Soccer has been called many different names – football, footie, the most popular sport in the world. For two entrepreneurs, soccer is called a business opportunity. Jeremy Sorzano and Jason Webb, co-founders of Soccer Shots, were simply looking for a job during the off season of their professional soccer careers to try to make some extra money. What they found was a business opportunity that has continued to grow into a franchise system that puts their brand at the forefront of child health and fitness.
“I started Soccer Shots in the offseason while playing for a minor league soccer team called the Charlotte Eagles, which is a team that is part of the United Soccer Leagues (USL),” said Sorzano. “Unfortunately, the salary of a minor league soccer player is pretty paltry and once the season ends, everyone is looking for work.”
Sorzano got the opportunity to take over a soccer program geared towards children 3 to 5 years of age that worked with several day cares in the Charlotte area in 2000. With their professional soccer careers coming to an end, Sorzano and Webb saw it as an opportunity to remain in the sport they loved.
“Jason saw the value of Jeremy’s endeavors, and after his playing career at the Charlotte Eagles, he established a Soccer Shots program in his hometown of Harrisburg, PA,” said Justin Bredeman, who joined the Soccer Shots team in 2005 as Vice President of recruitment. “Furthermore, their eyes were opened to a viable business built on providing a quality, age-appropriated intro to soccer program.”
So, why the focus on children 3-5 years of age? “I’d say good fortune,” said Sorzano. “When I was coaching summer camps at college and with the Eagles, I tended to get put with the younger kids due to my energy level. I quickly realized kids at this age were great to work with because of their high energy, creative minds, and unabashed enthusiasm for everything.”
Organizations tend to forget that children 3 to 5 years of age are like information sponges and have the ability to soak up a lot of information taught to them. Because of this, Soccer Shots has developed a program that teaches the fundamentals of the sport while also being able to build on essential skills needed for early childhood development. The curriculum uses over 40 structured lessons that are taught in a non-competitive manner, which teaches the children to work and learn with each other.
Soccer Shots began franchising in 2005 and has since quickly grown to 100 locations in 30 states, and serves roughly 50,000 children annually. With the brand expanding quickly, the executive staff have been learning some secrets about running a business.
“It’s incredibly important for us to communicate and collaborate with our franchise community. I’ve learned that it’s important to ask the right questions of our franchise leaders to learn their perspective, seek to understand them and mine the best ideas,” said Bredeman. “My partners and I must continue to intentionally nurture a culture of candor and respect with our franchise community.”
So what is Soccer Shots to Sorzano, Webb and Bredeman? It is a business opportunity, a program that reaches out to a demographic that is so important but often overlooked, and a lifestyle.
“You get the opportunity to see kids have success in the game for the first time and it’s hard not to be effected by their enthusiasm for sports and life in general,” said Sorzano.