How is the business structured and what programs do you offer?
We are a preschool soccer program. We offer weekly classes inside our partner preschools. We work with the kids; we talk about going on an adventure each week. This month, we’ve been playing Candyland. Then we have a soccer-specific move that we work on. We put it to a song or put it to sound. They don’t realize that they’re learning a pretty advanced soccer move. Then we’re running five leagues a year. We use multiple balls so that all kids are getting a chance to run and score goals. We want lots of movement and lots of activities with lots of high fives and cheering. Fast-paced fun. In all of our curriculum and lesson plans, kids aren’t standing in lines. Everybody has a ball. Everybody’s active all at the same time.
When did the Springfield location open? I understand this was one of the first franchise locations of HappyFeet.
2006 was when it started. This was one of the first franchises purchased. Andrew Clifton is the one who started it here. He then moved back to Kansas City and took on a bigger role within the corporate organization. Matt [Holdaway] came along and purchased the franchise, and we’ve been growing since. We have five coaches who work within the preschools and then we have another 12 who coach league.
What’s the mission behind the organization?
A lot of leagues focus on the rules. You play like the adults play. We want the kids to fall in love with the sport and have fun with it and learn to love it in a very natural way.
What organizations do you partner with?
We partner with Kingsway (United Methodist Church), we come in here one night a week, and then Grace Church of the Nazarene. Our third location, our outdoor location, is St. John’s Chapel. We do have 16 preschools that we are partnered with. They let us come in and teach classes once a week to their kids. That’s more like a membership. They pay once a month to commit for us to come in, the families that choose to participate in HappyFeet. Each of our partner preschools is $40 a month for the weekly classes. Our leagues range in price from $90-$140.
How many participants do you have and how have your programs grown?
That first league back in 2006, there were 30 kids. This past fall, we had 155 kids. This fall, [Assistant Director] Angela [Tetors] and I had a huge push for back to school. We’re looking to add five more preschools this calendar year. Then, we really want to focus on growing the schools that we’re already partnered with, growing the number of kids that are participating in those schools.
What’s your background and when did you get involved in the company?
I came on board April 1 of last year. I was a college soccer coach and had moved all around the country and worked for a number of universities and was tired of living out of a suitcase. By the time I met Matt, I was very desperate to get back into soccer but still being at home with my family. When it came time to figure out life after college, the only thing I really knew was soccer, and I was given an opportunity to start coaching. It grabbed hold of me and hasn’t let go.
Josh Ganson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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