For the first time in 30 years, participation in high school sports has declined. With involvement in youth sports directly associated with improved physical and mental health, teamwork, leadership skills, civic pride and academic achievement, the trend has alarmed many, including former Minnesota Viking Chad Greenway and Twin Cities Orthopedics (TCO). Today, in a bid to empower schools to face the challenge head on, the two announced a state-wide investment in and deployment of a software platform by technology company VNN that modernizes how athletic departments support student growth.
In short, the investment gives schools the ability to operate the way colleges and professional teams do, from maximizing ticketing and fundraising dollars to easily promoting all their sports online with the goal of building stronger, more self-sustaining athletics programs and better local communities in the process.
“We envision a future where every student has access and opportunity to the benefits of athletic participation, no matter the sport,” said Greenway. “State of the art digital tools can support high school sports management tasks which, in turn, drives more people to games, makes it easier to sign up, and builds community involvement. However, to do it right is a massive undertaking, especially for schools that are understaffed and underfunded. I’ve gotten to where I am because of the immense support and opportunities I received playing youth sports and I want all young student athletes to have that same opportunity by ensuring participation in Minnesota continues to go up, not down, like they are doing in the rest of the US.”
With a mission of connecting communities through sport, VNN has spent the last 10 years working with and learning from schools across the country to ensure their product gives schools what they need to achieve the most for their students. By streamlining the work athletic directors have to do to keep their parents, athletes and local fans up to date, and a robust API that allows them to connect to or sync with other software providers, VNN’s platform allows administrators to do more with less.
“We’re grateful for the opportunity to give back to our local athletes, coaches, families, and school administrators,” said Heather Lang, Vice President of Marketing at TCO. “As the Official Sports Medicine Provider for 21 high schools in the metro, we see first-hand how hard these schools work to provide opportunities for their students. That’s what makes this partnership with Chad and VNN so exciting. Athletic Directors are always striving to do more, and this technology can help make their dreams a reality.”
That’s where VNN’s Project Five comes in. Through the efforts of Chad Greenway and TCO, Minnesota’s high schools will now have free access to tools that will help drive attendance, increase community involvement, bolster student participation, highlight the tremendous efforts of athletes in the state, and fund new opportunities, ultimately helping families stay connected and energized around high school sports.
“You cannot ask for two better champions of high school sports”, said Rick Ehrman, CEO of VNN. “As a single parent of five young student athletes, bouncing from gym to gym all week, this partnership became obvious based on the investment already being made by TCO and the ex-Viking. I see Chad almost every weekend volunteering his time, teaching kids about teamwork, work ethic, and all the other benefits that come with the camaraderie of team sports. It’s also impossible to quantify the impact TCO has had in this market around injury prevention and performance enhancement but it was noticeable to me that they share the same mission as VNN as it relates to protecting athletes and growing participation.” I couldn’t be more excited about this partnership and hope schools across the State of MN take advantage of the generosity of these organizations.”
The technology package includes a custom-branded, ADA-compliant website, media score reporter, team coordination app (available on iOS and Android), online ticketing box office, and digital fundraising software, valued at $2,500 per school. All schools have to do to receive their free software is visit and sign-up at the website: vnnsports.net/projectfive.
Greenway continued, “As I found out when I played in the NFL, Minnesota has the best fans in the country. We want to ensure they have the same high-quality experience with their local high school team as they have when following the Vikings.”