber is in direct contact with Jenn and Vanessa of Legacy; also based out of the Reno/Sparks area. Needless to say, the women who easily intimidated me in college [I think I spoke to Wade more then I did her of all the time I was there...out of fear] has connected digitally on Facebook and Twitter, and I just chuckle at the connection of how that comes about. Weird stuff, right? While all of that was going on, our director of merchandise was chasing down Puma at the convention [compliments of Legacy, who run all of their gear through Puma]. Well, in Kansas City currently Sporting Kansas City runs through Adidas, FC Kansas City runs through Nike, and guess what? Yes, even though it was never the initial plan, it looks like we’re going with Puma. Puma is looking at getting into the Kansas City market [a soccer hot spot] and they carry the color orange that we’ve grown to love. Factor in Boston Breakers also running Puma prior to joining the new league that’s been formed, and the stage was already set for a fascinating introduction for Puma with us. Of course I can’t steal Jamie’s [director of merchandise] thunder, so that’s all I can say on that topic. Though very cool.
It gets better.
The following weekend myself and Darco headed out to Las Vegas for the Women’s Premier Soccer League conference. First of all, Las Vegas is a terrible, nasty city. I couldn’t handle that thing for more then a few hours at a time. Regardless, I spent all Saturday in a conference room listening to the league president chat. Afterwards he took us to the standard Las Vegas buffet [my stomach is still recovering], and we sat and talked. By the time I was preparing to leave, he makes mention of Weber Creative Arts. Yes, our beloved Weber Creative Arts in Kansas City that kills our graphic design stuff on a daily basis. He wants to know if they’d be interested in doing design work for the league office. I’m serious! I told him that I connect the two groups, but while I was walking out I was simply thinking, “Remember when that married couple [who I went to college with, who knew K8 that put us together, who also knew Amber Grwinn at the same time] started working on our designs, and filed for their own company?” Needless to say, I was thrilled to send that e-mail to them when I returned to the hotel.
BUT IT GETS BETTER!
The next day, Darco and I took a brief 6.5 hour trip through…well…nothing from Las Vegas to Reno/Sparks. Why? Simple. Jenn and Vanessa live in Sparks, and earlier that week I had received a message from Vanessa saying that there was going to be a dinner waiting for us when we arrived. When you’re hopping airports and cars, a home cooked meal you take every time. We arrived in Sparks right around 4:00 PM and headed over to the house of Paul and Jamie. When we arrived we found a house COVERED with girls who were ALL keepers [no wonder Jenn enjoys them so much] running around, eating food [it's a soccer girl problem], and creating chaos. It was awesome! The couple, Paul and Jamie greeted us and started chatting. What I hadn’t realized was that this was the same Paul that a few days earlier on Facebook stated on the Kansas City Shock Facebook page that we needed to stop at the Death Valley Candy and Nut Company. Darco and I had made a specific goal to stop there [THEY HAVE GUMMY, GREEN ARMY MEN!]. It was awesome knowing that the guy we went out to get that trip on video was standing in front of me [eye-to-eye, this family is so tall]. We talked shop, our program, Legacy, and family. That’s when the really cool stuff started to happen. Paul travels a lot, getting shoe companies to sell specific types of shoes from Germany and Austria [I hope I got that right]. He has a lot of business in Kansas City, and is a die hard Sporting fan. He also has done a little business in St. Joseph [remember, he lives in Sparks] at a store called Browns Shoes. This store just happens to be managed by my friend Tom, the same Tom that was with me in Guatemala and the same Tom that is an elder at MoVal. Paul brought up Tom’s name, and this is after I looked at Darco in the car and said, “I’ll give it ten minutes before Tom’s name comes up”…jokingly. I had no idea how serious that would be. The concept of Tom and Paul knowing each other from the business side [Tom's a bit fuzzy on it] is mind blowing, but when I told Paul that Tom and I were part of a group of missionaries in Guatemala this summer, he perks up, “Oh yeah, I’ve got some friends that are full time down there…” and starts rattling off all of these people they know in the mission field. That’s the same time Jenn pipes up and says, “Yeah, Shawn takes gear down to Guatemala for clinics.” “Really? We’ve got all sorts of stuff from cleats and stuff…” While all that was going on, the missionaries mentioned in the conversation [who I've forgotten names of...I'm sorry] triggered a conversation from back home. These names are known by the community that I live in as well [did I mention that this was going on in Nevada], as it turns out Jamie and Paul are actually from the Chicago area originally and were deeply involved in the area. Most notably for me was this:
Halfway across the United States I was in the presence of some seriously compassionate Christians.
While sitting down for dinner [and working on a very stout dark ale that I'm not overly familiar with] we discussed everything from youth soccer, travel, soccer, food, soccer, all the way to business; including questions about the Kansas City Shock, our business model, and the future of our program and Legacy FC. Somewhere within that conversation I brought up Pro Ebiria, a glove company for goal keepers. The Kansas City Shock’s very first sponsor back in July of last year, and we continue to do business with them to this day. They make the gloves for the keeper for Sporting Kansas City. Pro Ebiria just released a youth style glove [size and all] at their usual exceptional price, and the president of Legacy FC just happens to be a former keeper at the Univ. of Nevada [Jenn] and coaches goal keeper clinics and camps. Well, as you would imagine, because I love working with local businesses [see Weber] I pitched Pro Ebiria to Jenn. Now those two are in contact with one another; imagine if Pro Ebiria is selling youth gloves to a youth program out in Sparks, Nevada? Huge marketing potential, helps a local business, they’re amazing gloves, and hopefully assists a growing program out west.
After having my mind blown from that amazing few hours; Darco and I traveled back to Las Vegas that night [another 6.5 hours of two lanes and desert] and arrived in Las Vegas at 5:30 AM [we got to airport by 8:00 AM to depart, a miracle in itself].
At this point, if you’ve kept up with the whole process, you’re probably pretty entertained. Don’t worry though; there’s so much more…
The following days were a whirlwind, including a literal meeting every single day [I was off from Subway for the week]. Tuesday was very stressful, and a rather disheartening meeting over a very, very important aspect of the Kansas City Shock. However, while leaving in the pouring rain our head coach contacts me, tells me a magazine is doing an interview with her; Dos Munos, a bilingual Spanish/English piece that is distributed through Kansas City. For us, that’s a huge deal; we have made it a professional and personal goal to get a stronger access into the Hispanic community of Kansas City. This was a massive step in the right direction. I definitely didn’t realize what kind of first step that was.
The rest of the information is monumental huge, but for fear of press leaks I can’t be too descriptive…for now.
I was contacted by another team of a different women’s soccer league a few days ago, I think Wednesday, they’re curious on what kind of work Weber Creative Arts can do. Alright, now this is where I start to freak out. I mean, the league office has already contacted Weber Creative and this other team from an entirely different league is contacting me about them as well. I mean, realistically, that’s how you grow a business. To see something like that take off; on the personal level it is huge, but on the business side with the program that helped kick start Weber; it’s unspeakable. I hope that as time progresses I’ll have more information about that to share. Additionally, since the first meeting this week fell through, I got a tip for another meeting set up by our general manager this morning. I had no idea how big of a meeting it would be. I want to share this information with so, so badly and I hope I’ll be able to soon, but just trust me when I say it is monumental. Factor that in with an amazing meeting yesterday with the owner of a company called The Soccer Lot; he has built a mobile platform for 5v5 soccer that can be played in an area the size of a basketball court. What happens if we install those outside of our home games? What happens if they open up in Sparks, Nevada? Boston, Massachusetts? Of course, I’m completely speculating, but the possibilities to assist another growing business in Kansas City is never ending!
Did I mention that I had a meeting inside Kansas City City Hall this week? No? That happened to. I was able to speak with the adviser of Mayor Sly James for about an hour on the Kansas City Shock; strictly looking for recognition and nothing else. First, I couldn’t believe that they responded to my inquiry. Second, I couldn’t believe I had a meeting at City Hall [across the street from one of my Subway's]. Finally, I was meeting with the right hand man to the mayor of Kansas City; people that is no small position! We talked start up businesses, technology, growth, and economic development. In a very scary sense; I felt right at home. What will that meeting translate into? I have no idea, but something will come up; it’s sure to.
I want to take this point to make three clear points:
- Thank you for taking the time to read this extensive piece of information
- All of this took place in the matter of just under two weeks
- YOU CANNOT DENY THAT THERE IS SOMEONE A LOT BIGGER THEN ME, THE STAFF, OUR PROGRAM, OUR CITY THAT IS DOING SOMETHING ABSOLUTELY AMAZING THINGS!
I’m living a dream, and from this site, by now we all should know that my credit goes directly to God for taking care of me and never ceasing to blow me away.