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Developing the Sponsorship Pitch (One Size Does Not Fit All) When it comes to developing effective sponsorship pitches, one size does not fit all. Too often clubs develop a single sponsorship deck that outlines a menu of sponsor assets they have available and a cost for each. They customize one or two pages to the specific target they are sending it to and hope for the best. This approach almost always fails. Another misconception clubs often make is sending out sponsorship proposals unsolicited with no prior contact with the company representative they are trying to sell. Having worked on both sides of the desk in the sponsorship industry for many years, I can say I almost never responded to unsolicited sponsorship pitches. The moral of the story here is that you have to do your homework in order to be successful and here are some key tips: • • •

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Develop a list of potential partnership targets that you know spend marketing dollars in the youth sports category. Research the names and contact information of decision makers controlling marketing budgets that support youth sports. Via phone and e-mail ask if you can meet to present a “skinny” deck to your contact that has “some strong ideas for a partnership” you think they would like to see. Most prospects will ask you to e-mail the deck before they agree to an in-person meeting or call to discuss specifics. Develop your deck with that specific company in mind. Ask yourself why would they want to spend money with my club? If they have partnerships with other youth sports organizations nationally, regionally or locally, how do they activate? Identify your prospect’s key demo targets. Are they selling to teens, pre-teens, parents or all of these? Lead your sponsorship deck with a story of your club and all that you do to support the key demo targets that you have identified are important to your prospect. Identify a few “thought starters” that will engage the prospect and make him/her want to explore working with your club and developing a partnership. NEVER PUT PRICING IN YOUR FIRST EXPLORATORY DECK WITH A PROSPECT COMPANY. When your prospect shows interest, set up a call to discuss some of the ideas you have presented and ask what else they may want to explore to make a potential partnership work for both parties. A follow-up presentation should then be created that includes as many of the ideas/asks that came out of the phone call or meeting. Pricing can now be discussed depending on the prospects level of interest.

The bottom line is that if you are looking to close on a sponsorship agreement with a company that could spend significant dollars with you (and not your local pizzeria), you have to do your homework. Significant youth sponsorship agreements often take as much as six months to a year to develop. Next issue we will explore sponsorship activation and the importance of delivering on what you have promised. Phil Summers is the Executive Director of VYSA and an Adjunct Lecturer in the College of Business at the University of Mary Washington where he teaches courses in Sports Management and Advertising. Prior to VYSA, Phil held senior marketing positions at the National Football League, Sirius Satellite Radio and MSG Varsity.

CLUB SPOTLIGHT: STAFFORD SOCCER For Stafford Soccer, Partnerships are key The ink is just drying on the newest partnership for Stafford Soccer. Although the club and Stafford Hospital have been in cahoots for the last two years, it was finally made official. As part of this ever expanding partnership the Healthful Athlete series will continue. This third installment of the series will focus on great feet and a healthy heart. This seminar will focus on how to keep the athletes feet in tip top shape and be able to identify small problems that may impede development. The second half will focus on heart health. Typically the young athlete does not focus on this aspect because only “old” people have heart issues. Our heart doc will give these athletes easy ways to make sure their heart is always in top condition! In March, Stafford Soccer and Gwyneth’s Gift Foundation will partner to bring Hands Only Training to all of our valuable volunteer coaches. Parents and players may not be aware that Stafford County has made a concerted effort, with the help of the Foundation to have AED’s placed at all Stafford County Parks to bring immediate assistance to any person suffering from cardiac arrest. The training will focus on two things, compressions and AED’s use to deliver lifesaving assistance in those critical first few moments. It only takes minutes…just four to six. Six minutes deprived of oxygen can mean the difference between life and death - or the difference between recovery and permanently impaired brain function. This is why we are proud to partner with Gwyneth’s Gift Foundation Inc. who educate the community on how to respond in the event of a sudden cardiac incident. They have trained almost 500 people in mass Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) sessions since inception in 2015. In working with the Foundation, we are hoping to be the first Recreation league to have at least 90% of our volunteer coaches trained in this lifesaving event. A first time partnership will happen this summer when Stafford Soccer partners with Stafford Junction to provide a pathway to healthy living for the participants of the Stafford Summer Strikers camp. Stafford Junction’s mission is to help low income children fulfill their maximum potential and positively impact local kids. Directors of Development Nick Foglesong and Fernando Ramos will work with both the Stafford Sheriff’s and Fire and Rescue departments to provide an active week of soccer skills, drills and comradery.

Stafford Soccer has been an affiliate partner club of D.C. United for a number of years. Excitement is building around the new Audi Stadium and to help spread the excitement, D.C. United will be holding a fan event in Stafford on February 10. Fans attending the event will have the opportunity to take a virtual tour of the new Audi Stadium with the assistance of VR googles. Use the VRs to check out the view of the field from any seat, then talk with a ticketing rep to find out about season tickets or single game tickets. The event will be held at Adventure Brewing North, 33 Perchwood Drive on February 10 at 3pm. About Stafford Soccer - Stafford Soccer offers three levels of play for U5 - U19 players from Stafford County and the surrounding area Recreation, Academy and Travel soccer along with Adult Coed and Men’s Recreation League are available in the Spring and in the Fall. During the off season, Stafford Soccer provides camps and off season training and indoor soccer to select groups. Stafford Soccer, aspires to be an outstanding educational-athletic organization that provides a high-quality experience for every athlete. A high-quality experience is one in which every athlete: - Is coached using the principals of Positive Coaching -Has fun playing the game -Feels like an important part of the team regardless of performance -Learns “life lessons” that have value beyond the playing field and learns the skills, tactics and strategies of the game and improves as a player.

DO I HAVE TO PLAY SOCCER ALL THE TIME? By: Gordon Miller VYSA Technical Director In the past, we have discussed the fact that playing soccer 24 hours a day, seven days a week does not automatically equate into the making of a high-level player. However, it seems now more than ever, that more leagues are cropping up, more camps are promoted, more organized training sessions are being instituted and more supplemental training programs (speed work, core conditioning, yoga, etc.) are being offered. Painting the picture that your child better get on this all-consuming soccer only juggernaut or they just might get left behind. Specialize now or forget ever making it! However, there are still countless examples of professional athletes who played different sports growing up and still attained all pro status in their respective sports. If we scratch the surface a little, they are right in front of our face; Steph Curry had time for golf, Sidney Crosby played baseball, and Derek Jeter played basketball in high school. Closer to home, Kirk Cousins played basketball and baseball in high school. Ryan Zimmerman played basketball, Alex Ovechkin played soccer and Elena Delle Donne, who played volleyball at the University of Delaware, before returning to the basketball team on the way to the Washington Mystics of the WNBA. Not too long ago, children could squeeze in playing different sports and still satisfy that coach’s particular demands. Now, and soccer isn’t the only sport, the coaches seem to be demanding that the player commits only to them and to the sport at an earlier and earlier age. Is this healthy? Let’s take a look at some data: First, here are five research excerpts that demonstrate how early specialization may negatively affect your child: 1 Children who specialize in a single sport account for 50% of overuse injuries in young athletes according to pediatric orthopedic specialists. Growing bodies can become overstressed by repetition and that stress can lead to injuries. A lack of rest and recovery time in year-round sports exacerbates the problem. There are plenty of examples of serious, grown-up sports injuries happening to kids at younger and younger ages, from Tommy John surgery for 12-year-olds to high school girls with

multiple ACL injuries before they graduate. Studies show that playing multiple sports leads to better muscle, motor and skill development. It promotes general athleticism, balance, speed and agility. In a study of 1200 youth athletes, Dr Neeru Jayanthi of Loyola University found that early specialization in a single sport is one of the strongest predictors of injury. Athletes in the study who specialized were 70% to 93% more likely to be injured than children who played multiple sports! 2 A study by Ohio State University found that children who specialized early in a single sport led to higher rates of adult physical inactivity. Those who commit to one sport at a young age are often the first to quit, and suffer a lifetime of consequences. Children who specialize early are at a far greater risk for burnout due to stress, decreased motivation and lack of enjoyment. Kids who spend so much time focusing on one sport -- and whose families are similarly solely focused -- risk tiring of the sport all together. Specializing raises expectations, the costs for parents for travel and club teams and the pressure on young athletes. Having a variety of experiences keeps things interesting, the monotony of a single sport goes away, and so does that pressure. 3 Early sport specialization in female adolescents is associated with increased risk of anterior knee pain disorders including PFP, Osgood Schlatter and Sinding LarsenJohansson compared to multi-sport athletes, and may lead to higher rates of future ACL tears (added May 2014). If that is not enough for you, here are six research based reasons for multi-sport participation: 1 Better Overall Skills and Ability: Research shows that early participation in multiple sports leads to better overall motor and athletic development, increased ability to transfer sports skills other sports and increased motivation. 2 More Creative Players: Multi-sport participation at the youngest ages produces better decision making and pattern recognition, as well as increased creativity. When players have to process situations regarding different angles and scenarios of multiple sports, it can’t help but add to a player’s development. 3 Most College Athletes Come From a Multi-Sport Background: A 2013 American Medical Society for Sports Medicine survey found that 88% of college athletes surveyed participated in more than one sport as a child. 4 10,000 Hours is not a Rule: In his survey of the scientific literature regarding sport

specific practice in The Sports Gene, author David Epstein finds that most elite competitors require far less than 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. Specifically, studies have shown that basketball (4000), field hockey (4000) and wrestling (6000) all require far less than 10,000 hours. Even Anders Ericsson, the researcher credited with discovering the 10,000 hour rule, says the misrepresentation of his work, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers, ignores many of the elements that go into high-performance (genetics, coaching, opportunity, luck) and focuses on only one, deliberate practice. That, he says, is wrong. 5 Free Play Equals More Play: Early specialization ignores the importance of deliberate play/free play. Research has found that activities which are intrinsically motivating, maximize fun and provide enjoyment are incredibly important. These are termed deliberate play (as opposed to deliberate practice, which are activities motivated by the goal of performance enhancement and not enjoyment). Deliberate play increases motor skills, emotional ability, and creativity. Children allowed deliberate play also tend spend more time engaged in a sport than athletes in structured training with a coach. 6 There are Many Paths to Mastery: A 2003 study on professional ice hockey players found that while most pros had spent 10,000 hours or more involved in sports prior to age 20, only 3000 of those hours were involved in hockey specific deliberate practice (and only 450 of those hours were prior to age 12). 7 Exposure to different kids. Soccer friends will be different from swimming friends, who will be different from the kids in your Karate class. Exposing kids to different sports allows them to share teammate experiences and make memories with a diverse group of peers. It helps them expand their social circle and their opportunities for interaction. 8 Exposure to different roles. Being a bench player on the basketball team is a different experience than being a starting striker on the soccer team. It's an opportunity to broaden their experiences. It's an opportunity to become a better competitor and all-around athlete, the kind that coaches value. 9 Not putting all your eggs in one basket. Playing only one sport limits your options. A bad experience with a coach, an injury or a limited role on a more competitive team can bring an abrupt end to an athletic career. Such a small number of high school athletes move on to play a sport in college; even fewer earn an athletic scholarship. While even fewer still make a living from it. Continue to expose your kids to different sports and activities. Continue to encourage them to participate. The end result will surely be better.

FACILITY SPOTLIGHT: Publix Virginia Soccer Training Center Kickwall David Coffey, VYSA Manager of Operations In today’s growing sport environment, creating a competitive advantage should be the goal of every sport organization that wants to remain relevant. However, the real challenge isn’t always being different from others in the industry, but rather it is carrying the advantage into the future. At VYSA, our goal is to continue our competitive advantage through innovative projects and to put a fresh spin on industry trends. We chose to build a kick wall at the Publix Virginia Soccer Training Center to develop players’ technical skills as well as create a social hub for players to interact. The idea for the kick wall was born when we continually noticed players using our fence to bounce balls off before practice. We knew there had be a better approach. We wanted a solution that would give players the chance to train at a high level but also create social opportunities. Players have the ability to build team camaraderie and even meet new friends by playing skill-building games using the kick wall. A goal of this project was to give players the freedom to play and practice how they desire, instead of the typical grind of weekday practices and weekend tournaments. Coaches have noticed a growing trend of players not developing technique and creativity with the ball. We believe this stems from playing in too many tournaments and having too many structured practices. To combat this, we want the youth to play freely and without structure to develop creativity and promote self-confidence. The kick wall offers unique training opportunities for players to build technical skills and will ultimately develop a

better product on the field. During tournaments, the kick wall is extra popular because it allows kids who were brought to watch their siblings a chance to play freely, build their skills, and to have fun. In order to sustain these advantages, we cannot be satisfied with our progress and will continue to innovate through future projects. Future facility projects include two 4x4 mini pitches, a sand pit for goalie training, and a jogging trail around the facility. My next “Facility Spotlight� will take a deep dive into the 4x4 mini pitches and the benefits they bring to our training center.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 7, 2017 CONTACT: Kerry Diederich, 714-334-6647

Women and Girls in Soccer (WAGS) to Host and Sponsor a "WAGS D License Instructional Weekend for Female Coaches"

Alexandria, Va (December 7, 2017) Women and Girls in Soccer (WAGS) announced today it will host and sponsor a “D” License Instructional weekend for female coaches only February 9th, 10th and 11th, 2018. The Course will be held at Edison High School in Alexandria, VA and will be conducted by Karen Kelser, a VYSA Coaching Education Instructor. Karen’s full bio can be found here. WAGS as host and sponsor will reimburse costs associated with the course to include travel and registration fee for female coaches in attendance. Reimbursement will occur Sunday at the conclusion of the instruction. For questions relating to the reimbursement please email CLICK HERE TO REGISTER! About WAGS WAGS is a 501 C (3) charitable organization established in Virginia in 2017. Its mission is to provide opportunities to sponsor, develop, or provide educational and character building programs for the benefit of girls and women through teaching and promoting an interest in the game of soccer. The six unique programs it supports, just for girls and women, promote confidence, strength, character and leadership in a variety of ways, and include awards recognition, coach and referee certification, college scholarships, and worldwide outreach. WAGS is on the web at


The official e-newsletter of the Virginia Youth Soccer Association.