Our first Coach of the Day is Alyssa Gagliardi. Alyssa is the Director of Women’s Student-Athlete Advancement with the Carolina Junior Hurricanes Girls program. Previously, Alyssa was a USA National team player, a co-captain at Cornell University and she won the Isobel Cup with the Boston Pride. Check out Alyssa’s Champs App profile.
Anna can often be heard saying, “my goal is just to continue to get better.” She has played boys hockey for years and also played intermittently with girls above her own age level, with the hope of pushing herself. Anna is extremely poised and maintains great composure on and off the ice.
Last week, I started to explore new teams for my 14-year old son to play on next season. He has played AA hockey the last four seasons, but is ready to play AAA. At the same time, as a family we are considering moving to a new city so both our kids are playing hockey in the same area (my daughter just committed to play at a hockey academy this fall). So I looked at MyHockeyRankings to see which AAA teams were nearby and found a highly rated team.
I then visited the team’s website and found the name and email of the coach for my son’s age group. I immediately cold-emailed the coach, asking if there might be spots open on the team next year. I included a link to my son’s Champs App profile which included his personal and athletic profile. And most importantly, I had 5 videos included on the page. One 2.5 minute video of his hockey highlights from the past season and 4 recent playoff games from LiveBarn which were edited down to just his shifts (so, about 16 minutes each).
I was lucky that the coach was very responsive. Later that day the coach emailed me back and said he would take a look. A couple of days later, we scheduled a phone call.
What happened next surprised me a little bit…
To start the call, I joked with the coach that he must be getting hundreds of inquiries from parents saying their kid is the next Connor McDavid and they want their player to try out for his team. He then shared that, yes indeed, he was getting many tryout requests, but none of the parents were sending him all the information and video about their kid like I did. He had even forwarded the profile link to a couple of other coaches to get their opinion. The coach had no idea that I helped build Champs App, but what mattered was that he had all the information he needed (similar to a resume for a job interview) to invite my son to come tryout.
While all the profile information was helpful in getting the coach up-to-speed, it was the videos that were critical to him seeing my son’s level of play. There was enough in the video for him to recognize my son’s strengths as a hockey player and overall skills were at least in the same ballpark as the current players on the team.
Needless to say, the coach just made my day. Not only was my son going to tryout but it was great to see how effective his Champs App profile was in helping him and could help others.
Create your Champs App Profile
We did a lot of research asking college coaches what they wanted to see in a player’s profile for Champs App and now we are seeing it pay off. Now we are starting to spread the word – so feel free to create a Champs App Profile for your player here and share the app with coaches and teammates.
Jersey is a 2006 Goalie who plays for the U16 Girls AAA Alaska All-Stars. She is a hard working hybrid goalie with very good athleticism. Jersey plays angles well and never gives up on a play. She has great vision and quick hands. Create your own free, beautiful hockey player profile here.
Hi! I’m Ray and I’m a hockey dad. In addition, I am a below average hockey player with an above average love of the game. Both my kids play youth hockey here in northern California. This hockey season, if there is one, my kids will be playing U14, with my daughter being a 2006 birth year and my son is a 2007. I have no expectations for where hockey will take my kids other than I know that hockey will help them develop life skills they can take anywhere.
Crazy Hockey Parent?
At the same time, like any somewhat-crazy hockey parent, over the past few years I have tried to give my kids every opportunity to be the best they can be when it comes to hockey. This includes waking up at well-before the break of dawn multiple times a week to take them to practices and private lessons at our local rink (which is almost 20 miles away) plus travelling 300+ miles each way for regular season games in SoCal.
My daughter has only played on boys teams so far during her hockey experiences, last season playing on a slightly above-average Bantam AA team. So, we think she is probably an above average 2006 girl player, but we don’t really know how she compares. This spring we had planned for her to attend several girls recruiting showcases and go through the USA Hockey Selects process. The expectation was we could really get a good feel for where she was in her development and hopefully receive feedback from college recruiters/coaches on how she compares to her peer group.
From Quarantine to Champs App
Well, we all know what happened in March 2020 as hockey and the world shut down due to the Corona virus. With all the showcases, tournaments and USA hockey camps cancelled, that’s when I took it upon myself to help kickstart the recruiting process for my daughter. I assumed building an online profile page for my daughter which included key information plus highlight videos would be a start. So I decided to try to build my own website using a popular website builder.
After several days of manipulating a web template that was created for a completely different audience, I was able to get it to look pretty good. However, I couldn’t imagine other hockey parents trying to do this on their own. I then looked at other sites that are in the “college athlete recruiting” business and while they did offer the ability to create basic profiles, they seemed more concerned with upselling you on advisory services. I asked myself why isn’t there a simple “LinkedIn”-like app for the women’s hockey community? In addition, there must be thousands of parents out there just like me trying to figure out how they can help their kids on their athletic journey.
Time to Build
Having done several startups I wanted to see if someone else thought this was a viable idea. I contacted my friend John Lorance who is a technical genius and someone I have partnered with off-and-on for almost 15 years. Turns out he had been thinking about a similar type of platform for a completely different audience, but with many of the same characteristics. He liked the idea of building such an engine and using youth athletics as the perfect use case.
This is how the idea for Champs was born. The Champs mission is to help youth athletes be the best they can be. Specifically, assisting them to meet their goals in both academics and athletics.
We are planning to take a slightly different approach on how to navigate these challenges and get to the next level, whether it is their next team, next level, prep school, juniors, college or pros. By focusing on creating a lifelong sports network and community, athletes can both promote themselves and find resources/opportunities via the Champs App.
Drop the Puck!
Given my personal passion, Champs will focus first on hockey and specifically Women’s Ice Hockey. The cliché I’ve heard frequently is how hockey is a small community and everyone knows everyone, so Champs will be a good test. As we grow, we hope our community pulls us into adjacent sports, especially since we know many hockey players are multi-sport athletes.
So welcome to Champs! I am sure there will be ups and downs along the way as we figure this out. Hopefully you can be part of the journey as we all try to enable youth athletes to strive to achieve our mission.
P.S. Here is a screenshot of the web page I designed back in February that spawned the creation of Champs. When the app launches, I will update this post with a link to her profile on Champs