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 Rising Stars – Shalynn Leonard (@Ballihoo_Sports)

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 Rising Stars, please contact us and we will put you in touch with them.  They are our future!

Today’s NetWorks Sports Rising Star is Shalynn Leonard

Shalynn Leonard

“Shalynn is a very talented individual with tremendous experience in marketing and player relations with the NBA.  She is someone who is willing to go the extra mile to make sure that all aspects of a project have been taken care of and is interested in continuing to learn & develop her leadership skills.  She is passionate about the sports industry and will be a tremendous asset to any organization.
–Angela Taylor, President & CEO – NetWorks Sports Consulting

Name: Shalynn Leonard

College(s): Norfolk State University (Undergraduate) and Los Angeles Fashion Institute of Design and Manufacturing

Degree(s): Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies.  A.A. Apparel Manufacturing Managment

Resume Available: Yes, upon request (send email request)

Tell us a little about your background.
I was born and raised in the rainy city of Seattle, WA. I’m a HBCU graduate who had the opportunity to play basketball at the D1 level.

What type of work experience have you had?
My work experience consists of many different fields outside the sports industry. Upon graduation, I had the opportunity to be in the Hertz Management Training Program, after 6 months was then promoted to an Insurance Liaison. I have many years in Sales at both Nike and the NBA specialty stores. As well as experience as an Administrative Assistant at Highline Community College.

What type of job(s) are you seeking?
I’m looking to capitalize on my sports marketing experience in a position where I have an opportunity for growth while adding value to the organization.

What is your greatest strength?
My greatest strength would be my strong interpersonal skills. I have an extraordinary ability to interact professionally and build a rapport with exclusive and global clientele.

Tell us about a project that you completed successfully.
My most recent project that I’ve completed successfully would be the 2011 NBA All-Star weekend in Los Angeles, CA. I worked as a Marketing Associate for the Community & Player Program department. I supported the staff in planning player appearances leading up to and during the All Star weekend.

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

My experience in the sports industry consists of working for the NBA in the Community & Player Program Department. I supported the staff with marketing duties for up coming projects. I assisted in facilitating player appearances for current and former NBA players, worked with internal and external marketing partners and sponsors, as well as contract preparation and negotiation. I also coached girls basketball with my alma mater Rainier Beach High School and Highline Community College.

Why do you want to work in the sports industry?
Working in the sports industry has always been my endeavor. Not only is sports my passion, but having the experience as a student athlete gave me the work ethic and confidence to thrive in this industry.

Who has had the biggest influence on your life?
My biggest influence is God and my family. They believe in me and continue to push me to my purpose. My mother always told me to “Go after my passion and the money will follow,” that statement has always stuck with me to this day.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years, I see myself as one of the leading women executives within a sports management organization. I will be a mover and a shaker who continues to strive for excellence.

Anything else we should know about you?

I will be pursuing an MBA in Sports Business in the Spring of 2012. In the Summer of 2012, I’ll be coordinating my first annual girls basketball camp in various cities. I also had the chance to attend high school with the NBA likes of Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson, and Terrence Williams.

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

Follow NetWorks Sports on Twitter at @NetWorks_Sports

In Their Own Words with Romone Penny, National Tax Associate Rotator @Ernst_and_Young

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 Romone Penny

Romone Penny - National Tax Associate Rotator, Ernst & Young

Another success story from John Rice’s Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) program, Romone Penny grew up in Minneapolis and as a result of his academic & athletic success now runs with the elite in Washington, DC.

In 2002 & in partnership with the MLT Program, NBA All-Star Kevin Garnett (then with the Minnesota Timberwolves), handpicked Romone to take part in the inaugural program under his 4XL initiative.  Penny was one of two students who participated in a weekend-long immersion into the business aspects of the NBA.  That experience, coupled with his stint playing on the hoops squads at Florida State and American University, has served as a strong foundation for his current success as a finance executive with Ernst & Young.

What is your current title and how long have you been in this position?
I am currently a National Tax Associate Rotator at Ernst & Young in Washington, DC. I transferred to EY’s National Tax Division in November in 2010. I interned with E&Y in 2007 and had worked with the organization in Business Tax Compliance since 2008 prior to moving into my current position.

Tell us what your specific role is with the organization?
I assist the National Tax office with Accounting Methods and Inventory. In this division, we focus on what is currently impacting business operations, and we’re asked to anticipate future political, legislative and regulatory changes. We help companies prepare for the issues that are likely to have an impact in the future. We provide our national EY offices and clients with a deeper analysis of congressional and IRS actions. A normal day for me includes extensive research and formulating advice on complex technical issues, and reviewing to EY’s national practice offices, and reviewing tax accounting methods applications.

What is your favorite part of the job?

Meeting every other Tuesday for our Federal Tax Services (FTS) Knowledge Sharing lunch meetings. Some of the country’s top practicioners share what they are working on and we chime in to help solve issues, ask questions, and also share what we have learned in the previous weeks, all while enjoying free lunch. Sometimes a few of the partners (that are attorneys) get into deep discussion and small debates as if they were in court….it gets pretty intense lol, but more importantly makes me want to step my game up so I can be able to do that in the near future…

What was your first “REAL” job?
My first “REAL” job was with Ernst & Young. I started in 2008 shortly after college. I accepted the position during my internship with the firm in 2007. I am still with the firm, just in a different position/role. One lesson that I learned was to always be proactive and get your work done asap, never procrastinate because more work will pile up quickly.

Has being a competitive athlete helped you in your current role or during your career? If so, please tell us in what ways.
As my mentor, John Rice says, you can tell the type of person that someone is by the way they play. I believe that is true for me. I am very passionate and competitive. I like to share the basketball and I am a considerate individual off the court. Most importantly I am a solid team player that tries to have good communication skills, adapting to unfamiliar situations, and never giving up. I feel like there is a direct correlation to my skill set on the court and my approach with my career. I am always willing to help others out, I am proactive, and always asking questions at work becuase you can always learn from others – just like in sports.

What do you miss and what don’t you miss about being a competitive athlete?
I miss listening to the fans/crowds. I miss practicing and traveling with my teammates. I miss coming up with songs or a motivational saying to get my teammates pumped up!..I miss talking trash…I do not miss sitting on the bench haha…

What was your most memorable moment as an athlete? What was your most embarrassing moment?
Playing in the 2008 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament vs Tenn Vols. The game was on national television and everyone at my barber shop (Eddies, Washington, D.C.) was cheering for me/us!….My mentor and old coach flew out to make the game so that was a great experience. We lost, but at the end of the day I was happy becuase that was my dream to play in the NCAA tournament as a D-1 student-athlete.

How often do you workout? What type of things do you do to stay active?
I play bball 2-3 times a week…try to lift 2-3 times a week…do pushups almost everyday. During the summers, I practice with the WNBA’s Washington Mystics. When I am not doing that, I am playing with my friends in local gymanaisums in NW Washington, D.C. I also train kids for a program called “1 on 1 basketball” so I try to do drills with them.

Do you have a mentor (or mentors) who has helped you along the way?
Yes, Rex Holland – a father figure, mentor, and good friend. Took me under his wings since I was about 11. He is a very successful business man, hard worker, and trustworthy.

John Rice – like an older brother, a mentor, and friend. Helped me realize my talents and potential. Introduced me to so many successful individuals that support me in all of my endeavors. Created a home away from home while I was in college. Gives me adice on various issues from sports, to business, to women…

Martin Gruenberg – friend and mentor. Fairly new relationship, but has been extremely supportive and made me feel like family. I coach his son, Paul in basketball, and Marty and I have conversations about sports, life, and family. Gives me advice on careers and keeps me grounded. I also learn from him by his characteristics of being personable and patient.

If you knew then what you know now, is there anything that you would do differently in your career?
Yes, I would have watched more film including practice and games. I would have saved money instead of spending it on stupid things when I was in college. I would have reached out and stayed connected to more Alumni and donors from my schoools…..

Who has had the biggest influence on your life?
Rex Holland, John Rice, Phyllis Tines (mom)

Do you have any advice for young professionals and/or former student-athletes hoping to have a successful career after sports?
START NOW!!!! and use your resources/contacts…

Favorite Book: The Blind Side and The Alchemist

Favorite Movie: Tombstone

Hobbies: Reading, Swimming, Coaching, Writing, searching for underground music, dancing, laughing

Favorite Place to Vacation: Florida

What’s playing on your iPod? J. Cole, Jay-Z & Kanye “Watch the Throne”, Big Sean

Android or iPhone? Blackberry

Mac or PC? Mac

Favorite TV Show: ESPN

Favorite Restaurant: Bonaparte Washington DC

Favorite Quote: “Be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind” ~ unknown


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!!

Follow NetWorks Sports Consulting on Twitter at @NetWorks_Sports

NetWorks Small Business Profile – Black Sheep Consulting (@JaysBetter)

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 Black Sheep Consulting and its Founder, Jay Mayes

Jay Mayes, President of Black Sheep Consulting

Name: Jay Mayes

Title: President

Company Name: Black Sheep Consulting

Company Website:




When did you start your company and what was your inspiration for starting it?
I started Black Sheep Consulting in late 2010 after what I like to explain as my “Jerry Maguire Monument”. After over 7 years working on the business side of professional sports and moving across the country 3 times to work my way from a part-time intern with an NFL team to a Corporate Executive with a NBA franchise I suddenly, became underwhelmed with the direction of the professional sports industry and specifically with my role in professional sports. Over my years working in the sports industry, I had become pretty good at creating programs that helped my clients sell their “stuff” to fans and consumers. Many of the programs I created focused on ways to generate more revenue for my clients.

I woke up one day and decided, “I wanted to invest my time and skills in people”. Instead of creating those programs to just generate revenue I wanted to create programs that would help to generate change.

So I went in search of a role that allowed me to use my skill sets and experience in Sports and Entertainment, but also would allow my to help others. I would probably still be looking for that job if it wasn’t for a friend who suggested that I write out the description of my perfect job that might help me narrow my search, so, I did. I sat down one day and wrote exactly what I wanted in a role… Sports Marketing + Cause Marketing.

But instead of continuing my search, I decided to start a firm that did just that.

What’s your Elevator Pitch?
As more organizations begin to focus on Cause Marketing, it is our mission to create programs and partnerships that bring together what we call the “Big Three” causes/non-profits, companies and athletes into integrated programs that achieve real results and the create real change in the lives of the people they touch.

What’s the company’s Mission Statement?
We Aim to be industry innovators; we will continually work to challenge the “status quo” by building partnerships based on innovation, trust, and common goals. We will create uniquely customized programs, ideas, and partnerships that work to do GOOD and yield measurable and meaningful results for our clients.

What is your favorite part of owning your own business?
Here are my 7 favorite aspects of running Black Sheep Consulting:

1) Creating my own work schedule…. there’s nothing like it!
2) Doing conference calls in my PJ’s
3) Being able to do what I love all the time!
4) Working with GREAT people (I love my team) #teamblksheep
5) Watching the morning edition of Sports Center twice as I do my morning calls and emails
6) Not having to wear a suit everyday
7) Knowing that what I am doing is going to make a difference in someone’s life!!

Tell us about your career before you became your own boss.
My career before becoming my own boss was great, I had the opportunity to work with some amazing people across various levels of sports. I have been able to work with and learn from some of the best in the industry. I have also had the opportunity to travel the county, learn, and sell for an eclectic group of sports properties, and sports agencies. I have learned the importance of teamwork, communication, honesty, dedication, and passion in your life’s work. And I have also learned that if you love what you do, it never feels like work!

Were you previously involved in the sports industry?  If so, what capacity?
My career has given me experience both on the agency side and team side of professional sports, which has provided a great foundation and vision for Black Sheep Consulting. My experience includes NFL, NBA, WNBA, NLL, MLL, WPGA, Motorsports and Professional Horse Racing. While Mayes’s agency work includes a stint with A. Bright Idea Sports Marketing, and consulting relationships with Clutch Media, Hands On Sports & Entertainment, Networks Sports and TOAW Modern Marketing. I have learned many lessons of the course of my career that I believe have prepared me for this next career challenge.

What was your goal when starting the company?  Has that changed?  What is your long-term vision for your company?
From the outset, I wanted to start a company that I was proud of. I wanted to be able to wake up and do something that I loved every day. My goal was to use my gifts and talents to do good in the community, build meaningful Cause Marketing partnerships and programs that linked companies, causes, and athletics in a way that accomplishes specific goals and objectives for each. Our long term goals included becoming leaders in the cause marketing industry. To create innovative cause marketing + sports marketing programs and partnerships that work to help make real change in the lives of others.

What is it like running your own company?  Give us a “day in the life.”
It’s the most fun I have ever had, but it’s also the biggest challenge that I have had professionally. Every day is different, but I have learned over the last 10 months that building a structured day and week is critical in staying on task and making sure that projects are completed on time. My day typically begins early with emails, research and catching up on the “biz”, this includes reading articles on causes, athletes, and trends within the sports marketing + cause marketing industry. Many of my weeks are set around pushing particular projects forward, Sunday nights are my time to lay out my weekly plan around each project. From there I prioritize need actions and place them in the appropriate order. After my morning emails and research, I dive into each day’s plan, which might include, meetings, phone calls, program generation, presentations, and business development for the company. My late afternoon is reserved as “ME” time, this is my time to relax, workout, reconnect with friends or run some personal errands. I think it’s important to do something for yourself every day. I think sometimes we get some caught up in taking care of everything and everybody else that we forget to do what makes us happy. After dinner, I typically do a few more hours of proposal work or research on the couch or outside on the deck (weather permitting) before bed.

What are the greatest challenges of owning your own business?
One of the biggest challenges in owning your own business is realizing that you may not be able to do it all. I have learned that we all are good at something, but no one is good at everything. So I decided that I was going to stick to doing what I do best and surround myself with great talent in those other areas and that is what I have done. This has truly allowed me to work to move projects forward while letting my team do what they do best.

What has been the biggest surprise you’ve had in being an entrepreneur/business owner?
How a small team of dedicated people can pull off a great program and change peoples lives!

What are the greatest rewards of entrepreneurship & business ownership?
Doing great work with great people!

Is there a mentor (or mentors) who has helped you along the way?
I have many mentors.

Please share any advice for readers who are considering starting their own business.
My advice for anyone who is considering starting their own business is DO IT!

Create a great plan and stick with it!

Surround yourself with great people!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Learn from the mistakes of others.

Favorite Book: Rules of the Red Rubber Ball – By Kevin Carroll

Favorite Movie: Love Actually

Hobbies: Lacrosse, Fishing, People Watching

What’s playing on your iPod: Drake, Little Wayne, Kanya, Kid Cudi, Wiz

Android or iPhone: Android

Mac or PC: Mac

Favorite TV Show: Always Sunny

Favorite Restaurant: I prefer to grill at home!

Favorite Quote: “While everyone is trying to make a dollar, we are trying to make a difference”


For more information on Jay Mayes & Black Sheep Consulting, log on to

To find out about other small businesses, sign up for the NetWorks Sports “Changing the Game” Newsletter today!!

Follow NetWorks Sports Consulting on Twitter at @NetWorks_Sports