Soccer & Gymnastics. As an outsider, these seem like entirely different sports that require entirely different skills.
But, in Green Bay, these two sports are more intertwined than you might think.
Sisters Bri and Skylar Prentice have always been close, and were both involved in multiple sports, including gymnastics and soccer, growing up. Today, they’re both coaching young soccer and gymnastics athletes at nearby performance facilities.
Following her gymnastics career, Bri couldn’t stay away from the gym. When her coach, Jon Hovda, opened SAGA Sports, Bri started coaching. Today, she is the Recreational Program Manager and Coach at the state-of-the-art gymnastics facility, managing the various recreational gymnastics, tumbling, water skiing, and ninja programs.
As Skylar was preparing to play collegiate soccer, she got connected with Mackenzie August and her team that is now MacRoc Athletic Development Center, a data-driven soccer performance facility. After training at the facility for a few years, she joined the coaching staff. As both a gymnast and soccer player, she now coaches both sports, splitting her time between MacRoc ADC and SAGA Sports.
This sparked an idea.
Together, Bri and Skylar, as well as their sister Morgan, are organizing a day-long crossover camp for kids in the Green Bay area. The event, Kicks & Flips, will provide an opportunity for young athletes to gain exposure to both the MacRoc and SAGA Sports facilities, equipment, and the respective sports.
For more information or to register for the event, click here.
Kicks & Flips: What inspired a soccer/ gymnastics crossover event?
The main goal of Kicks & Flips boils down to exposure: from exposing athletes to the different sports to exposing the community to each small business.
“It was just an idea in my head about how I can connect the two worlds and also promote two small businesses in Green Bay,” said Skylar. “I came to my sister one day and said ‘hey, it would be fun if we did a split summer camp where we spend half the day at MacRoc and half the day at SAGA.’ We’ve been working really closely on how it’s going to work, even how it’s going to work on Upper Hand.”
So, with the inspiration in place, Bri & Skylar got to work figuring out the logistics to bring this idea to life. This started with outlining their goals for the event.
Goal #1: Give athletes exposure to different sports
Kicks & Flips was designed to introduce young athletes to both soccer and gymnastics. During each activity throughout the day, Skylar, Bri, and their staff will teach the kids about each of the sports, as well as the equipment and technology that is available to help them train.
“One of our goals is to get the SAGA Sports clients introduced to MacRoc and vice versa, and provide a really fun day for the kids,” said Bri. “At MacRoc in the morning, they will learn about the equipment and tools they have for learning soccer, play some games and play with the equipment. Then, after lunch, we’ll end our day at SAGA and play in the gym, introducing some of the kids that have never been to gymnastics before to our equipment as well.”
Skylar also points out that even though the skills may be different, there are more similarities than you might think: “Both sports taught me how to be disciplined, taught me time management, taught me mental toughness, and taught me respect for my coach.”
Goal #2: Expose the community to the different businesses
In addition to the benefits this event will have on the athletes themselves, there are also added benefits for both SAGA Sports and MacRoc; namely, exposure to new clientele.
“Through this event, we’re letting parents know that these facilities exist, and are giving families more ideas about what’s in the area as far as learning different sports, or having something fun to do,” said Bri.
Located in neighboring towns, MacRoc and SAGA Sports serve a similar demographic and are accessible to similar neighborhoods. But, Bri and Skylar have found that while there is some overlap in both facilities, there is still a lot of untapped potential when it comes to expanding the visibility and awareness of each facility.
“I know there are a few athletes that come to MacRoc that I see at SAGA Sports,” said Skylar. “And, some athletes I coach at SAGA have a sibling that trains at MacRoc. So, there’s a little bit of overlap, but this event will be a good way to get new people in the door for both ends. We’re in the backyard of many peoples’ houses and schools, so we want to show them that we’re here and want to work with them.”
From idea to reality
With an idea in place, Bri and Skylar’s next challenge was to work through the logistics of Kicks & Flips, including finalizing the agenda, coordinating the appropriate staff, setting up the event registration, and event marketing. In addition, they also looped in their sister, Morgan, who works on the financial side of SAGA Sports.
“We’ve appreciated her voice and reason on the back-end side of things, as far as payments, our expenses, and the planning as a whole,” said Bri. “So, the three of us have been tackling this event together to make it a success.”
Setting an agenda
The first step the Prentice sisters took was setting up a more concrete agenda for the day. With no age limit, and a wide range of experience levels across each sport, the MacRoc and SAGA Sports teams had to build programming that would cater to these differences. So, they are leveraging the experiences of their staff members to build out the activities.
As the event name suggests, Kicks & Flips will start with some “kicks,” where MacRoc coaches have planned both indoor and outdoor activities that will give campers a taste of soccer training. They will be introducing the kids to the equipment available at MacRoc, running through some soccer drills, and learning how to play the game.
Following a stop at a nearby restaurant for lunch, the campers will then make their way to SAGA Sports for some “flips.” The SAGA Sports coaches will be introducing campers to the trampolines, foam pit, and other gymnastics equipment, so campers can experience what it’s like to train at the gym.
“Since the activities are so different, there’s not going to be a whole lot of overlap, so the kids won’t be doing the same activities at both facilities,” said Skylar. “So, I worked with MacRoc to set up some activities for them there, and Bri worked with her staff on the SAGA Sports side.”
Another detail to work out included ensuring that the appropriate staff is available to help run the day’s activities.
While Skylar and Bri will both be present the entire day, they are relying on their staff to help support the day’s activities at each location. The MacRoc staff will be staffing the MacRoc portion of Kicks & Flips, and the SAGA Sports staff will be on site to staff the SAGA portion of the camp. “This ensures that the coaches that are experienced in the sport will be teaching it,” said Bri.
Not to mention, this also helps them begin to build rapport with the athletes who may be a good fit for other classes or lessons in the future.
Creating the event registration
Skylar and Bri thought through a number of ways to set up the camp registration. But, they settled on running the registration through SAGA Sports’s Upper Hand account.
“We had kind of gone back and forth about what direction we should take as far as the registration portion of it since we both use Upper Hand,” said Bri. “We decided to run the event through SAGA Sports’s Upper Hand account and add MacRoc as a staff member on the account. So, even though it’s on our account, anytime anyone registers, MacRoc also gets an email showing that registration.”
Additionally, this helps streamline the day-of check-in process. Bri adds that “on the day of the event, we’ll be able to pull up that list of the attendees and we’ll be able to check them in, you know, whether it’s us pulling it up as SAGA, the one who made the Registration event, or MacRoc pulling it up as a staff member for the event.”
Bri and Skylar have also been collaborating on the promotion of Kicks & Flips, so that the same message and information is shared across each business’s clientele.
“We have both helped create graphics and videos,” said Skylar. “We’ve also FaceTimed to post on our social media accounts at the same time. Also, we make sure we share each others’ profiles and links when we post and on our websites.”
With the event being run through SAGA Sports’s Upper Hand account, Skylar has been very intentional about promoting the event to the MacRoc athletes. Luckily, this has been a seamless process. Since Upper Hand utilizes unique URLs for each event, Skylar is easily able to promote the signup link on their own social media platforms and their website.
“We put the link on our website as well, and if they click on the link, it will bring them to the event registration on SAGA’s Upper Hand account,” said Skylar.
The beginnings of a longstanding partnership
Kicks & Flips is the first collaborative event that SAGA Sports and MacRoc have hosted. But, Bri and Skylar have plans to continue partnering on future events.
“This is the first event we’ve collaborated on. Hopefully there will be more in the future. I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback so far from parents, and we’ve had a lot of interest,” said Skylar. “So, if it all goes as well as we anticipate, then we’d like to make it an annual event.”
Get to know each partnering business
MacRoc Athletic Development Center
MacRoc Athletic Development Center is a data-driven soccer performance facility that specializes in player development. Founded in 2015, MacRoc started in the trunk of Mackenzie August’s car, where she traveled throughout the Green Bay area to train soccer athletes. Come the winter months, Mackenzie noticed a need for indoor turf space for soccer athletes to continue training throughout Wisconsin winters.
Today, MacRoc operates out of a brand new, state of the art training facility, where its growing staff of talented soccer coaches and staff members offer lessons and camps to athletes of all levels and abilities.
“We focus on athlete development, whether that be like mental preparation, first touch, shooting, or passing. We do a lot of individual training, and have our facilities split up into areas that work on different skills.”
Whether they are just learning the game or are preparing to play collegiately, MacRoc has invested heavily in data and technology to help athletes get to the next level. It is also the first and only facility in Wisconsin to give its members access to a variety of technologies such as a Senaptec Sensory Station, a Toca Touch Trainer, Elite Skills Arena Fast Feet and Icon, and a Precision Wall.
Experience with Upper Hand
MacRoc first found Upper Hand in 2018, when they were looking for a software to help manage their growing business. Years later, they can’t imagine their lives without it.
“If we didn’t have Upper Hand, we would be losing our minds,” said Skylar. “In terms of scheduling, it’s not like people are just booking with one coach. We have a whole facility with 5 or 6 things going on at a time. We’ve also grown to 14 coaches. It’s been pretty easy and user friendly for our clients and our staff to use.”
Skylar also says that “it’s been interesting to see how SAGA Sports has set up their Upper Hand account and how they run their events. They’ve set things up a little bit differently than we do here at MacRoc, but we’re always bouncing ideas off of each other.”
About SAGA Sports
SAGA Sports is a state-of-the-art gymnastics facility located in Suamico, Wisconsin. Founded by Owner and Coach Jon Hovda in 2008, SAGA Sports offers recreational and competitive team gymnastics training, tumbling, ninja warrior, and waterskiing classes. They cater their classes to all ages, ranging from 3 year olds in Parent-Tot classes up to seniors in high school.
“We’ve had a lot of kids that started off with us at our preschool program, and now they’re competing as a Level 8 or Level 9,” said Bri. “We love the longevity of our gymnasts and keeping those relationships with the parents as their kids grow with us.”
The facility features state-of-the-art equipment that helps its athletes improve their strength, coordination, flexibility, and balance, including all gymnastics apparatus, in-ground trampolines, an in-ground tumble track, and in-ground foam pit, warped wall, and a rock wall.
Experience with Upper Hand
SAGA Sports was referred to Upper Hand by MacRoc. Up until a few years ago, SAGA Sports was running entirely on paper: from registrations and attendance to tracking payments.
“We decided it was time to adapt with the times and go digital,” said Bri. “We were looking around for different online registration software, and Skylar, who was working at MacRoc, suggested Upper Hand because that’s what they used.”
So, Skylar was able to give the SAGA Sports team a tutorial on how the software worked, both on the client and management side of things. Then, the team set up the call to walk through a demo with Upper Hand. Since making the switch, they have been able to digitize their business.
“Before, SAGA Sports was doing it all by hand,” said Skylar. “Now, we don’t have to count how many people are in the classes to make sure there’s room, it’s all just right there. And, instead of a parent calling you to ask if they can get into a class, they can just do it all from home. I think parents are more willing to do that than pick up the phone and call.”