November 1st, 2021
I was asked to write something about our 5th Year Anniversary and I have no idea from where to begin so here goes…
At first I wanted to talk about the success of the Family Business we created and the revolutionary methods we continue to apply into the difficult market of Youth Sports. We have endured all the challenges of being in this industry without being a non-profit organization. We have proven the ability to break through paradigms instilled in older clubs, and traditional so call “standards” that we changed, shocking the market and raising the bar across the board. This, as time has progressed, making the “old clubs” and “teams” look at us in a different light, which ultimately makes the youth soccer market better by duplicating our methods or just raising the bar altogether with us. Regardless of how you look at it I know the impact we had, and will continue to have, on this ever changing field.
But the truth is that the success of the business is not what really touches my heart and emotions or the first thing that comes to my mind when someone asks me about Nona Soccer Academy.
So, there I was stuck again in front of my computer. Then I wanted to talk about the success that our young Student Athletes are having on and off the fields, the trophies we brought into Lake Nona, representing our brand and our community all over the State (starting this year some great results out of state). Then I remembered myself, what we teach our coaches; winning is a consequence of a job well done. Our true legacy is not the amount of trophies we bring into Lake Nona.
Next I wanted to portray about all the difficulties we had since November 2016 which involves practice locations, bad fields, many hurdles and challenges, that as much as I want to showcase, it is no different than anyone else starting a new business. This is especially true for a business that touches the emotions of their clients. In our case we hold a huge responsibility to teach the children much more than the game, all the attributes of playing team sports, and become a great member of our community.
There have been some bold moves, some scary ones, some emotional games, some new friends, unfortunately some new enemies (which is part of it). But, with the humility of trying to learn within every step to continue to do things right, and learn from our mistakes, or even sometimes having no idea of what was going to happen, and even then, face my team and my community and show them all the confidence in the world and move on. Also, all irrelevant if you are an entrepreneur trying to create a business that is different than others.
So then I stopped. I closed my eyes and focused for a couple minutes and asked myself, what are the 3 things that comes to your mind when you think of this project? And this is what I came up with:
- My Family. They are the support system I have at home and everyone involved is amazing. My wife and my 3 boys represent the brand in the highest possible manner, understanding the impact we are making in our market and most importantly on our community. First to my boys, these guys had no idea what they were getting themselves into it. They have had to become leaders at a very young age, had to watch their attitudes, had to control their emotions and fight for their spot on the field, not because they were my sons, but because they were good on their task. This difficult challenge is being performed by all 3 of them daily and will continue to until they grow out of the programs. Then the “Real Boss”, my wife, who’s given up her profession to make my dream a reality. Within our “internal” ups and downs, she is still able to perform at the highest possible level as a Mom, Wife and Business Owner. As much as sometimes I see that it is not her forte, she is willing to learn, to lead and to fight for what she believes is the best product to be delivered to another family, our clients! For all of it, I think the last five years made me a better person not only for the business side, but for the ability to be building something special around my family, and have them proud of it beside me!
- My Team. I have always known that I would not be able to do it alone. Very early on I knew that I would have to find people NOT to follow me, but those who bought into the vision and understood what had to be done to create a legacy. I didn’t care about their resume. I didn’t care about their previous experience. What I wanted was to be able to look them in the eyes and believe that in my absence they would treat the business as their own. Some I thought were these types of people and they weren’t. It hurts! Some I knew right away that they weren’t the fit. Five years later I can say that I am no longer needed. My team owns the business and they are capable of running it, growing it and making it better. They challenge me, they teach me, they breath the Brand…Everyone with their own special talents, everyone in their own special ways! We have fun, we worry, we celebrate together, and I know I will take all the credit one day, yet the only credit I want is my ability to find the best possible people to run my business and my ability to build a team! All the rest is all of THEM!
- Our Legacy. I learned this from my Father a long time ago that if you are going to do something be the absolute best at it and it doesn’t matter what it is. Later in life I heard the same thing from other successful coaches, teachers and entrepreneurs, but I will still give the credit to my old man. I know my responsibility in my market segment and I know the impact I have on it, as well as on the future of my community, once we have the large majority of the youth coming to us 20-25 days per month. So my work is on how we are going to be remembered, how much fun was it to be part of the “NONA” Family, and to hear from someone who’s in college that the best part of their hometown experience was their time with NONA Soccer. Who knows? Maybe we can even be able to employ some of these young leaders who one day will be coming back home and look for a job in sports, event management or business administration. That is my real legacy and I live by it daily!
So to write about the first five years, there are a lot of scars, and way too many joyful moments. It is hard to put into words what it has been, knowing that we are just about to start. More time will just be another way to continue this amazing story, like a good book that you can’t wait for the next version, or that series that keeps you up all night! That’s all. Some of the chapters are emotional, some are challenging, but the book tells a beautiful story of a large group of children in an amazing community!
Happy Anniversary Nona Soccer Academy! Thank you to all of you involved on this project from my family, to my team, to the families who trusts the process, and most importantly to this beautiful community that is the most important part of our success.