Steel Sports CEO Martin Brown discussed youth sports and social impact during “Pizza With the Pros” on Monday, March 21.
Brown, a coaching and youth sports guru, spoke to Rowan students on the multitude of opportunities that Steel Sports provides for communities around the country. The unique values entrenched in Steel Sports is something that Brown takes pride in and believes to be the key to the company’s success over the last two years.
“You only grow as fast as the quality of the people in the company,” Brown said.
Steel Sports, a subsidiary of Steel Partners, was founded in 2011 off inspiration from chairman Warren Lichtenstein, and his connection with late Hall of Fame baseball coach Tommy Lasorda. The Los Angeles Dodgers legend is known for a revolutionary coaching style, often inspiring the best of his players by exuding an abundance of passion with each member of the team.
According to Brown, the same mentality is not only what drove the creation of Steel Sports, but also is responsible for Brown’s eventual hiring.
“Shut up and do something about it,” is a line by Lasorda that Brown recalled when reminiscing of his early coaching career.
Growing up the son of a Liverpool scout, Brown fell in love with the game of soccer and became a coach soon after university. He spent time in the early 2000s going back and forth between England and the United States until he realized that he wanted to coach in his own way. Brown wanted to develop a new soccer program with him as the only coach. With each year came growth for Brown, upgrading his facilities until the point of founding Jersey United Soccer in 2004.
The success did not end there, as he ultimately got the position as President & CEO of Steel Sports.
In order to be a coach at Steel Sports, one must “be willing to say, ‘I don’t know it all,’ and be willing to learn,” Brown said.
Humility and growth are a major point of emphasis when determining coaches for their programs. Brown rhetorically mentioned that a youth athlete cannot understand how to overcome mistakes if they have a coach that shares the same ineptitude. They must perfect nonverbal communication, like body language or facial expression, as that is often what kids will understand quicker than criticism or directions. He explained how the coaches are put in the best position to improve the lives of their athletes, but also themselves.
“The people that you work with are so key,” Brown said.
As much of an emphasis Steel Sports places on athlete development, they make sure the careers of their coaches and employees are just as important. Brown detailed the partnership the company has in place for ex-employees who move on to create their own organizations, providing support through equipment or finance.
Steel Sports also offers an array of internships for college students who are interested in the field of youth sports and social impact. Brown detailed positions ranging from graphic design to business administration, all of which could lead to substantial career opportunities externally, or advancement into a leadership position at Steel Sports.
Brown detailed an original distaste for how Steel Partners was running, sporting a capital-driven business plan, and knew he “had to change the narrative.” In cooperation with chairman Lichtenstein, they overhauled the operations of Steel Partners to promote a growth and community-based corporate culture. Steel Sports has spread its famous coaching system throughout all of the branches of Steel Partners, even those not related to sports.
Above all else, Steel Sports supports honesty with the parents of their athletes, as they understand the importance a parent makes in their journey,
“There are a lot of organizations that are not truthful to the parents,” Brown said.
The biggest issue Brown sees with parents is them living “vicariously” through their child in sports, often restricting them to one sport. Steel Sports is dedicated to changing that and promoting a sampling of sports for young athletes where they can get their feet wet and provide them the opportunity to decide their future.
For more information and opportunities at Steel Sports, students are encouraged to visit their website.
Pizza With the Pros returns Monday evening with 94.1 WIP radio midday co-host, Joe DeCamara, chats with Rowan students. DeCamara began his radio broadcasting career at 1490 WBCB after leaving a job with a large financial company in New York City.
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