April 12, 2024

Jesse Oaks Adult Volleyball Leagues - Sold Out Podcast #1

Explore the transformation of Jesse Oaks from a modest start to a bustling volleyball hub, as Sean shares insights into the league's evolution, operational strategies, and player engagement, illustrating how dedication and innovation can cultivate a thriving sports community.

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Welcome to Episode #1 of the Sold Out podcast where we interview league organizers across the country for trips and tricks on how to sell out leagues.

Located in Gages Lake, Illinois, a place nestled between Chicago and Milwaukee, Jesse Oaks has grown from a modest beginning into a hub of volleyball activity that draws teams and players from across the region. In this enlightening conversation with Sean, a key figure behind Jesse Oaks, we delve into the multifaceted journey of their volleyball leagues—from their inception in 1998 with just 18 teams to their current status as a year-round beacon of volleyball, hosting upwards of 200 teams in some seasons.

Sean shares valuable insights into the operational strategies, challenges, and triumphs faced over the years. He discusses the motivation behind starting the leagues, the process of building and maintaining state-of-the-art facilities, and the innovative approaches taken to ensure fair play and competitive balance among teams. Moreover, Sean highlights the importance of player engagement, the role of feedback in refining the league experience, and the impact of technology in streamlining operations.

This conversation is not just about volleyball; it's a narrative of passion, community building, and the relentless pursuit of providing an exceptional recreational sports experience. We cover everything from the genesis of Jesse Oaks' volleyball leagues to the continuous efforts made to enhance the player experience and grow the community. This is a story of how dedication, player feedback, and strategic adjustments can create a thriving sports league that becomes a staple in its city.

Below is the full transcript from this episode. The Sold Out Podcast is available on Spotify or you can watch the entire interview on our YouTube Channel! Tune in every other week to hear AREENA interview the country's best league organizers about their success in selling out leagues consistently.


Lance (00:00.869)
Alright, today we have Sean from Jesse Oaks on the podcast. Thanks Sean for being here. Why don't we start with the basics of your business. Where are you located? What leagues are you running? How many teams do you have participating in each season? Yeah, I would like to explain the midpoint between Sean and Jesse.

Sean (00:14.166)
We're in Gages Lake, Illinois. Gages Lake is at the midpoint between Chicago and Milwaukee. We're on the Illinois side of the border. Jesse Oaks opened in April of 96 and started volleyball in 98. 18 teams their first year. Just a summer season. Grew the leagues through the years.

2007 opened an indoor volleyball league, started with two courts, went to four, went to six, put a volleyball or put a building, clear-span metal building over two of the courts, started indoor leagues for year-round volleyball in 2007. And currently we fill up our fall and we fill up our winter leagues with about 160 teams in each league for fall and winter and summer.

I mean, our true limits, probably 300 plus teams. We usually are around the 200 mark for the summertime, but we're pretty much 52 weeks of volleyball here.

Lance (01:14.737)
Yeah, perfect. So yeah, why did you, or you said, you mentioned kind of when you started the leagues, but what was the motivation to get them off the ground in the first place?

Sean (01:24.67)
Well, here's what I did buying a bar, and I said something that John Teffert says. You know, how do you get people through the door? The most important part of the bar is getting someone through the door. And I was like, hey, you know, we're on two acres of land, you know, what are we going to do? And I'm like, let's build a couple of volleyball courts to see if we can get people here. There was really no other volleyball leagues in the county. Just came up with the idea and, you know, got a...

buddy who's an excavator, another buddy who hauls the dirt and the sand and marks some areas out between trees, put lights on trees and started with two volleyball leagues and our 18 teams our first year and I think I played on one of them, my dad played on another and then it just grew from there.

Lance (02:10.078)
How did you get those first 18 teams? How did you get it off the ground?

Sean (02:15.106)
You know, that's 1990s there, late 1990s. I think I just had Miller put a sign up in the front of the building, front of the building's that way, that's why I'm pointing.

Lance (02:17.917)

Lance (02:25.112)
All right.

Sean (02:28.758)
You know, there was a lot of people that I knew that were on the teams that played. You know, and here we are, brand new bar. You know, we had drilled up some excitement. We put a beer garden outside. That was a gravel beer garden at the time where the tables were made out of the Comet cable cores, you know, for the wires that go up on telephone poles and, uh, you know, the $3 of Menards chairs.

You know, it just drew an interest to hey, what are we going to do in the summertime? Well, let's play volleyball. Horseshoes was still going on. We had a couple of horseshoe pits then, but volleyball brings more people, six people per team as opposed to two. So.

Lance (03:01.373)
Nice, yeah. Well, how did you think about differentiating your sort of, you said at the beginning there wasn't a lot going on around there. I know now that there is. How did you think about differentiating, you know, playing volleyball there versus anywhere else? Or how do you think about it now?

Sean (03:15.982)
Well, I think when you own a bar or a restaurant, volleyball venue, whatever you own, the place itself is a product. So you've got to look at it as a product. And you want to always make sure the product is nice or it's new. So there's always, I don't do major new things. I mean,

most recent major new thing I woulda did woulda been the lodge. But there's things through the years that I made the lodge look nicer, made it look a little bit different. Put glass garage door up one year. I'll do another one this year. So you always kind of give it a fresh look, make it look fresh. Don't make it look run down. You got to maintain it. And you know,

So you keep your product nice, people will keep coming to your product, which is getting people in the door, which is again the most important part. Obviously your food's got to be good, that's probably the most important thing in the restaurant industry is to have good food. I mean you can have cheap food and people know it's cheap. I mean actually I charge less for food than normal, I don't do the normal markup on it, but I just figure food is the driver to bring people in and then drinks are drinks, you know.

If all that stuff maintains good, you're never gonna make everybody happy, but you keep driving people in by making your place continue to be nice. So, glasses are all fogged up. It's kinda weird. Haha.

Lance (04:32.838)
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Lance (04:36.509)
Well I know you talked about format though. How did you decide the format of your league? And we talked about power ranking and stuff of that nature in terms of really making the volleyball experience great. So how did you land on the format in terms of number of weeks and how playoffs work and all that kind of stuff and the power ranking and all that.

Sean (04:55.01)
So we started out where we just follow normal, what is it, NCAA rules for volleyball. And then we call, we have another set of rules called the Jesse Oaks House Rules. And.

We aim for competitive play here. So you go to a bar league, you know, if you have one league, you know, you can have a team that's undefeated and a team that's defeated. And what fun is it, you know, even to be the undefeated team if you're beating every team and then the team that didn't win a game, you know, how much fun is it going to be to play that team?

So we do competitive scheduling here, and that's something that just evolved over the years, and then I've more refined it with what you're saying with the power ranking. But we have three levels of play, B, which is the fun level, A, you're in the middle. I mean, all the leagues are for fun, but A, you're in the middle skill, and then intermediate, you know, it's a bump set spike pretty much 90% of the time, and the spikes can be hard.

You'll get a team that signs up for a league that doesn't want to be an intermediate because they want to win a game. They want to win the league. And depending on how well they play, we move them up. And I get some flack from the teams themselves when we move them up, but you don't get flack from the league. You know, a team at the end of, for example, in our winter season here, team was 18,

Sean (06:17.022)
eight weeks of volleyball. They're going from B to A because there's no reason for them to be in B and B. No pun intended. So I move them up. You create these rules and some teams will actually look at the rules and as long as they abide by them, here's your ranking.

or here's the percentage of wins that you have, and ours is 750 is the floor. So if you're over a 750 win rate, we can move you up. And then, you know, the more data you have to...

analyze to either move people up or move people down the better so the power ranking that you're talking about is the Number of points per game that a team wins by so if you're winning by five points a game You know you shouldn't really be in that league you're winning 21 to 16 on average You know through your games were you know the normal power ranking in a competitive league is less than two So the majority of the teams lay under two you'll have the teams that shouldn't be in the league

but they're in the league like if they're a minus four. I've had an intermediate team play on Tuesdays, an intermediate, and they have almost near winless seasons. And I call, I'll always ask the intermediate teams 95% of the times, hey, I'll ask you before I move you down, but they want to be in that level of play. Whether they exceed or not in it, they like to be in it. So.

By having competitive scheduling, you know, some other bar leagues, the team's going to come in, well, Johnny's team wins every summer. Well, because Johnny's team's playing in a league you shouldn't play in. And, you know, you're going to come here and you're not going to play.

Sean (07:52.814)
You're not going to play in B if you're in A-T unless you throttle down your wins and actually either purposely lose games or lose games as it goes on. And then another strong point that we have is the end of our season, we're pretty strong with our rosters here, probably known more than most about how we're strict on our rosters. And the end of the season, you know,

it's a bar, you want people to be here, you want people to play. And some players will come and play on a couple of teams a night and they'll do it regularly. Well if you're an intermediate player come playoff time.

you playing in a team when you're supposed to be an intermediate doesn't really work for the league. So come playoff time actually come the week before playoffs. You can only you can't sub. You have to pick one team and actually we monitor a roster, which is part of the reason why we came on with you guys trying to develop this league that you can only play on one team. If you get caught playing on two teams, you forfeit your games if you win it. And I won't catch that until the season's over. Um, and it's happened twice to where I

team just didn't, they weren't the champions anymore because a player played on both teams. But that promotes competitiveness. So in the, in the playoff time, if you're an intermediate player, you're most likely going to play intermediate. You're not going to play in that A team unless you want to play in the A team and, you know, help them win more. But competitive personalities want to play with competitive people, especially when it's tournament time. And so those two criteria were.

Lance (08:57.298)

Sean (09:21.73)
pretty strict on here and I don't know. I think it, I think, yeah, we might lose a team or two from it, but I think we gain more teams than we lose. And I think the majority of the league, you're never gonna make, when you have this many teams playing, you're never gonna make everybody happy. But you try to make the league happy. You know, if a team's not happy moving up, well, the other seven teams were happy they moved up, so.

Lance (09:30.853)

Lance (09:43.757)
Right. So you're willing to sometimes sacrifice a specific team for the good of the overall league moving them up or down. Yeah. Right.

Sean (09:51.842)
It's their sacrifice with how good their players are. So you know, you bring in, you're on a B team with an intermediate player that obviously is winning points for you guys more than a normal B team would, you're most likely going to move up because of one player. You know, it's just, it's just to compete, you know, make competitiveness in our leagues. And that's what I like. And I don't play in leagues and I always tell people, hey, I have no skin in the game when it comes to moving teams up or down.

Lance (10:05.661)

Sean (10:20.702)
I have skin in the game to make the leagues fair and competitive for everybody and that's my skin in it.

Lance (10:26.437)
Yeah. Well, you mentioned the teams going on a win streak and you see that they're in the wrong division. You'll move them up in the middle of a season to a different division?

Sean (10:38.21)
So with COVID, well before COVID we were doing it, but COVID I had more refined it. We do a competitive, We do one competitive break in a season. And so halfway through the season, like this winter season was.

practically 15 weeks. One league was 16, whatever. However, it goes with holidays and the 29th day gave an extra day to Tuesdays. halfway through the season. I'll schedule people halfway through the season. The entire season will not end, but it's called the competitive break. So after that eighth week, which was this past week, I still now have Sunday to do because they want one extra day because of Super Bowl, but...

I look at their standings and then I move the appropriate teams up and move the appropriate teams down halfway through the season. A little bit of an inconvenience with the volleyball league because now you only have half your season's schedule. Another thing I place in there is kind of a rule that I'll post the schedule two days before the schedule starts. So the reason why I do that, another thing I do which I didn't mention before is I'm lenient or I'm...

teams that need buys, I'll give it to them.

and then another team will play a double header or I'll give them a bye week. So typically in our fall and winter leagues, winter leagues teams will have two buys overbooked the leagues purposely. Um, so every league in every team in the league on a 24 night season will have two buys. Um, and some teams pick that like this time of year, it's spring break. And you know, probably a half of a dozen teams will say, Hey, I'd like the week of the 27th off, uh, for spring break. So we have buys in our season and I help schedule people

Sean (12:21.774)
around that and then I've kind of lost track of what the question was, because it kept going.

Lance (12:27.265)
All good, yeah, just the format of the season, moving teams up between divisions, you've got the competitive break, and that's what you need.

Sean (12:31.222)
Yeah. So when I did this competitive break, I wait till two days beforehand so teams can give me their by request or an earlier or late game. I balance. I try to balance as good as I can early and late games with teams. But like some teams will request a late game because parent teacher conferences, for an example, or they'll request an earlier game because it's somebody's birthday and they want to have a birthday party here for it. So.

another part of my leagues. I mean, I, you know, people that all have my cell phone numbers and like last night I got a text on a Sunday, Hey, we can't make a 9 50 game and you know, texted two teams, they couldn't make it. And I got another, one of the other two teams that came out and played the 9 50 game, I believe I haven't seen the standings, but you know, we get last minute teams that can't make it and they know to contact me and contact me and then I'll try to either get a team to play a double header or one of the Dubai teams to play. So There's time and effort when it comes to running, running this

Lance (13:24.344)

Sean (13:27.488)
league and you know I could schedule a whole league out and you know just let it play and then your dominant team is going to dominate for 15 weeks as opposed to dominate for eight weeks and then now you're going to be more of a everybody's at their same level or closer to the level of competitiveness which just You come to play volleyball you come to have fun you don't want to beat people up you don't want to get beaten up so

Lance (13:28.285)

Lance (13:50.801)
Yeah, okay, so you'll take adjust sort of midseason adjustments pretty seriously even to the degree of Giving your phone number out having you people text you which I imagine with you know a couple hundred teams You probably do get hit up a decent amount and that's just the work You're saying you just kind of have to put in to make the last minute Adjustments and find backup teams and make sure everybody consistently is playing and they're playing at a competitive level

Sean (14:15.254)
I have a captain's meeting beginning of the season every year and I say you guys pay me so you play volleyball. So when you come here to show up to play volleyball you're expecting another team to play there. So I give it, I mean obviously it's in the other captains, they have to tell me but.

is if they tell me I'm probably 90% good on finding a team to play in time. I mean, I found a 620 team when a captain text me at 530, you know, hey, the 620 game might start 10 minutes late, but, you know, I'm getting, I mean, to an extreme, I mean, sometimes we get them last minute. But, you know, I think people appreciate that too. You know, hey, you pay me to play volleyball, so I'm trying to get a team here to play volleyball for you. So.

Lance (14:51.602)

Lance (14:55.449)
Yeah. How do you, I mean, how do you reach out to, do you have a list of teams that you feel like are flexible, or do you just look at who's playing, like, around that time that can come fill in, or how do you find backup teams?

Sean (15:07.554)
I actually changed it this year, but it's hard. It's hard. If you could send out a blind text, like you can send out a blind email, and I haven't figured that one out yet, I would.

I would do a blind text, but I just start texting teams, the two that are nearest first, and say, hey, team 87 can't play tonight. Do you wanna play a double header at this time? Because a double header might be a six and a seven o'clock game, but the double header for them might be six and eight. But I start with the closest teams, and whoever answers me first gets the double header. And sometimes I don't get through enough texts to get a response for a team to say,

you know we can play now Apple and whatever if they can come up with a system where you can do a group text which may out maybe you'll figure it out with you guys I don't know I could be a thing in your system you know here's the A-league on Wednesday night hey who wants to play doubleheader cause team four can't make it you know and then whoever comes back in the chat fast enough you know I mean it's things that we're trying to develop which is what made me like

Lance (15:56.571)

Sean (16:10.774)
your what you guys are trying to develop to work with me because I've looked at this before like I told you and nobody's come close and you have you have so we just got to develop it to meet volleyball standards or at least what I do see how it works for me else.

Lance (16:15.857)
Yeah, yeah, and that's a good one. Yeah.

Lance (16:22.725)
Right, right. Yeah, we'll get there. So in terms of a mid, well, I guess one more following question is if you can't find a backup team, and so there's just going to be a forfeit and there's no one else to play, how do you handle that? Do you let the team know, hey, don't show up, I don't have somebody here for you? And then.

Sean (16:39.818)
Yep, that's what I do. I mean, like last night, I had to leave it with the refs because, I mean, the call was pretty close and I got ahold of it. The two teams got back to me relatively quickly and then I just couldn't get it. I don't know if it happened. I left it in the ref's hands to get one of the two teams to play before them to play the next game, but the two teams before them were in B-League.

And the next game was an A league. Now the exception for last night was one of the two B league teams is moving up to A. He didn't know it until the ref asked him last night, but it's 19 and two. And so you're moving up. It's, it's a no brainer. So you might as well play an A team. So I'm pretty sure the game happened last night. Um, but.

You know, it's just, here's a weird thing. I got a B league to play an A league team. And that happens sometimes. I'll cross the leagues, but usually the captains know it. I don't have to ask, there was an A league team for the 940 game. It was a B league team playing them. So I don't have to tell the 940 game, you know, it's a B league team playing you. But the B league teams need to be told, hey, you're gonna play an A team. And one of them's moving up. So I'm pretty sure it worked out. I just, I haven't seen it yet. So.

Lance (17:51.997)
Sure, sure. But if somebody doesn't get a game, do you do any kind of credits or refund or schedule an extra game or do you think any...or is it just kind of, hey, sorry, this happens sometimes?

Sean (18:02.85)
Yeah, it's basically a story that happens now. Every once in a while, the two teams will want to make up the game. Like I say, it's a competitive game and we'll let them do it. Like in the summertime, it's pretty easy. Winter and fall, it's almost impossible unless they want to do a nine or excuse me, a 1040 game, 1050 game. And that happened once this year.

Lance (18:08.654)

Sean (18:22.094)
But in the summertime, if a team can't make it and then they forfeit it, and then the forfeit... Long story short, if both teams want to redo the game, they can do it on an extra court without a ref. And then they just report back. Sometimes, the majority of the times, teams just take the forfeit and they just understand what's going on. It's just going to happen. But I try to minimize the forfeits as much as I can. We also even have a rule in our league. If you miss three games in a row, we'll pull you out of the league unless there's some kind of reasoning behind it.

Lance (18:51.558)

Sean (18:52.334)
The captain's actually will let me know before I even know, hey, these guys haven't been here in the last two weeks, they're gonna be here this week. And then I'll text him, hey, you gotta be here this week. Yeah, we didn't make it last week because of this and that. I'm like, well, why don't you call me? But whatever, it's just, or maintaining, everybody's different, so.

Lance (19:03.801)
Right, right.

Got it, yeah. So I guess that's the key. You're about differentiation and the way you focus so much. A lot of customer support it sounds like. I mean, people have your phone and they text you and you're making adjustments all the time and that creates this great experience. You're also focused on the facility itself and making sure, like you said, that it's all clean and feels new and nothing's run down and those kind of things. So I know this was kind of a long time ago, but you started off with, it sounds like with 18 teams and now you've grown quite a bit since then.

Was it all organic growth just from you focusing on that experience? Or did you ever do any advertising? Did you ever use social media? Or how did it grow on the back end from 100 to 200 teams? I think it was through social media. I grew like, through life.

Sean (19:47.246)
I think it just grew from word of mouth. Through the life of this business, I haven't done much advertising at all. I mean, I co-op with a radio station. It's more from a relationship than anything with one of the people that work at the radio station. But it's just, yeah, I don't advertise.

Lance (19:53.245)
I mean, I can hope I get the radio station. It's important. Mm.

Sean (20:08.022)
for the leagues. I mean, we obviously we use Facebook and that's really the only social media we use when we do have a Jesse Oaks volleyball private page now. I think it's like 1500 people are on it or 1400 people are on it. You may ask questions so we just don't let you in. You got to answer the questions and you know we try to monitor who's in it if you know just for whatever reason.

Lance (20:17.255)

Lance (20:26.013)

Lance (20:30.685)
How is that page used? What's the use of that page? Are people posting on it? Are you posting on it? And what type of content?

Sean (20:37.614)
Well on the top we say it's supposed to be positive content. If there's anything negative, you know, contact me on there. But it was originally created for, hey, we need a sub tonight. You know, put it out on the Jesse Yokes Facebook page, on the volleyball page, which used to be an open source. And then, you know, people would put their names out when.

players call me or people call me or email me all the time, hey, how can I get into volleyball? Even like, do you have a team or you are you an individual? We're a couple, we moved in the area. I said, well, do two things. I can email all the captains to say, hey, you guys looking for players? But I said, always do this first. And they never usually contact me after this. They say, go onto Facebook, get into our private Facebook page and say, hey, you know what, we're, and tell them what level player you are and what night you're looking to play. Most likely you'll find a volleyball team. Another thing we do is on weekends in the wintertime,

Lance (21:25.053)

Sean (21:29.272)
is you pay to do it but it's open volleyball, it's pickups, that's on Sunday morning and it starts in October and goes through April. You can only take 29 people because the 30th person runs it and I say sign up and play in the pickups because now you're gonna be playing with people that are volleyball, savvy, they love volleyball, they're here to play volleyball and you know they've already played three nights a week and now they're playing pickups. Good people to meet because then they'll know teams that look for people so people get into pickup games or even in the summertime.

Lance (21:55.901)

Sean (22:00.112)
We went back and forth with charging people to be on our courts and stuff in the summertime. They're not charging them. The problem is people think I'm a park. Bring their own food and they want to bring their own drinks. Well, go to a park. Don't do it here. But it's a good way to meet the volleyball community that's here. It was on Facebook and then obviously trying to pick up these pickups on the weekends in the wintertime. We'll have them on Saturdays if we don't have events in the building.

Lance (22:10.109)
Ha ha ha, yeah.

Sean (22:25.514)
And like yesterday it was warm out, so we had outside and inside pick up volleyball. So like 50.

Lance (22:31.837)
I feel like that goes really well. Like it integrates with the league a lot. A lot of teams come out of the pickup and end up forming and playing in the league.

Sean (22:40.606)
Yeah, the, it's, you know, it's funny, because I, every Wednesday, usually like clockwork, I'll, I miss some Wednesdays, I post, everyone signs up online, kind of like sign up with you guys, and I, I won't, I'll fix the online in the back office of the jessieoaks.com, back office or whatever.

put the 29 teams and then I'll email everybody. Before I even email, people are watching me and I'll see an email for one or two people signing up and then I think they have a chain because it fills up in sometimes minutes, you know, if not within an hour or a few hours. And if I have a Saturday one, that one might take a day or two, but they fill up and like this past week, I set up the back office.

Lance (23:14.449)

Sean (23:27.03)
And you know, here's 29 people going up and then somebody came in my office, kinda like me missing our first meeting today. And I came back, hour and a half later, it was full. And I haven't emailed anybody yet to tell them. And I built the emails this year, I didn't leave, I think I, I don't think I had any from last year. And I started it from scratch, or maybe I started with last year, but.

Either way, there's 30 teams that play and I got 250. Every time somebody new comes in there, I'll add them to the email list. Now it's up to like 250 players will get that email for 29 spots when they play volleyball. So it's good, as I said, going with your original question, it's a good way to network and meet volleyball players, especially when people move in from out of town or wanna try something new. So.

Lance (24:00.774)

Lance (24:11.453)
Sure. Yeah. Sweet. That all makes sense. So how do you think then about staffing, the staffing side of it? So finding the right people, training, retaining, motivating, paying, just the whole cycle of having a good staff out there, because you're not out there every night, and I'm sure running things. So how did that evolve? How do you think about it?

Sean (24:34.542)
Probably for over 20 years, because I don't play volleyball. I used to. Great school. And they offer in high school. But I've always had people, I call them my league directors. And this goes back to probably 2001 or 2002. And three people came and ran it, and then there was another guy that ran it. And then I've had like probably five different people running it, maybe four. I'd have to go back through my head.

But I have a league director so my current league director schedules the refs Works with the rest for rules. You know me and him are in cahoots with it So he handles the refs and then he handles like rules interpretation because he's on the courts And you know I can rough games, and I've done it in the past, but I never consistently did it I have like a liaison that does that stuff for me

Sean (25:29.898)
With the referees, I've started probably within the last couple of years. Now I'm getting high school kids as referees. And the high school kids, the nice thing about them, it's like a stepping stool. It's just like with servers here. Here you are, you're in authority position with an adult and you're still a teenager.

and you know some have problems with it some don't because there's very competitive people out there that will voice their opinions and we have rules you know hey if you have a problem with the ref you know you need to tell us if they're doing something wrong we don't know how to fix it unless you tell us but either way uh...

it seems like we're getting high school, like juniors and seniors kids to ref and then they come on and they'll ref, like in our summer season, we need five refs in a night or in the winter season, we need two because we have two courts. So in the summer, it's great to have these kids. And then these high school kids become college kids that wanna ref for us. And...

Sean (26:32.446)
I'm trying to think. Long-term refs, Mario's been with me quite a few years now and there's been a couple of refs that come back and forth and ref and...

He's liaising. I mean, people that are in the league also want to ref. And then all of a sudden, their kids get old enough. We've been in business long enough to, I've seen a, here's a couple of me, they have the kid, now the kid comes to the bar. I mean, that's how, we've been in business, it'll be 28 years in April. So I've seen that with volleyball too. Here's the parents, they met, they had a kid, now their kid's playing volleyball. There's a pair of parents here that their kid actually ref'd for me this last year.

Lance (26:47.941)

Lance (26:57.158)

Sean (27:10.878)
in the summertime for their college. So, the quality of refs, I mean, they're kids, and this is bar volleyball, so it's not, I'm not paying, if you want me to pay and get like a sanctioned ref, then your league fees are probably gonna triple, because the ref fee, now you're talking from a 15, 20 an hour, dollar an hour ref to a 45 dollar an hour ref.

if you want your game, but it's bar volleyball. You know, here's the interpretation rules. At the end of the season, you want to get your certificate and a T-shirt. Now, we also you win a sweatshirt if you win the league and the tournament. And it's like a coveted sweatshirt, you know, people count how many sweatshirts they've gotten through their season or if they haven't gotten any. I was talking to a girl yesterday.

Lance (27:49.435)

Lance (27:52.569)
Really? Is that for every division or is that just the top division that wins gets that?

Sean (27:57.418)
It's so in a there's three divisions in a night six nights of play. So if you win them both, there'd be 18 different sweatshirt team winners. If all if all 18 teams won them both. But usually about I'd say it's around 10. Ten teams on average win both. So 10 sets of sweatshirts go out and then 10 sets of, you know, T-shirts for league and then T-shirts for tournament go out.

Lance (28:06.525)
Thanks for watching!

Lance (28:24.773)
Yeah, yeah. And you mentioned a gift certificate as well for winners. How did you think about that?

Sean (28:30.659)
We, you know, it's just you got to give them something. They got to play for something. So we've always, it used to be paper certificates. And then with technology, you know, we have the toast POS system. So now we give them.

an email. So it's an e-gift certificate. I compile all this stuff in a spreadsheet and then I go downstairs and put them all in manually in the computer because it's got to generate the credit card number which is in the e-thing. So they get it and then their gift certificate is valid for food and drink until the next season is over. It's not valid for money. Cash leagues create competitiveness.

Lance (28:44.049)

Sean (29:06.878)
So if you want really competitive leagues, then you offer cash. And I haven't done that in a long time. And actually, last summer, we. Dabbled with men's four league, which we're going to do it this summer and just call it a four leagues, a fours league. And, you know, I know the original four teams will come back, but I offered it to everybody and we'll see how many people sign up for cash. But gift certificate and sweatshirts or gift certificate and t-shirts are, you know, what you want if you win the league, because I'm basically.

Lance (29:34.259)
Yeah. How much value are those versus the league fee? Is it 20 bucks of value per person, or is it more or less?

Sean (29:43.202)
Well, depending on the night you play. So like Sundays here is $150 for the league. And that's, I mean, I, it costs me money to run the league on Sundays where Mondays is $250 to $300, depending on the season. And then Tuesday through Friday is $350 to $400 per season. If you win the league, you win $150 gift certificate. You win the tournament, you win $150 gift certificate. You come in second place, you get a $50 gift certificate. And then you get the t-shirts and sweatshirts.

Lance (30:09.725)

Sean (30:13.31)
So it's more of a status that I want it. And you go around this county and I'll see Jesse Oak's sweatshirt, because obviously we've been giving away for probably close to 15 years. And you see him, there's another Jesse Oak's sweatshirt, there's another one. So it's advertising, and you don't even mean it to be advertising.

Lance (30:16.465)

Lance (30:21.693)

Lance (30:31.853)
Yeah, makes sense. Okay, I think we have a couple more questions. You sort of touched on this, but how do you think about player feedback and incorporating, what do you do with the feedback? Is it something like every season where you kind of regroup and say, what went well, what didn't? Or, I mean, you've been doing this for a while. I'm sure there's been a lot of iteration cycles, but yeah, how do you think about player feedback?

Sean (30:54.626)
Well, we've been doing it a while, so before every season I talk to Mario. Mario is my league director, so hey, anything we need to add to the rules. Or anything we need to change in the rules. And then we'll go over that.

you know so that happens three times a year and that then and then discussions from what you're asking is will get emails and i was it's a statement captain's meeting i'd you know i'm open you guys got my cell phone number you got my email any suggestions on the bar it's that's like a double-edged sword because everybody can everybody knows how to run a bar but like i said for a kid

fixing unless I know it's broke. If you have any suggestions let me know. So based on what Mario has heard and what you know I've maybe seen through emails because I get all the emails all season long we'll make adjustments to the rules. So it's the player feedback or the captain's feedback. You know we're very open to it and that's why you know everybody's got my cell phone number. The majority of people that contact me will be in a text.

some people call but I'll get an email or a text you know about something somebody's concerned about like somebody emailed me about why they're when you move up from B to A or A to intermediate I reset your standings because if you were 15 and all just throwing out a number 15 and oh now you went to A and you only win half your games you can still

You can still win the league and I said that's not fair moving down. I'm not gonna touch your standings moving up I'm gonna touch your standings because it's not fair You know most teams that some teams that play in the wrong leagues because those and how do you defend against this? All the a spots for Phil they don't want to go in intermediate. So they're gonna go into B, you know when they're

Sean (32:40.63)
truly an A team and then they're gonna move up. Well, they're gonna be in the league they didn't wanna be in and I reset their standing. So that's feedback. That might not have been as much feedback from players, but there's just things that I've done through the years. The power ranking. Well, how do you make this decision on moving us up? Well, power ranking made it even easier for me. You beat teams by, look at the whole league. Most of the league is anywhere from minus two points above two points, which means they're losing by two points in a game.

you're winning by five, you're winning by eight. It's a no-brainer to movie up. So the power of information with these guys. Like transparency is another thing with my scheduling. I mean, I don't know how much transparency there is with the app with you guys, but.

When I build out the schedules, all that, there's tabs. It's in an Excel spreadsheet. Here's the tabs of the first competitive break, the second competitive break. Here's how it started. So I, oh, Sean went in and changed it. No, Sean doesn't change anything. So I make it transparent so I don't get negative feedback. And same with the standings. I can see all the data. Here's all the data. Here's every night of all your data going in. Pretty sure you guys will be the same way with that.

So everything's transparent. And on that I probably got, that I got to not get negative comments from people. So yeah, you want comments from people, but you wanna avoid any negative comments. You and Mario think, how do you avoid all that stuff? And then here's ways to make it better. Whatever you do, with so many teams, you're never gonna make everybody happy because there's always gonna be somebody not happy. But that's human beings, that's just life.

Lance (34:03.75)
Yeah, get out of hell. Yeah.

Lance (34:19.75)

Sean (34:19.918)
If everything was perfect in this planet, we would probably want to live here. Everything was a shiny happy day or it would get boring.

Lance (34:23.789)
Oh, yeah.

Right, yeah. Okay, great. So last question, kind of broad, open-ended, but how do you see this space evolving over time, I guess for your leagues or more broadly, and do you have kind of any personal ambitions for what the next few years looks like for kind of what you're doing?

Sean (34:44.99)
Um, well, I've been doing this a long time, so my, I haven't delegated, I've delegated through the years, but now I like to delegate more. The volleyball thing will be a hard thing to delegate, because they're, you know, I mean, I travel a lot, and, you know, with this thing and traveling, I can still run the volleyball leagues. Mario can probably do what I'm doing now, it's just having all the data at your point.

Lance (34:48.23)

Sean (35:14.786)
Being receptive to the leagues is what, you know, the day that you think, oh, they're customers, don't worry about them, and I think that's the day your leagues will start going down. I mean, you gotta take care of the customers. I mean, me even saying that, well, Sean doesn't take care of them. I mean, you're never gonna make everybody happy going back to that. You know, with volleyball.

courts, you know, you keep them, you know, every other year I add sand to the courts, you know, they wash away or whatever. A few years ago, I actually cleaned the inside courts. It's an expensive deal. They come through kind of like when you're in Florida and they're cleaning all the stuff out of a, oh, they came back and they did it in there. And I might do that this fall season. But, you know, we rake our courts every day. You know, if the tractor breaks, people, and next thing you know, I know, I mean, I know the tractor broke, but they'll let me know that, hey, the courts are getting hard. So.

just gotta keep making your place, you gotta maintain your place, you gotta make it nice, you gotta, you know, my next big thing is to possibly make the Lodge bigger so then I can have more indoor volleyball courts. Because I fill up the league so fast.

You know, there's other places that maybe eventually you'll build a volleyball venue like mine. I know the building I built now would probably cost four times what it cost me to build it back in 2000. When I started the permitting product, it took me a year to get the permit for that building. And to do an addition would be a lot cheaper than obviously building a whole brand new one.

Lance (36:32.076)

Sean (36:44.934)
I probably not this year, but next year I might start looking at expanding that building to another volleyball court or two. If I do that, I'll have to put another couple of outdoor volleyball courts, which I have the space for. It's just it's a lot of work to build a building in this county and you know, for good reason. I mean, you got to get permits and studies and it's costly. It's very costly to do. It's a big investment. But you know.

Lance (37:01.157)

Sean (37:14.098)
That's a possibility to grow my winter and fall leagues, because I can't grow them anymore. I mean, I've tweaked as many teams as I can get in the fall, because fall half the season, people can still play outside. So I tweaked the numbers up. That's how I got to 160 plus number. And I just got to make sure, like the buys, there's no more than two buys in a season for the winter and the fall. And you just got to keep at it.

Lance (37:26.589)

Lance (37:41.233)
Yep, yeah, makes sense. Awesome, I think that's all I got. Thanks, Sean. Really appreciate your time and your insights.

Sean (37:49.51)
I look forward to working with you guys. It would be nice to, you know, the app, having the app would reduce the workload for some of the things that we do. And obviously, you know, as I said, I've been looking for technology for years now. I mean...

look up something out and it's not gonna work. And then just like when I talked to you the first time, I said, you guys are the closest that I've seen to get to what I want. And that was the big thing is rosters, because I always said how we're strict with rosters and we're working through the kinks of that with the way we work. And it's funny because everybody thinks, oh, you know, just change in the background. Well, you know.

Lance (38:19.075)
the case.

Sean (38:25.79)
you know as well as I do it just it yeah it's data basing and it's this and that but there's when you change one thing you might change three other things and now it doesn't work right I mean it's not it's not hard it's not hard it's not easy it's just it's work and it takes a little bit to develop it if we get to sap out the summer you know it'll be I'm sure we'll have bugs in it you know and then we'll perfect it but even when it's perfected it's still never perfect keep making it better

Lance (38:50.897)
Sure. Yep.

Sean (38:52.386)
I mean, nothing's ever, you can always make it better and it can always get worse. So, just like the volleyball, it's the last question you ask me. You always want to make it, strive to be better. Be the best you can be. You can't be the best, be the best you can be, so.

Lance (39:05.469)
Yeah, yeah, totally. Awesome, thanks Sean.

Sean (39:08.507)
Alright, thanks Lance.


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