Founder of the Sports Management Mastermind for young athletes
and parents to learn how to build their careers in competitive sports
‘It is important to be more than just a winning athlete. Having interests and passions outside of your sport make you relateable to more people so do not be afraid to share this. It is a part of your personal brand; what you want to be known for and how you want to be perceived.’
Let us start off with an easy question. How do you get sponsored?
There are many factors that play in to getting sponsored. Your athletic talent, potential, marketability, your attitude, to your social media following and results. If you are looking to solicit a sponsorship, I suggest you create an athlete pitch deck (check out canva.com). Include both lifestyle images and action images, your current results and media coverage, your social media handles, and number of followers. Include any links to videos of yourself participating in your sport as well, whether that is on your social media or on YouTube. Write a bio and tell the sponsor about your accomplishments, goals, and other interests outside of your sport. And let them know why you want to be sponsored by them, do your homework on the brand, people on their team and let them know the products of theirs you love using. Your social media is a living breathing pitch deck for you, so use it to showcase your talent, achievements, and interests. Grab the attention of the desired sponsor by creating a post on social media using their products and tagging them, demonstrate that you are really into their brand. The other aspect is to network at events and go introduce yourself to team managers and coaches, make sure they know who you are!
It seems to me that talent on its own is no longer good enough. You need to have a story with it. Do you agree?
It is important to be more than just a winning athlete. Having interests and passions outside of your sport make you relateable to more people so do not be afraid to share this. It is a part of your personal brand; what you want to be known for and how you want to be perceived. Also, a strong work ethic, being a humble and good person, and being proactive in how you can promote your sponsors and give back to your communities only benefit you in sports and in life.
What about the ones that do not have a story? John Doe from across the street for example. What advise would you give to him?
Even John Doe has interests! It could be hanging with his family, video games, animal, school, whatever. Share what you are passionate about, of course as long as it is PG (remember sponsors look at social media). I do believe if you are shy or introverted it is important to learn communication skills and get more comfortable talking with people. This is a huge part of being a sponsored athlete, so learning how to engage with people is a great skillset to hone.
‘This is a huge part of being a sponsored athlete, so learning how to engage with people is a great skillset to hone.’
What advise would you give to parents of a talented 8 year old skateboarder?
The advice I give to every parent of young athletes is to make sure your child is happy, healthy, and living a balanced life with sport, school, friends and being exposed to other interests outside of their respective sports. Being a competitive athlete can be a long journey so helping your child develop athletically, emotionally, and have the time and space to discover what THEY love to do and want to do is so important to be successful. The last thing a parent should do is create an environment or relationship with their child where they equate winning or doing well with receiving their parents love and attention. Provide opportunities for your child to cultivate their talent as an athlete, whether that be camps, coaches, competitions, but also be sure to check in to make sure they are having fun doing this. Keeping the fun in it is imperative to your child not getting burnt out. As you develop as an athlete the pressure only increases so keeping it light for as long as you can is not a bad game plan.
What advise would you give to the 8 year old?
Fun, fun, fun and more fun. This time should be about exploration, curiosity, trying new things, BEING A KID. Don’t worry about being the next big thing, just have fun being yourself and enjoying whatever sport you want to play.
What advise would you give to a 16 year old?
The advice I would give to a 16-year-old athlete pursuing competitive sports is to have an open mind when it comes to learning. Be curious about how you can grow as an athlete, improve your skills, and understand how you can turn challenges and setbacks into positives. Your attitude and mindset is everything as is your work ethic. Fall in love with learning and get comfortable with asking for help and feedback. Also, balance your athletic pursuits with other passions and interests as well, make time for friends, having fun, and experiencing different things outside of sports. Be aware of what contributes positively to your life and is helping you achieve your dreams and potential and what activities and people detract from that. High school years can be challenging with peer pressure and the feeling that you need to fit in, it takes a strong sense of self and a clear head to say no to negative influences and surround yourself with people and experiences that will help you grow into an incredible individual and athlete. And be kind to yourself in the process, you are growing and evolving every day, you don’t have to have everything figured out, be patient, work hard, and love yourself.
‘To that I say RELAX.’
What are the common mistakes you experienced for both the parents and the kids?
Your family should be your safe and unconditional loving place. The last place where you should get pressure to perform is from your parents. I have seen it ALL. Parents who want to be the coach, the agent, the manager, or who go around telling everyone their kid is the next so-and-so. To that I say RELAX. As a parent your role is to be supportive, help them cultivate their passions, and provide unconditional love to them. Make sure the dream of getting sponsored or becoming a pro athlete is actually your child’s dream and not just your dream. The other part of the parent/child-athlete relationship is when a minor starts to earn money through sponsorship and prize money. It is imperative that the parents are responsible with these earnings, speak with an accountant, and help the child learn about financial literacy. I have seen many parents not do the right thing by their children when it comes to finances leaving the child wondering what happened to all of the money they earned. Depending on where you live in the world there are laws that should be followed as it pertains to earnings for children under the age of 18. And lastly it is important that the child athlete is the one developing the relationships with the team managers and marketing directors. Sometimes parents get overzealous and take over communication when the child should actually be the one cultivating the relationship. Encourage your child to check in with their sponsors, have them be the ones emailing and calling and asking what they can do to support the brand. Remember the brand is sponsoring the athlete, not the parent.
What are some of the common downsides of making it to the top and how an you prepare yourself for it?
Do not have your self-worth be solely defined by your outcomes and achievements in sports. This is why it is so important to have great friends, good relationships with your family, other interests and passions outside of your sport. Learning how to implement boundaries and prioritize your time because as you succeed you will be pulled in many different directions due to sponsor obligations, competitions, training etc. You need to be able to prioritize your health, both mental and physical, allow time and space to continue to cultivate your talent, and enjoy your life too. The other aspect is that you need to think 5 steps ahead for when your career will be over and what your exit strategy will be, what other career skills do you want to develop so you can transition from being a pro athlete into another career. Whether that is studying, getting a degree, doing an internship, being an entrepreneur, you need to start figuring this out before your contracts expire.
Last question: If you could interview one person, who would it be and why? What would you ask?
Probably my grandfather as he passed away before I was born, and I would love to have known him.