ProMentor Improves the Youth Sports Experience
Being a kid is hard, especially for youth athletes who deal with injuries, burn out, school and practice. What if there was a platform where coaches, players and parents could collaborate and connect with one another to create a better youth sports experience for everyone involved?
ProMentor was founded in 2020 as an application platform where amateur players and coaches at every level can receive video analysis, instruction, and motivation from a coach or professional athlete through an immersive and intuitive app.
After a year of market validation over Zoom, ProMentor’s founders built a mentorship platform that gave amateur athletes access to nearly 200 pro-athlete mentors, elite training, and analysis. They built up early buzz in soccer, ice hockey, and baseball. Then, this year, ProMentor took a unique opportunity to acquire TopYa!, a Denver-based youth sports video development platform with virtual coaching for young athletes around the world.
“This was a synergistic opportunity for two technology companies to add one and one to get three,” said Cory Nadler, ProMentor’s senior director, and former general manager of TopYa!. “We brought on more than 100 soccer and lacrosse clubs during COVID. We were developing the next phase of our strategy when ProMentor hit the app store.”
ProMentor brings technology and vetted pros together to give kids in sports what they need.
ProMentor provides individuals, club- or school-based teams, and events easy access to more than 170 pro athletes in baseball, hockey, and soccer. The mentoring plans are affordable and address everything from player development and mental strengthening to lessons on recruitment and retention of athletes and professional and college placement support. ProMentor matches youth athletes with mentors who are a skillset match, depending on the school or club athlete’s level of play.
“The pro athletes on our platform that I have spoken to feel fortunate to make a career out of sports,” Nadler said. “They were just like the millions of kids who get up on Saturday morning and dream about playing in a pro stadium. As a pro athlete, they have access to experts, from coaches in hand/eye coordination to dieticians—anything you can imagine, plus decades of knowledge from the hard work they put in to get where they are. A lot of them have a desire to give back. They want to connect with kids.”
ProMentor sessions are live one-on-one, as a team, or in a group setting. Instant video presents performance analysis and zeros in on areas for improvement, with tips. Athletes end the lesson with a plan from a pro athlete who has been in the same situation.
And then, as so often happens in young companies, especially those that have gone through a pandemic and acquisition, a different way to leverage the combined assets of both businesses to meet market needs appeared. “The customers saw the vision before the company,” said Nadler.
Coaches seek training and support to serve more young people more effectively.
Youth interest and participation in team sports have been on the decline over the last ten-plus years. A report by the Aspen Institute shows that the pandemic may have accelerated the decline.
“Our customers told us that while they appreciated the training perspective, what they really needed was more help for their coaches,” Nadler said. “We don’t have enough coaches, they told us, and the ones we do have don’t have the training they need.”
An overwhelming amount of information is available for coaches, but no single solution exists for executing a current, ongoing professional development program that includes gathering and distributing best practices within a school or sports organization while tracking engagement and measuring improvement of key mental and physical wellness indicators from student- athletes and coaches.
ProMentor’s business-to-business solution serves coaches in school-based and community-driven athletics organizations, entities that are beginning to see levels of funding from recovery funds and foundations for coach education.
A customer of the former TopYa!, STRIVE Prep immediately locked into coach education. “STRIVE Prep, a community of public charter schools in Denver, CO, is founded on the belief that every child deserves a high-quality education where they live. STRIVE Prep was founded about 15 years ago with a complete focus on academics. Schools are in some of the most challenged areas of Denver, which have a high school to a college graduation rate that exceeds 90 percent.
“They loved the idea of connecting middle and high school coaches with current and former pro and college coaches,” Nadler said, “ and have partnered with ProMentor to leverage the ProMentor platform and mobile app to build out a future-focused Coach Professional Development program across the entire 10-school Athletic and Activities Department, including athletic coaches and afterschool program staff.
“Partnering with ProMentor will enable us to implement a world-class professional development program for our athletic and activities department coaches and staff that actually helps them become better coaches, teachers, and mentors for our students,” said Caleb Coats, STRIVE Prep Schools Athletic and Activities Director.
“Making sure our student-athletes have fun and stay active in a safe environment is our number one goal, but there is so much more to our athletic program than being good at a sport,” he said. “Using ProMentor will reinforce the critically important soft skills that are the difference between being a coach who knows and understands their sport and being a coach who kids are excited to play for. ”