Why we started Champs
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