First of all, thank you so much for supporting us.
You are truly helping us change the world.
Hey--Devon here--I founded NextGen Athletics in May of 2022, but there are an absolutely insane amount of life events that led up to that moment.
I totally understand if you don't have time to read this right now, but I encourage you to take a look when you get the chance. Our story will show you why we are so deeply invested in what we do.
Plus, I'm an open book, so if you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out!
(or skip right down to the company-specific story!)
A Few Words From The Founder:
I'll save you the sob story, but when I tell you that I was depressed and played video games all day for an entire year before I started this adventure, I'm not joking. Allow me to explain how in the world I went from suicidal thoughts to helping hundreds of athletes across Michigan in just a few months:
The longest I had ever been able to hold down a job was 8 months. (But typically I lasted about 3...) The truth is, I had known for a long time that I wanted to do my own thing--I just didn't know what exactly I wanted to work on, and I was terrified of what people would say about me if I failed.
Many times, I had "tried" to get something off the ground, but at the first sign of resistance, I'd fold and go back to what was comfortable--living the way I had always been told to live--safe, structured, and small.
The problem was that I had always felt 'different.' I've always believed that there is nothing wrong with a 'normal' life, but do you know that feeling in your gut that tells you something isn't right? I got that feeling every. single. time. that I went into my corporate job. EVERY time that I quieted that voice in my head that said I was capable of more. EVERY TIME that I had an opportunity presented to me that I passed on because it was 'too risky...' 'too expensive...' 'too...'
I knew that there was more out there for me. From a young age. But I was stuck in a cycle of people-pleasing and negative self-talk. And I know that there are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people that feel the same. That's why I've made it my mission to find those people and help them live lives that are authentically theirs.
To me, coaching is about more than just athletics. It is about stepping into oneself. It's about un-learning our societal conditioning. Aligning with our instinctual thoughts and beliefs--finding out what the heck those even are in the first place. It's about becoming articulate in the language of oneself through a discipline that brings us joy even when it's hard.
I don't know the words to express the gratitude I feel right now, so I'll say this: I will continue to empower each individual I come across. I will continue to encourage our youth to face their fears in a safe and nurturing environment. I will mentor and guide until the day that I die, and if I can help these kids half as much as they help me, I will have succeeded. Thanks for reading. See you on the mats. :P
The Journey So Far...
December 2021 - The idea of NGA was born.
January 2022 - Asked a few key people how to get started.
February 2022 - Finally made a commitment to taking action.
March 2022 - Got all of the legal paperwork in order...NGA became a legal business entity! Yay! We also started planning our first event -- West Michigan Stuntfest!
April 2022 - Hired the first employee, developed class structures, began public outreach.
May 2022 - We started working with our first school! Our first attempt at West Michigan Stuntfest got rained out, but we were able to re-schedule and around 20 people showed up! It was a blast!
June-August 2022 - We talked with over a dozen schools, and were able to line up schedules with 7 of them! Most of our classes for these schools were held between June and August. In this time, we started with our initial iteration of NGA class structure, and made slight alterations nearly a dozen times to make our circuits universally applicable. We kept hearing fantastic reviews, but we still wanted to be better. We won't stop at being "better than your previous tumbling instructors." We will keep evolving as long as we're breathing.
September 2022- By this time, we had increased our coaching staff from 2 to 6, and we needed to find more to accommodate the quickly-growing number of schools that wanted to work with us. We did a number of recruiting ventures, and were able to increase our staff from 6 to 9 in just a few weeks! Sideline season was beginning, and we were still working with 7 schools, but we also knew things would be amping up...quickly.
October-December 2022 - We were right. In a matter of weeks, our 7 schools nearly doubled, and we needed to find EVEN MORE coaches to accommodate them. (That's not easy when you're looking for true talent!) But we stepped up to the plate (onto the mats?) and delivered. And we didn't stop there. By this point, we had developed a training structure for our coaches that ensured, regardless of prior experience, all coaches wearing an NGA logo would be held to a standard unprecedented in the industry. Furthermore, with such a huge number of schools to coordinate with, James changed his role from "childhood friend giving advice" to fully-fledged "operations manager".
2023 - SO much has been going on that our website maintenance has suffered, so I'm sorry for not being more specific here! We are working with over 30 teams from 19 schools, and that number continues to grow. Our staff is constantly improving, and our programming continues to evolve.
Needless to say, things have been going incredibly well, and we could not be more grateful for all of your support. We will continue to set the standard for tumbling coaching in Michigan. Keep raising the bar, baby.
What Are We Up To Now?
Who, us? Nothing. We're all about being secretive and gatekeeping information that could help thousands of kids....NOT!
We'll get into the good stuff in the next section, but if you're curious about some of the more static information, here you go! (This will be updated monthly.)
Specializing our team
Training TONS of coaches
Refining our curriculum
Providing summer tumbling
Creating "Homework" to become a better tumbler
Where Are We Headed?
This is where things get interesting. We have plans... A lot of them. And frankly, as a business, it's not very smart to put them online where anyone can see and use them, haha. But as coaches and an example to the Next Generation of business owners, I would like nothing more than for someone to take our ideas. If you see something on this list and you're like "damn...I could do that." GO DO IT. NGA's here to make waves, not money. Without further adieu, here is a tentative schedule for what things are going to look like in the next year or two. Ambitious? Yes. Possible? It's already happened. Time just hasn't caught up yet. ;)
January-February 2023 - Finish out competitive season. Our main focus right now is getting our schools where they need to be, and continuing to improve our programs.
March-May 2023 -
Somewhere between March and May, we'll be moving into our own gym space somewhere within 15 minutes of Grand Rapids, MI. There will be a huge pizza party Grand Opening! Keep an eye out for that, because we are beyond excited, and want to see you there!
March and April are going to be when we start building hype for the first 2023 West Michigan Stuntfest! Last year we had 20ish people come, and that's awesome, but we have our sights set on hundreds. It takes a whole village to make something like that happen, so start planning now! (The event will tentatively be in late May!)
Camp time! When I tell you that we have some AWESOME camp ideas, that is an understatement. Get ready for camps the likes of which you have never seen. Don't get me wrong--there are great camps out there...but how many of them bring in athletes from some of your dream colleges? I don't want to spoil TOO much before things are set in stone, but rest assured, you're going to absolutely love it.
Speaking of colleges--WHY ARE THERE SO FEW COLLEGE PREP CAMPS IN MICHIGAN??? Like, seriously! What the heck?? We don't get it, and we aren't going to let a year go by without working on it. College prep camps all over the state are incoming.
Also speaking of colleges--the thought of how younger Michigan cheerleaders get virtually no opportunity to train coed stunting outside of private lessons makes me want to crawl into a hole, grow a MASSIVE beard, use flint and tinder to start a fire. Well, THAT, or I guess we could do something about it. We chose the ladder. Co-Ed Stunting Clinics are nigh.
Speaking of coed stunting...as years go on, it's becoming increasingly obvious that cheerleading is, in fact, a sport. (lol.) I didn't find that out until college, but there's no reason that other guys shouldn't. We'll be rolling out a male-outreach program to see if we can build some hype with the Y chromosomes.
Speaking of Y chromosomes...(seeing a theme yet? This is all connected.)...It's about time that all genders can perform together in high school cheer. Private lessons should not be their only way to get trained at a level where they may get scholarships for coed cheer one day. We have heard time and time again that these conversations never make it far, and we don't care. We understand that it won't be easy or a pleasant experience. We don't care. It's going to change. WE, (yeah, you), are going to change it.
TL;DR - We're getting a gym, New camps, College Prep, Coed Stunting, Male-outreach, and starting a revolution.