NetWorks Sports Small Business Profile: Athletes Chef

The NetWorks Sports Small Business Profile is a brief vignette that provides a closer look at companies founded by individuals who have been involved in the sports industry at some point in their career.  These business owners will share their journey as an entrepreneur as well as insight for those of you interested in starting your own venture.

NetWorks Small Business Profile on Athletes Chef LLC and its founder, Kyle Coleman

Kyle Coleman - CEO & Executive Chef, Athletes Chef LLC

Name: Kyle Coleman

Title: CEO & Executive Chef

Company Name: Athletes Chef, LLC

Company Website:



When did you start your company and what was your inspiration for starting it?
I started Athletes Chef in 2011. My inspiration for starting my business was to reach out to youth athletes in urban areas and their parents and introduce healthy yet affordable meal options that promote wellness and meal options that optimize sport performance.

What’s your Elevator Pitch?
Athletes Chef specializes in prepared meals for ahletes and those with dietary concerns. We provide healthy food demostrations to youth athletes, their parents, schools, organizations and adults with dietary concerns.

What is your company’s Mission Statement?
To promote healthy nutrition education to youth, collegiate, professional athletes, fitness enthusiast, weekend warriors and everyday Americans through cooking demonstrations with various organic products and hormone free meats, presentations and social media.

What is your favorite part of owning your own business?
I enjoy being able to make healthy food exciting and delectable to achieve the dietary goals required. I simply enjoy being a chef and being involved with sports at the same time.

Tell us about your career before you became your own boss.
At a very young age, I became intrigued with food while laying on the kitchen floor watching my mother prepare meals, and assisting my father with barbecuing in the backyard. As I grew older, I developed a passion for food as I experimented in the kitchen baking cookies and cakes and preparing meals. Because of this passion, I took an educational leave of absence from Ford Motor Company, and enrolled in Schoolcraft College’s Culinary Arts Program.

I graduated from Schoolcraft College in April, 2005 with an Associates Degree in Culinary Arts with honors. I was a student assistant in the Culinary Arts Program and worked as a private chef for several families, and also catered private parties when not taking classes. I was part of a development team at Schoolcraft College, which worked with new oven technology and conducted testing for Subway. With the TurboChef Schoolcraft College partnership, I studied and taught oven programming, development of cook cycles, and product development.

After graduation, I became a full-time employee of TurboChef Technologies as a Corporate Chef. During my tenure with TurboChef, I was the company’s representative to Starbucks, Sara Lee, and Tyson to name a few, where I developed opportunities and supported numerous customers that remain with TurboChef to this very day. I also led the efforts to expand the customer base into U.S. Military Bases as they became familiar with TurboChef ovens and what this technology could do for them.

Later I served as a contract employee to Concerto Foods as Corporate Executive Chef where I developed 19 menu items and developed food service items for Hyatt Hotels and Tim Horton’s. I later was employed by Smoky Market Foods, and during this tenure I served as Corporate Executive Chef and Director of Foodservice Operations. I oversaw the building of the company’s pilot restaurant, authored the standard operating procedures, and developed training platforms among many other tasks.

After leaving corporate America, I decided it was time to refocus my career and combine my passions and joys which are food, sports, healthy nutrition and children. To ensure the highest nutritional meals for my clients I have become a Certified Fitness Chef, Certified Sports Nutrition Specialist and Certified in Kid’s Nutrition Specialist so I can assist them in performing at optimal levels on a daily basis. Additionally, I’m also involved with First Lady Michelle Obama’s child obesity initiative- Chef’s Move to Schools.

Were you previously involved in the sports industry?  If so, what capacity?
I played high school football.

What was your goal when starting the company?  Has that changed?  What is your long-term vision for your company?
My goal is to educate athletes on the meal options they have to help them meet their preformance goals.

What is it like running your own company?  Give us a “day in the life.”
I can’t put into words how rewarding it has been to go in the urban community and educate the youth on healthy food options and provide affordable meal options to the parents as well.

What are the greatest challenges of owning your own business?
The biggest challenge of owning your own business is owning the process of successfully marketing your own business and and growing the business.

What has been the biggest surprise you’ve had in being an entrepreneur/business owner?
The biggest surprise in being a business owner for me has been all the formal procedures required to proceed forth.

What are the greatest rewards of entrepreneurship & business ownership?
The greatest reward of being a business owner is follwing your dreams and passions and being compensated at the same time.

Is there a mentor (or mentors) that has helped you along the way?
I don’t have a mentor at this time. I am relying on a lot of research combined with a passion for the business.

Please share any advice for readers who are considering starting their own business.
I cannot stress enough to others considering their own business to do a lot of research and if you cannot find the answer seek someone that can lead you in the right direction.

Favorite Book: Mind Gym

Favorite Movie: The Blind Side

Hobbies: Attending various sporting events

What’s playing on your iPod: Various artists

Mac or PC: Mac

Favorite TV Show: Any Food Network shows

Favorite Restaurant: Too many to name

Favorite Quote: “Nothing fails you but a try”


For more information on Kyle & Athletes Chef, log on to

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NetWorks Sports Future Leader: Chris Chaney, Founder of Ivy Sports Symposium

NetWorks is committed to supporting young professionals looking to get their foot in the door in the sports industry.  Our team has received an extraordinary amount of support throughout our careers and are truly impressed with the generation of young leaders who are ready to help take the sports industry to all new heights.  If you know of any individuals like this, please let us know about them.  If you are in a position to hire or recommend these NetWorks Future Leaders, please contact us and we will put you in touch with them.  They are our future!

Today’s NetWorks Sports Future Leader is Chris Chaney


Chris Chaney - President & CEO of Chaney Sportainment Group

“I was introduced to Chris Chaney nearly 8 years ago by Jamie Zaninovich (currently the Commissioner of the West Coast Conference) and have been impressed by Chris’ drive, vision, knowledge, and work ethic ever since.  Chris is the consummate entrepreneur, someone who is innovative & willing to see his vision through from start to finish.  Over the years, through his leadership, he has created a number of very successful initiatives and has demonstrated why he will be an invaluable addition to lead any team to accomplishing its objectives in an effective & efficient manner.  His future is very bright.  Ten years from now, I won’t be surprised to see his name listed among the leaders in the sports industry!”

~ Angela Taylor, President & CEO of NetWorks Sports Consulting


Name: Chris Chaney
College(s): Princeton University
Degree(s):Bachelor of Arts, Sociology
Resume Available: Yes, upon request (send email request)

Tell us a little about your background.
I am originally from Germany and decided to come to the USA after high school to follow my dreams. I have been extremely fortunate to meet some outstanding people, friends, mentors and colleagues, in college and over the years since.

What type of work experience have you had?

I really started my career in college through internships, many self-starter projects and ultimately launching the Ivy Sports Symposium (formerly Princeton Sports Symposium). My first job after college was with the NBA in Global Marketing Partnerships servicing clients such as Coca-Cola, Haier and Nike, and I have been an entrepreneur ever since.

What type of job(s) are you seeking?
I’m interested in leveraging my extensive global network as well as sports and entrepreneurial experience for an outstanding and cutting-edge organization within the sports and entertainment industry. After a few exciting years in the entrepreneurial world, I am ready for the next step in my career.

What is your greatest strength?
I’m a DOER as well as an excellent relationship builder and high-level strategic thinker.

Tell us about a project that you completed successfully.

The project I have enjoyed working on the most and which has given me the personal satisfaction of helping others is the Ivy Sports Symposium.

It all started in 2006 when I was sitting in the office of one of the staff of the Princeton athletics department discussing the annual street basketball tournament I was organizing, and we somehow came across the topic of a sports business conference while in conversation. I immediately became fascinated with the idea of creating such an event on campus and decided to do it.

Five and a half years later, the Symposium is one of the global sports industry’s premier conferences. It has gained industry-wide recognition by featuring more than 180 unique speakers from around the world (literally as far as Dubai and China) representing all facets of the sports business, and welcoming student attendees from over 30 colleges and universities.

What experience (if any) do you have in the sports industry?

I’ve consulted for a variety of companies in the sports and entertainment industry on revenue enhancement and global expansion (e.g. lifestyle footwear company, mixed martial arts apparel company, Egyptian Premier League soccer club, worldwide obstacle racing series, postseason college basketball tournament, indoor American football league) as well as conceptualized a number of large-scale entertainment, basketball, golf and tennis event properties throughout the Middle East and the USA.

Why do you want to work in the sports industry?
The sports industry is a fascinating part of the business world that is an ubiquitous part of our daily lives. Sports has always been a passion but I am particularly intrigued by the competitiveness within the industry, the fact that it rubs shoulders with virtually all other industries as well as the unique and creative ideas and concepts that have come out of sports over the years.

Who has had the biggest influence on your life?
My mother.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Being a leader in the business world while also working towards positive change in our society. 

Anything else we should know about you?
Too many extracurricular leadership positions to list but I loved all of them. I was selected as young leader of the sports business by the industry think tank Partnership Activation in its inaugural Rising Stars class. I am inspired by Marcus Aurelius. 

For more information about Chris, read his bio.  To request a resume, please send an email to

Follow NetWorks Sports on Twitter at @NetWorks_Sports


NetWorks Sports Poll of the Week: Will Peyton Manning Play During the 2011 NFL Season?

NetWorks Sports Poll of the Week

Indianapolis Colts owner, Jim Irsay, was compelled to go to Twitter to clarify a comment in regards to Peyton Manning’s health & the expectation to return to the playing field he made at an Indianapolis speaking engagement.  On Monday, Irsay (an active & eccentric Twitter user) posted the following Tweet: “I didn’t say Peyton out 4season FOR SURE,keeping him on ActiveRoster n taking it month by month/Outside chance of return n December possible” (read the tweet here).

In what is becoming one of the top storylines from the current NFL, Peyton has yet to play a game and the Colts have yet to win a ballgame, although the Steelers were only able to pull out a last second victory on Sunday in Indianapolis.  With a serious neck injury keeping him on the sidelines, many are quite concerned about the Pro Bowl quarterback’s future.  Other quarterback who were in their prime, like Aikman & Theismann, saw their Hall of Fame careers ended prematurely due to serious injury as well.

Colts fans & NFL fans alike aren’t quite ready to have seen Peyton’s last game but with the uncertainty surrounding his health, do you expect to see Manning return to the field?

Take our NetWorks Sports Poll of the Week:

[polldaddy poll=5536202]

Follow us on Twitter at @NetWorks_Sports

NetWorks Sports Career Advice: Acing the Phone Interview

NetWorks Career Advice: How to Ace the Phone Interview

You just got word that you landed a job interview with a company that really interests you — only there’s a slight catch.  You won’t be meeting with your interviewer(s) face to face. Instead, you’ll be taking part in a phone interview, the results of which will determine whether you’re invited to meet with company representatives in person.

Many companies use phone interviews as an initial employment screening technique for a variety of reasons. Because they’re generally brief, phone interviews save companies time. They also serve as a more realistic screening alternative for cases in which companies are considering out-of-town (or out-of-state and foreign) candidates.

So the chances are pretty good that, at some point in your job hunt, you’ll be asked to participate in a 20- to 30-minute phone interview with either one person or several people on the other end of the line. In many ways, the way you prepare for a phone interview isn’t all that different from the way you’d get ready for a face-to-face interview — save for a few slight additions to and modifications of your list of preparation tasks.

Here’s what to do:

Treat the phone interview seriously, just as you would a face-to-face interview.
A phone interview seems so informal on the surface that it can be easy to fall into the trap of “phoning it in” — i.e., not preparing for it as well as you would for an in-person interview. Don’t get caught with your guard down. Be sure to research the company, study the job description, and practice your responses to anticipated questions, just as you would for any other interview.

Have your resume and cover letter in front of you.
You’ll almost certainly be asked about some of the information that appears on these documents. You might also want to have in front of you any supporting materials that relate to information in your resume and cover letter, like documents you’ve designed or written, a portfolio of your various projects, or the written position description from your key internship.

Make a cheat sheet.
Jot down a few notes about the most critical points you want to make with your interviewer(s).

  • Are there certain skills and experiences you want to emphasize?
  • Do you have certain interests or passions you want your interviewer(s) to know about and understand?
  • Be sure these pieces of information appear on your crib sheet. Then touch on them during the interview, even if your only chance to do so is at the end of the session when the interviewer asks you if you have any questions or anything to add.

Get a high-quality phone.
This isn’t the time to use a cell phone that cuts in and out, or a cheaply made phone that makes it difficult for you and your interviewer(s) to hear and understand each other.

Shower, groom and dress up (at least a little).
Odd advice? Perhaps. But focusing on your appearance, just as you would for a normal interview, will put you in the right frame of mind from a psychological standpoint. You won’t do as well in your phone interview if you’re lying in bed, for example, or if you’re draped over your couch in your pajamas.

Stand up, or at least sit up straight at a table or desk.
Again, there’s a psychological, frame of mind aspect to consider here. But on a more tangible level, research has shown that you project yourself better when you’re standing up, and you’ll feel more knowledgeable and confident.

Quick Tips:

  • Confirm the time of the phone call (i.e. possible difference in time zones).
  • Identify who will be calling whom.
  • Have appropriate phone numbers.
  • Try to determine all participating parties and the job titles of each.
  • Address any potential distractions in advance.
  • Interview in a quiet place.
  • Listen closely to the question before responding.
  • Do not hesitate to ask the interviewer to repeat the question or ask for clarification if you are unclear of what is being asked.
  • Do NOT answer incoming phone calls.
  • Do NOT eat or drink during the call.

Phone interviews can be tricky, especially since you aren’t able to read your interviewers’ nonverbal cues like facial expressions and body language during the session — a big difference from the typical interview. But if you prepare well for your phone interview, you won’t need to read anyone’s nonverbals to gauge your performance. You’ll know for sure how you’ve done because you’ll be invited to a face-to-face interview, where you’ll have yet another opportunity to prove you’re the best person for the job.

Good luck on your next phone interview.  A solid interaction during a phone interview is the first step to getting an offer for a formal interview.  Take your phone interviews seriously!

If you have any additional advice for how to handle phone interviews, please share with our readers by entering your thoughts in the comments section below.  We appreciate any additional advice for our readers.

To find out more career advice, follow us on Twitter @NetWorks_Sports

NetWorks Sports Small Business Profile – Knowetry Consulting (@Knowetry)

The NetWorks Sports Small Business Profile is a brief vignette that provides a closer look at companies founded by individuals who have been involved in the sports industry at some point in their career.  These business owners will share their journey as an entrepreneur as well as insight for those of you interested in starting your own venture.

NetWorks Small Business Profile on Knowetry Consulting and its founder, Stacy Parson

Name: Stacy Parson

Title: Principal

Company Name: Knowetry Consulting

Company Website:



When did you start your company and what was your inspiration for starting it?
I established Knowetry Consulting in October 2009. My inspiration to start my own business was to spend most of my days doing work that I love.

What’s your Elevator Pitch?
The “Pitch”: I want people to leave every encounter with me knowing more about themselves and how they fit into the world. “Know your story. Live your story.”

What I Do: I use an approach of “grounded innovation” — the action-orientation of a consultant with the reflective, discovery-based methods of a coach — to help my clients increase their personal and professional influence.

The Knowetry(TM) Consulting vision mapping process is at the heart of my coaching practice and helps people visually chart the course from “Now to What’s Next.” By doing this, my clients create a vision that provides inspiration and lays the foundation for the new ways of thinking, communicating, and behaving required for future success. This simple, creative and practical starting point sets the stage for a coaching experience characterized by innovative methods of achieving real-world results.

What is your company’s Mission Statement?
I support people in making the shift from being High Achievers to becoming Happy High Achievers.

What is your favorite part of owning your own business?
My favorite part of owning my own business is getting to focus most of my day on doing exactly what I love to do — Having conversations that help people clarify what their dreams are, and how they want to impact the world.

Tell us about your career before you became your own boss.
Prior to moving into my coaching and facilitation practice full time, I was the Director of Employee Development at Yahoo! Inc. The highlight of my time at Yahoo! was leading the design and implementation of the first organization-wide career development framework, which included a foundational workshop that has been very well received — in the last six months I’ve been to Singapore, Bangalore, Munich, and London to certify trainers, and it is being delivered globally in 15 countries. Yahoo! expects to have about 2,000 employees complete the workshop by the end of 2011. In 6 months, the workshop and related resources contributed to a 7% increase in career engagement, as measured through their employee engagement pulse survey.

Prior to that I was at Deloitte Consulting for 10 years – 5.5 years as a Change Leadership consultant, 3.5 years as an internal career coach, 1 year as the leader for Professional Development for the Consulting practice.

Before that, 3 or 4 roles that seemed random at the time, but contributed to the set of skills that prepared me for my roles at Deloitte.

Were you previously involved in the sports industry?  If so, what capacity?
Stanford Women’s Basketball (1986 – 1990); Graduate Assistant Coach, University of Washington Women’s Basketball (1990 – 1992); 10 years coaching 8 yr – 12 yr girls in Catholic Youth Organization (CYO), North Coast Express Basketball, and National Junior Basketball (NJB).

What was your goal when starting the company?  Has that changed?  What is your long-term vision for your company?
My original goal was to find work that I loved so that I would not spend the next 30 years doing something I was capable of, but only mildly interested in. I wanted to combine my strengths, interests and leadership capability in ways that made a real difference in people’s lives. When I wasn’t finding exactly what I wanted to do in a structure/role that I wanted in Corporate America, I began thinking about how and when I would establish my own practice. My target client base for coaching has always been professionals in high demand professions (consulting, high tech/Internet, legal, finance). Recently, I have deepened both my interest and experience in working with professionals who have immigrated from India, and who want support in navigating their careers within American corporations. My long term vision is to maintain a sole-proprietorship, however, I do want to continue to increase my impact by partnering with others, and creating solutions that can be scaled to reach a broader audience. In 2005, I set a goal to help create 5,000 Happy High Achievers, and thanks to the platform provided at Yahoo!, that goal is likely to be reached within the next 18 months. So, it’s time for me to recast my vision…

What is it like running your own company?  Give us a “day in the life.”
I’ve intentionally defined my area of focus so that I can spend most of my time doing things I love. On most days, I’m doing some combination of the following: 1) Developing Relationships and New Business — talking with people about what’s most important to them or their organizations and how I can help them (developing/enhancing relationships and new business). 2) Coaching and Facilitating — working with coaching clients to clarify their vision for impact, design a plan forward, help them overcome challenges, and provide accountability and support; or facilitating groups of 10 to 200 during career development, leadership development, and coaching skills workshops. 3) Design and Development of Solutions — thinking of creative ways to help people take action toward their personal and professional dreams and designing those solutions to use in my coaching and facilitation, 4) Deepening my Expertise — reading about and exploring what makes people tick and how we can support each other in realizing our full potential. 5) Improving my Leadership — thinking about what my strengths are and how I can build and use them to make a difference. 6) Operations — Oh, and I do spend a bit of time on the operations side – scheduling, client engagement and practice administration, budgeting and invoicing, and an occasional visit to the Apple Genius Bar.

What are the greatest challenges of owning your own business?
I’m a person who has a lot of interests and likes to explore possibilities, so my biggest challenge is to stay focused on my niche and to make choices about how to spend my time that are going to return the most value. I’m continually checking in to make sure I’m doing the work I really want to do, and not creeping into the areas of work that I “can” do but that will ultimately lead me out of my “sweet spot”.

What has been the biggest surprise you’ve had in being an entrepreneur/business owner?
I’m enjoying the business development aspect much more than I expected that I would.

What are the greatest rewards of entrepreneurship & business ownership?
For me, the greatest reward of owning my own business is when people share with me how our work together has helped them to fulfill their dreams of success and satisfaction – buying a new home, getting a promotion, designing the family and relationships they want, establishing a new business, overcoming a fear, becoming more at ease with themselves and the impact they are having in the world, clarifying and living their purpose.

Is there a mentor (or mentors) that has helped you along the way?
I have been SO blessed with many mentors and supporters at every stage of my life. My family makes sure I understand that when you have people who will love you no matter what, it gives you courage to take risks in the world. My youth basketball coaches (Rey Lopez and Donis Bailey) helped me understand that I had options, helped me dream and believe that I could achieve things that not very many other people do. My high school coach (Craig Raub) taught me how to acknowledge my capabilities with humility. My college coach (Tara VanDerveer) taught me how to have intention, conviction, and develop the capacity for success on a large platform. My mentors at Deloitte (Eileen Fernandes and Eileen Raney) always asked me to step further toward my edges, but would never let me fail. Vance Caesar (whom I’ve never met) coined the term “Happy High Achiever”, which I have shaped my work around. One of the founders of Co-Active Coaching (Laura Whitworth) taught me how to listen for the conversations that want to happen, “assess and not vote”, and to “ask for 100 percent of what I want 100 percent of the time”. Susan Burnett at Yahoo! teaches me how to create outcomes that live on even after you move on. And, Natalia Gabrea at Hiruko Center teaches me how to be courageous on a daily basis.

I am ALWAYS looking for people to help show me the way.

Please share any advice for readers who are considering starting their own business.
My advice to anyone considering starting their own business (especially a service business) is to: 1) know what your “secret sauce” is, and when and how it is valuable to others 2) be really clear about the solution you are providing, and for whom; 3) focus on being more “interested in” vs “interested to” the people you meet (from Good to Great by Jim Collins) 4) ALWAYS support and be generative with your network because they will sustain you

Favorite Book: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Favorite Movie: The Usual Suspects, but really liked the Adjustment Bureau too

Hobbies: Reading, listening to live music, wine tasting, creating playlists, discovering new bay area food spots

Favorite Place to Vacation: Right now…India

What’s playing on your iPod: Kinsmen by Rudresh Mahanthappa (and 26,000 other songs)

Android or iPhone: iPhone

Mac or PC: Mac and iPad

Favorite TV Show: Mad Men

Favorite Restaurant: A Cote in Oakland, CA

Favorite Quote: “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist


For more information on Stacy & Knowetry Consulting, log on to

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NetWorks Sports Spotlight Interview with Joby Branion – Co-Founder & Executive Director, Athletes First (@athletesfirst)

NetWorks Sports Spotlight Interview with….Joby Branion – Co-Founder & Executive Director, Athletes First
By Tracey Savell Reavis

Joby Branion, Co-Founder & Executive Director at Athletes First

For Joby Branion, the route from athlete to agent was about as predictable as going undefeated for an entire season in the NFL. Youth football in his hometown of Wareham, Mass., led to a scholarship to Duke University, where he played four years and earned All-ACC honors. But when the former Blue Devil defensive back got cut by the Washington Redskins, what followed was 10 years in a school administrator’s job, grad school and law school, and a stint as a corporate lawyer.

It wasn’t until 1996 when a friend of a friend informed Joby of an opportunity to work with Leigh Steinberg’s sports representation firm.  His perception of sports agents up to that point had been that they were enablers who told their clients whatever they thought they wanted to hear. Since that was not his makeup, Joby initially wanted no part. It took more than a little research before he decided to give it a try. It was a decision that would turn out to be a wise one.

Today, Joby is Co-Founder & Executive Director of Athletes First, a bicoastal sports representation agency that opened its doors in 2001.  As the agency’s name suggests, they focus on personalized service. For Joby, that means not only being there for clients, but being honest with them. Even if it’s not what they want to hear. In addition to big name NFL players like Mark Sanchez, Matt Hasselbeck and Ray Lewis, Athletes First reps baseball and basketball players and a number of coaches. Among the services Athletes First offers its clients are contract expertise, a pre-draft training program, PR, and negotiating marketing/endorsement deals. It’s this work that gives Joby the opportunity to do something he loves – sharing his life experiences so that he helps young men navigate life’s minefield of important decisions.

Post-draft, post-lockout and, finally, post-season kickoff, Joby spoke with us about some of the benefits of focusing less on a specific destination and instead on enjoying the journey.

Can you describe what the atmosphere was like at Athletes First during the 135-day NFL lockout?
The biggest difference from normal years was that there’s usually more communication with general managers and teams. And we didn’t have that during the lockout. And we take our relationship with our clients seriously. We keep them informed, give them the best advice. It was harder to do that during the lockout. So for us it was a challenge, a new landscape.

And when it was over?
A mad rush of deal making that had to be done in an extraordinarily condensed period of time. Free agency was a very intense time with so many contracts being signed when normally there’s plenty of time to prepare. It’s not back to normal yet.

Were there any priorities your agency set as soon as the lockout ended?
No, no priorities. All deals were just as important – free agents, veterans. Every individual client believes their situation takes priority – so we do also. We worked around the clock to get everything done.

Athletes First client Von Miller of the Denver Broncos

One of Athletes First clients is Von Miller [drafted second overall by the Denver Broncos]. Can you talk a little about him being named as a plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit filed against the NFL by the Player’s Association?


He was approached at first, informally, before the lawsuit was even filed. It came up, if I remember correctly, at a cocktail party, in the abstract. Then there were follow up discussions. We talked to him about what the plusses and minuses would be for him. We pointed out that a general manager might look at this as a negative. But at the end of the day, Von was excited to join the other players. He was doing it as a way to keep the lockout from happening or to stop it if it did happen. Not anti-NFL, but saying I’m “pro” playing.

In the end it showed him to be a thoughtful man, who can take a stance on something. It turned out a positive, a good move on his part.

What do you think of the new, 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement? Which side made out the best?
Well, in any negotiation there are trade offs. But I think both sides are happy. There is a long-term labor agreement in place now. And I think that says stability, and it adds to the value of the sport from a fans point of view. I’m glad it’s resolved.

Do you think the play in the league this season will ultimately be affected by the lockout?
It’s hard to say. There was some rumbling before about players not being able to participate in offseason training, that they’d be out of shape, at higher risk of injury. I don’t think we’ll really know until the end of the season.

What importance would you put on sports in your life, and the role it has played in shaping who you are?
Growing up it was difficult being around a stepmother and with no father. Football became like a surrogate father. It was my source of self worth and confidence. Football helped get me from childhood into adulthood. It is such an intense feeling playing football – the cheering, coming out onto the field, being with your teammates. There’s nothing in the real world like that. I tell people all the time, ‘You will always remember the last day you play’. I can still remember the last time I put on a football helmet. It took me several years to get that feeling out of my life. It was very hard to walk away from the game.

Can you talk about the career decisions you’ve made that eventually led to you to being a sports agent and doing something that you love?
Well I wanted to play pro football. Everybody wants to be a pro – in sports, in music. But that didn’t happen.  I got hired as the Director of Minority Admissions at Duke. I had a lot of interaction with faculty and staff and students. I got to travel. I got to grow and learn. Then I moved to the west coast to go to grad school at UCLA, and the experience was dramatically different. But the move improved my network. Each step I’ve made was an effective way to improve skills that I could always use in life. I think I got a much richer set of life experiences because of the choices I made.

What kind of skills do you think are important to have in order to be successful?
Expose yourself to things. Network. I harp on the importance of networking. But it’s not to be hyper-focused on a specific number of friends on Facebook. The quality of relationships is more important. And challenge yourself. Those are the cornerstones to happiness and success, and to waking up everyday feeling good about what you’re doing.

What lessons about work and life have you learned that you share with others?
I would encourage everyone to have as many diversified experiences as possible. I counsel young people all the time, don’t feel like you have to make a permanent decision about your career early on. If people ask you what you want to do, or what your plans are, it’s okay to say I’m not sure. Don’t feel like you’re a loser at 22 if you don’t know what you want. Just whatever you do, always look to make decisions that will increase your options.

Is there anything you haven’t done that you wish you had, or anything you would have done differently?
Yeah, there is – that I didn’t take as much advantage of the chance to study abroad.

And in some ways I wish I could have done Duke without being an athlete, just to see what that would have been like.

Joby Branion



Favorit Sport after Football: Lacrosse
On His Nightstand: The Help, by Kathryn Stockett
Hobbies: Whatever my three young sons happen to be into at the moment – today it is Call of Duty on PS3!
Favorite Musician: Prince
In His Music Library: Aside from his majesty Prince, everything from Lil Wayne and Adele to Stevie Wonder and David Sanborn
Favorite Movie: Pulp Fiction
Daily Newspaper: The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post
Favorite Quote: “If you can be bought, you can be sold!” ~ Anonymous

Follow Athletes First on Twitter @AthletesFirst and find out more about Joby, Athletes First, and their clients on the A1 website

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Let us know what you think of this NetWorks Sports Spotlight Interview with Athletes First Co-Founder & Executive Director Joby Branion, in the Comment section below!

NetWorks Sports: In Their Own Words with Michelle Yeager-Turner, Owner of charizYa Fitness

In Their Own Words profiles former student-athletes who have leveraged their experiences on the field, court, and in the pool to buoy their professional careers. They’ve had success in the classroom & in their sport, and now are enjoying tremendous success in various sectors around the world.

In Their Own Words with Michelle Yeager-Turner

Michelle Yeager-Turner, Owner of charizYa Fitness

After a successful experience as a cheerleader at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Michelle Yeager-Turner has taken her passion for fitness, competitive nature, diligent work ethic, and desire to help others to launch her own business in Louisville, KY.

The focus & commitment required to be a gymnast & fitness competitor have served as the foundation for Michelle’s business endeavors.

Fitness is in Michelle’s blood!  She grew up both a competitive gymnast and cheerleader and is currently a national level fitness competitor.  Her passion is helping others, especially getting them into shape.  She is a certified Zumba Instructor and Personal Trainer.  Find out more about what has lead to Michelle’s success in the business world and in competitive fitness.

What is your current title and how long have you been in this position?
I opened my own (primarily) women’s fitness studio in Louisville, KY twelve months ago. We specialize mainly in Zumba classes although we offer other strength and toning questions. It’s an amazing feeling to own my own studio and create a positive community of people that look forward to improving their lives. It’s been rewarding both to personally be able to reach and teach our clients but also to train other instructors to do the same.

What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of my job is looking in the mirror during our class and seeing a room full of diverse people both sweating and smiling. 

What was your first “REAL” job?
My first “real” job was teaching first grade. I was an elementary school teacher for seven years. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the youth, but also yearned to be my own boss. Being in the classroom with young children taught me patience, acceptance of everyone, discipline, humor and creativity.

Has being a competitive athlete helped you in your current role or during your career? If so, please tell us in what ways.
I believe that being part of a competitive team drives you to create a positive team atmosphere in your workplace. With my fitness clients, I want them to feel as if they are a part of a team and that we genuinely care about their development. We actually end each class in a team huddle and try to support each other both physically and personally.

What do you miss and what don’t you miss about being a competitive athlete?
I miss that surge of energy you get right before competing. I don’t miss the nutritional restrictions and lack of carbs.

What was your most memorable moment as an athlete? What was your most embarrassing moment?
I grew up a competitive gymnast which led to my cheerleading then professional dancer then competitive fitness competitor career. My most memorable moments were having my parents in the crowd (because they have both passed away). My most embarrassing moments were tumbling into the referees.

How often do you workout? What type of things do you do to stay active?
I workout five days a week. Having my own fitness studio…the opportunities are endless. I usually find myself making myself relax so that I have time for my body to recuperate.

Do you have a mentor (or mentors) who has helped you along the way?
I have looked up to many people along my path, including coaches along the way. Several of my high school coaches afforded me opportunities once I graduated college and helped me realize the benefit of leaving positive impressions on everyone I meet.

If you knew then what you know now, is there anything that you would do differently in your career?
I believe that everything in my life has happened for a reason and even the bad experiences have given me the insight to be successful in my current endeavors. I’m still growing as an entrepreneur and a business owner and hope to make connections to further my success.

Who has had the biggest influence on your life?
My mother, Dr. Lillian Yeager.

Do you have any advice for young professionals and/or former student-athletes hoping to have a successful career after sports?
Passion will only take you so far if you don’t have a successful business plan and the means to make it happen. Before you jump fully into a business venture seek a mentor (or 2) and learn both the benefits and struggles that you will encounter. There are some amazing opportunities out there – don’t be afraid try something different!

Favorite Book: The Bible

Favorite Movie: Love and Basketball

Hobbies: Spending time with my new husband, running website for urban professionals, volunteering

Favorite Place to Vacation: Punta Cana

What’s playing on your iPod? Luther Vandross

Android or iPhone? iPhone

Mac or PC? Both

Favorite TV Show: Grey’s Anatomy

Favorite Restaurant: Rivue

Favorite Quote: “The day you start living is the day your life begins.”


Find out more about Michelle and charizYa Fitness at her websites and or at Facebook!

To read more “In Their Own Words” on student-athletes doing great things after graduation, sign up for the NetWorks Sports “Changing the Game” Newsletter today!!

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NetWorks Sports Future Leaders: Patrick Henry (@CoachPatHenry)

NetWorks is committed to supporting young professionals looking to get their foot in the door in the sports industry.  Our team has received an extraordinary amount of support throughout our careers and are truly impressed with the generation of young leaders who are ready to help take the sports industry to all new heights.  If you know of any individuals like this, please let us know about them.  If you are in a position to hire or recommend these NetWorks Future Leaders, please contact us and we will put you in touch with them.  They are our future!

Today’s NetWorks Sports Future Leader is Patrick Henry


Patrick Henry

“As evidenced on his impressive resume, not only has Patrick had an extremely successful coaching & administrative career in several capacities and at various levels in sports, but he has also had a monumental & long-lasting impact (on and off the court) along the way.  Patrick’s meticulous work ethic, unquestionable reliability, and overall commitment to excellence are quite evident to his managers, co-workers, former student-athletes, and peers.  He has a very bright future ahead of him.

— Angela Taylor, President & CEO of NetWorks Sports Consulting



Name: Patrick Henry
College(s): Ohio University (Undergraduate) and Mercer University (Graduate)
Degree(s): Bachelor of Science in Interpersonal Communications and  Masters of Education in Holistic Education
Resume Available: Yes, upon request (send email request)

Tell us a little about your background.
I’m a Georgia native, a long time coach who’s married to wonderful wife and expecting our first child.

What type of work experience have you had?

I’ve worked in intercollegiate athletics, primarily in the south and the midwest.

I’ve also had the opportunity to teach Social Sciences and Physical Education at the High School level.

What type of job(s) are you seeking?
I am looking for opportunities that will allow me to both add value to a collegiate program by using my extensive experiences being involved with championship collegiate programs and that will give me the opportunity to have a positive influence on student-athletes.

What is your greatest strength?
My greatest strength would be my strong sense of professionalism. Regardless of the endeavor, whether it’s relationships, personnel development or project management, I approach any undertaking in a first class manner and with a commitment to professionalism.

Tell us about a project that you completed successfully.
The most recent project that I’ve completed has been some freelance work for institutions, providing feedback and consultation regarding recruiting organization, player skill development, and staff management and structure.

What experience (if any) do you have in the sports industry?

My experience in sports industry span an almost twenty year career involvement in men and women’s basketball. My career has ranged from coaching both high school boys and girls basketball while still a high school student, to serving as support staff at the BCS level as undergraduate, to being a on-the-floor coach the last thirteen years moving from a restricted earnings coach to an Associate Head Coach at the NCAA Division I level.

Why do you want to work in the sports industry?
Sports industry, specifically intercollegiate athletics, gives an opportunity to influence young people at a critical age before they begin their lives as independent adults.

I also really enjoy the planning and competitive aspects that being involved in coaching and management provides.

Who has had the biggest influence on your life?
My greatest influences have been my parents. They did a tremendous job of teaching me the importance of valuing both formal education and life experiences.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In ten years, I see myself as a successful head coach of women’s basketball program at a four-year institution, making an impact on young women’s lives and the community where the institution is located and winning championships.

Anything else we should know about you?

I may be the only coach to have worked for 4 National Coaches of the Year, 2 Head Coaches who coached at the professional level and also to have been fortunate to have been part of four conference championship teams at four separate institutions.

I have also coached at the High School, Junior College and NCAA Division I, II and III levels and have coached both men and women.

For more information about Patrick or to request a resume, please send an email to

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NetWorks Book of the Month – Ubuntu by Stephen Lundin & Bob Nelson

This week’s NetWorks Sports’ Recommended Book is Ubuntu! by Stephen Lundin and Bob Nelson.

For those who have read Stephen Lundin’s morale boosting book Fish! or learned how to motivate & reward your employees after reading Bob Nelson’s 1001 Ways to Reward Employees are in for a doubly powerful treat when you read Ubuntu! a book based on an African philosophy “Ubuntu” about partnership, teamwork, and collaboration.

Ubuntu, also known as a GNU/Linux based computer operating system, is defined on Wikipedia as African ethic or humanist philosophy focusing on peoples allegiances and relations with each other.  Ubuntu is seen as a classical African philosophy or worldview.  The word has its origin in the Bantu language of southern Africa.

Similar to Patrick Lenchioni’s books, Ubuntu follows the fictional story of a manager, John Peterson, who like many of individuals today find themselves in a rut both personally & professionally.  In particular, Peterson finds his work environment to be one that is extremely inefficient due to the lack of connectedness between co-workers.  His eyes are virtually opened one night when a co-worker, of African decent, stays behind to assist Peterson.

As with Lenchioni’s books this is a pretty easy read where the reader may discover the intent of the message well before the book concludes.  The premise provides readers with some very simple principles that should be commonsense but may be lost on many of us in today’s corporate culture.

The book can prove to be quite usually when trying to create a more collaborative & interactive work environment in your workplace.  If you are looking to find a simple approach to help change the culture at your office, Ubuntu is certainly a book and a philosophy that you should consider.

To sum up the concept, we can reference Desmond Tutu’s definition from the book “No Future Without Forgiveness.”

“A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.” ~ Archbishop Desmond Tutu

If you are open to a new approach steeped in the simplicity found in African cultures, Ubuntu is worth a read!

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NetWorks Sports Poll of the Week: Should Serena Williams be Fined and/or Suspension for her outburst at the U.S. Open?

In what many thought would be an easy victory for her on her way to her next majors win, Serena Williams got caught in an emotional outburst aimed at the chair umpire that forced officials to whether or not they would fine and/or suspend her for her actions on Sunday.

As was reported around 3:30pm ET on Monday, September 12th, Williams was fined $2,000 but has NOT been suspended according to this LA Times article.

This is the second infraction by Williams at the U.S. Open, but Patrick McEnroe did not feel it warranted a suspension. Months after a profanity-laced tirade at the 2009 U.S. Open, Williams was fined a record $82,500 by the Grand Slam Committee.  She was put on probation through the 2011 season & if involved in another incident, had the potential to receive another fine and/or be suspended.

Knowing that the Grand Slam Committee didn’t rule on her 2009 fine until December of that same year (yes, 3 months after the Open), the verdict is still out on what they will do this time.

What do you think the USTA’s actions should have been.? Vote here:

[polldaddy poll=5497837]

Thanks for voting!

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