May 6, 2020

Heather Mitts — Empowering the Next-Gen of Soccer Stars as a 3x-Olympic Gold Medalist

Heather Mitts — Empowering the Next-Gen of Soccer Stars as a 3x-Olympic Gold Medalist

3-time Olympic gold medalist and former member of the US Women's National Team Heather Mitts joins The Game Plan to cover everything from what it takes to have the heart of a champion to the transition of life after professional soccer.

3-time Olympic gold medalist and former member of the US Women's National Team Heather Mitts joins The Game Plan to cover everything from what it takes to have the heart of a champion to the transition of life after professional soccer.

Listeners will enjoy hearing how Heather first started her career in media from sideline reporter to studio analyst, overcoming her injuries and adversity, and what it was like to be a key part of the evolution of professional women's soccer in the USA.

Heather also shares her entrepreneurial journey and excitement for what's in store with her company Ceres Platinum Group, as well as the challenges of building a business while raising her 3 young kids

Make sure to follow Heather on both Twitter and Instagram to keep up with his all moves off the pitch.

Follow co-hosts Jay Kapoor (@JayKapoorNYC) and Tim Katt (@Tim_Katt) for all things sports, media, tech, and venture capital.

Follow The Game Plan on Twitter (@thegameplanshow) and Instagram (@gameplanshow) for show news and updates, to recommend guests, and for bonus content!


Transcript

*Please excuse any and all typos, errors and mistakes in the following transcript as an automated service is used to generate this text*

But, you know, my son started playing soccer and it was just so funny for me to like be there cause I'm like, what am I going to be like? How's this going to be like, what's this dynamic going to be like for me? And I just had to sit back and I told him right before the game, I said, honor, you know, the only thing that I ask of you today is that you give it your all buddy.

And afterwards, you know, he was so proud of himself. I said, did you empty the tank today? And he said, I did mommy. Like that for me is like no matter what, like whether he plays awful, but whether it plays great as long as out there, he's having fun and he's given it as all like, that's all you could ask as a parent. 

 

Hi, I'm Heather Mitts and I'm from Cincinnati, Ohio. I've played for the us women's national team and won three Olympic gold medals and one world cup. I started a business called Sarah's platinum. I am a mom of three and I am so excited to be on the game plan.

We've had Olympians on the game plan before, but none with the amount of hardware. As our next guest today, we are excited to welcome three time Olympic gold medalist when the us women's national team, serial entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and mother of three Heather mitts. Heather, thank you so much for joining us on the game plan.

Thanks for having me on you guys. I think it's great that you have this opportunity for us to be able to share. what we've learned through our playing days with the future athletes and entrepreneurs.

Yeah. Heather, it's great having you. , I think we'll start by saying, you know, the women's game has evolved tremendously, and especially during your playing career. Looked back, you played for five different professional organizations, not just teams, but the w league, WSA, women's professional soccer and so on.

What was your experience like as a professional athlete? Especially not even knowing if the team you played for the league you played in would be around the following year.

Yeah, it was a lot of ups and downs. I consider myself very fortunate because I loved what I did. So I never consider it really a a job, I was lucky that there were so many opportunities out there and even though some of them didn't last, you know, something else was able to come up in its place.

, I definitely felt like I came up at the right time because I graduated college. I was going to go back and get my masters and sports broadcasting. And it just so happened that the women had just won the 99 world cup and we had our first women's professional league. So I thought I would go and maybe play for maybe a year or two and they go back and get my masters.

But luckily I was able to, have this really lengthy, amazing, , fun career, traveled the world, playing with my best friends, and. You know, I have to pinch myself every day that I was able to do that.

Yeah. And what was it like going back and forth between your experience on the professional teams here in the U S to the us women's national team, the Olympic team? I imagine the setup and experience was quite different.

Oh, yeah. That was always, . Very interesting to kind of see. I got really spoiled cause I went to university of Florida and everything was like top notch. So even from going from that to most of the professional leagues, , but at the same time I kind of already mentioned it. You know, when you're passionate about something, all those things don't matter.

So yes, it's nice, but I don't think that, , you need to have them to, you know, make the most of what you're trying to accomplish on the field. You know, playing a sport that you love. And that's being able to plan in front of fans and connect with the fans and hopefully have a very lengthy and positive career.

So if anything, it made me appreciate even more what you know, it meant to get to the very top.

Yeah, and I know a lot of attention, especially recently with, with sort of this recent team of players on the women's national team, a lot of attention has been played to some of the plane conditions for the men's team versus the women's team. Just the experiences that the men's team versus the women's team has had, especially relative to the success and you know, the experience that you've had.

, from that perspective, you know, what do you feel like has been, , you know, , the, the biggest barrier to overcome for the women's team? Just from your experience playing to obviously now following the game , , as a, as a media analyst or just being a fan of the game today.

Yeah. I mean, obviously, , we have. Had a lot of success, you know, and we continue to, and that's the one thing is like, no matter what, we're going to do our job on the field. And I think more than anything now we have the popularity that goes with everything else that we didn't, compared to the men.

But naturally it's, you know, the same. So I think that when it comes down to the equal pay, I think that the women definitely deserve what the men are getting. And I do believe that they deserve the same plane conditions, because that really does make a huge difference. , and I hope that they get it not only from like a playing standpoint and in the style of, of soccer that you're playing on the field for the fans to enjoy it, but it's also about like, you know, sustaining more injuries and,

how long are you going to be able to play? Cause yeah, the field conditions really do matter down the road.

So, so looking at your decision to retire from the women's network. The team in 2013 and you know, even the club teams. What really got you thinking about life after soccer and was there a particular moment where you started to think about life after the game and what you were going to do next?

Well, I guess I was very fortunate because. I had a lot of injuries throughout my playing career and as I had mentioned, I was going to get my master's in sport, broadcast it before I knew I was going to continue playing. So I kinda had my foot in the door from a TV perspective, 

and so I always kind of knew in the back of my head that that was something that I wanted to do. And unfortunately. Whenever I had injuries, which happened more than I would have liked or I didn't make a major event, , I would have the opportunity to cover those events.

So I actually covered like the, the world cup one year, , when I was playing and then post, post playing, I was able to do that as well. , but it was always something that I love. , I don't think that I realized. Everything that went into it, you know, til I was actually done. And once I had kids, I think everything kind of changed for me because I realized I didn't want to be traveling all around and be away from them.

I knew I wanted to be home more, so that kind of changed my role, but I was happy that I at least had my foot in the door and was able to continue to do the broadcasting 

I'm sure the exposure you got on the women's national team helped get your foot in the door for some of those broadcast opportunities. But at the same time, like you still have to be skilled, you still have to be talented and, and show a commitment to it. So what was that process like for you? You know, what was kind of some of the key moments that gave you, or that you remember that were like, opportunities you had, that you took advantage of in order to start doing that kind of work?

A huge one. , I had never done college football and they called me out of the blue. I hadn't even done much TV period. And the only TV that I had done was colored soccer. , and so they called and asked if I would do, I would do sideline for college football. And. That was like, I don't have any experience.

Like, why are they calling me? This is crazy. But at the same time, I thought, I might not ever get this opportunity again. So I took it and it's kind of, it's sink or swim, you know? It's like you got to figure it out on, on, on the go, on the fly. , and you try to get as much coaching as you can. Obviously as an athlete,  , I'm very critical of myself.

I go back and I watch film. I, fringe when I hear my voice, but I also think that that's how I'm going to get better. You know, it's being very overly , critical of yourself and always trying to get the best coaching and, you know, learn as much as you possibly can to make sure that you just don't say anything really stupid on there.

I think most people, most students, especially student athletes who went to a big time sec school, are probably qualified also to talk about college football since it's such a part of the DNA down there. So I'm sure that didn't hurt either.

It's awesome. My husband, my husband, played a house a little bit. Yeah,

There you go. You can, you can come and get some of the nuances of the game down, back home. Right. That, that's always a nice thing to be able to do.

yeah.

 so speaking to that point, who were some of the players, whether players that you played with or even, you know, outside of the game that were already in media that you reached out to in making that transition.

Who were the most helpful folks to you as you were thinking about making that transition to something new after the game?

Yeah. It's, it's bizarre because I, when you asked that question, I wish there was more people than I did. I did reach out to, I think Julie Foudy was obviously , somebody that I had played with, , who I thought the world of, and I thought she did an amazing job. , I wish I would've reached out to more people to ask for more advice.

I think that that's one of those things that, , every athlete should do. I think we're very prideful, you know, and a lot of men don't like to ask for help. , so I think if there's one thing that everybody should learn from hearing me speak, is just to not be afraid to ask for advice.

Yeah. Yeah. And I guess to that point, another thing that we tend to see with a lot of athletes is, you know, that sense of, of I guess, three pillars that we find that a lot of athletes have, which is. Team routine and a sense of competition. And we hear that from a lot of folks that they have this every single day from, when they're seven or eight, when they first start playing their sport and then all of a sudden it's gone one day.

so as you think about those things as part of your life team, routine and competition, how are you able to fill these, , as you left the game and you know, started on your new adventures.

Yeah, I mean, I definitely think that that's probably the hardest thing, , when you do leave the sport is you have the sense of like. A feeling of loss because you're so used to having those things in your life. Then all of a sudden, just one day they're gone. So, , you kind of have to create a new one.

And, you know, my team has now my family, my routine. basically, because,  kids, they thrive with the routine. , we all have a routine, you know, it basically more focuses around them more so, but then I have to fit in my self care and my time in there. And I realized more than anything, that the way that I release my stress and the way that, you know, the things that make me happy, besides my family is still working out.

It's being an athlete, you know, it's getting exercise. And so I. Make sure to fit that into my day. Like it's a must. It has to be there. My day is kind of revolve around that. And then obviously, , you know, I'm trying to do a little bit of work, so my, my baby takes two naps still. So as far as you know, we're on call right now.

During that time. So a lot of times I will fit like the work in between when, when those naps are, so, you know, it's all about scheduling, , and being meticulous and repetition. , and then as far as the competition is concerned, , I do CrossFit because I found that that. The one thing that kind of like helps me to still compete and to push myself and to elevate.

, and then sometimes I'll do like races and little fun things like that just to kind of like, you know, have something to work towards. Cause I think you need that and it's not just being an athlete. I think everybody needs that.

Yeah. And I noticed, , one of the videos you posted recently, you were doing squat jumps with a one year old. So kudos for that. I don't think every parent can do that. , and on that note, you know, what's it been like for you?  As a lot of people look up to you, you know, member of the us women's national team, like how much is that started to drive some of the things you're interested in doing in terms of engaging on social media and and putting out videos like that and different things around motivational speaking.

Yeah, I mean, it is, it's really important, you know, I feel like this has always kind of been something that has been in the back of my mind and my hearts as something that I want to do. And so now, you know, I started the company, Sarah's platinum, and we've kind of like, almost shifted more towards like what my passions are.

. To where I can do stuff at home, , and still be able to connect with my audience and to give back. You know, I think that's kind of what it's all about. You know, it's finding your passion and it's finding about like how you can connect with the people that need it the most. So I'm really excited.

It's actually in the works right now. , but it's where I'm kind of pivoting in my career and Masa doing the motivational speaking as well. But. You know, the platform that I'm talking about now is more of like this game type of thing where it's at home. It's, , once or twice a week. And I'm able to connect with the fans and kind of share things that I feel like the girls.

, it doesn't matter if you're play sports or not, or soccer or not, you play sports, but I think these are the things that I wish that someone would have told me back then. So I feel like it's just kinda my way of giving back.

Yeah. I imagine we're recording this year at the end of April, right. Emits the Krone virus crisis. And there's been, you know, more, , remote video conferencing than ever before. I think zoom has something like 200 million users right now, and they had 14 million just a few months ago. Has that made it a little bit easier for you to use that platform to engage and try some new things.

Yeah. I was actually thinking about all of this before all like the whole of thing happened. Like I was like, I need to get on zoom. To do this because it's something that you can do from the house. Like it's

It's really excited to kind of just already see that zoom has taken off and people are now discovering it I can get my, , program up and running, then it's a no brainer and people will join and really get something out of it.

Yeah. And, and, and to that point, , you know, Tim mentioned not, not just zoom, I think is growing in value, but you're seeing a. A lot of these new tools, like whether it's cameo or you know, any of these different apps where people want to engage with their favorite athlete, their favorite stars, they're realizing that it's not just a one way street.

I think Instagram has been really great one way, and yet maybe in the comments you, you hear back from folks, but now you actually get to be a part of their lives and actually connect with them. , But who do you think the customer for your product really is? Or who, who would you like it to be?

I think it's definitely female based. , no, I, I've done some motivational speaking, , that is both just female, , only, and then it's also an, a wider range. And I definitely feel like I just connect more, my message resonates more. With females, and I've always wanted to be able to connect with a younger audience.

So I think it's, hopefully it's, it's all of that. It's just a female demographic. , but my zooms that specifically is definitely toward the younger audience. Got it. And what kind of things do you

talk about or you know, are planning

to talk

with them?

Give us a little bit of a teaser of the kind of conversations that you're having through this.

, I think, you know, it's about giving yourself permission to dream. How do you go about that? It's about goal setting. , I think about it, it's the mindset that it takes to overcome obstacles. , I want to focus a lot on injuries, , as well, because, you know, when you're in the sports world. I think it's so important to kind of not only have the tools to be able to find the right trainers and doctors, but also you need to figure out like physically how you're going to do it and, and mentally also.

So just kind of helping people from that aspect. And then obviously fitness and health is a really huge part of who I am. And I feel like it really helped me to kind of. Have a lengthy soccer career. , so just kind of sharing those things that are gonna allow them to not only have a healthy life themselves, but also if they do want to pursue an athletic career, then I think these are the things that can really help them to kind of get that edge.

Yeah. And for you, someone who went through a lot of injuries during your playing career, what were some of those things that helped you really push through? Because just I think the biggest thing from a mental perspective is just like how mundane therapy. He is, and just the day after day after day. So what's some of the advice you impart on people specifically to injuries.

I think it's, you know, first and foremost, it's kind of like to treat a injury as you would like. You're preparing for. You know, , you're going into rehab, your diligence. You have the right mindset. You're like everything they're asking, you're listening to your body. , you're not having any setbacks. And I think that's a really big one.

, obviously like you need to start out the best in the business to kind of like, help you to get. Back on the field as quick as you can. If you have the means. If you don't, then you need to do your own homework and you need to, you know, find someone online that's going to give you the best advice and be diligent about it.

You know, I think it really comes down to you and only you, you know, it's, you know, and all this is going to do it for you. So you just kind of have to have that mindset that you're willing to do whatever it takes. To get back out on the field as fast as you can, , and make an impact.

Yeah. And I guess to that point, talking about how cognizant you've been about, you know, your journey as an athlete through all the different phases of life. You know, you got involved that. No, we're pretty early starting your own soccer camps. And so tell us a little bit about that. What, what made you feel like that was something you wanted to do and, , what were some of the early learnings you had going through that process?

`So I absolutely loved going to soccer camp as a kid. It was one of the things that like I, I always looked forward to. And so I think it was a dream of mine that once I made it professionally, I wanted to be able to come back home to Cincinnati and hold my own. And I saw how popular it was and how much these kids loved it.

And I love it. I mean, I love having the opportunity to be able to like connect with the kids and to be like, I'm from Cincinnati and I'm playing on the national team and you can too.  so I think that's just so special and so unique and I think every single player should be doing that. , I hosted my own camp for the first, like four years, and it just became so hard for me to do it that I ended up, , joining with the company and I thought that that would be, you know, it was obviously much easier taking a lot off my plate, but what I learned is that I learned a lot about the business.

 and I figured that, you know, I'm gonna learn what I can and then I'm gonna turn back around and I'm going to, you know, do it myself again now that I have the time and learn from those mistakes that I made while I was with them. And so I've actually been able to now join with, , Rose Lavelle, who's from Cincinnati, Ohio.

We went to my, Pam. Yeah, that's cool. I was younger, so that really makes me feel old, but it's very cool to be able to now have this camp together and I actually reached out to her because she didn't have one. I said, I think you need to have a camp, and there is a company that I know would love to be with you, but I was with them and I learned a lot about, you know, your business and I know that you know, there's a better way of going it.

And so we joined forces and , of course it can always be better. There's always things that I continue to learn every single year, but I'm excited to be joining us with her. I'm excited to be a partner with her and I want to show her the ropes so that one day she can do it on her own. She doesn't need me anymore.

I'm sure it's going to come to that anyway. So, , it's all about kind of just teaching that next generation, I think more than anything.

Yeah. And, and, and what were some of the, the biggest things about the business of running camps that really surprised you or something that you learned along the way that you didn't expect to.

Unnecessary charges. You know, I think it's, it's saving money. I think, you know, when you have a big company. you know, you're not really as concerned about, you know, the X's and O's or, you know, the cuts or whatnot. So I just, I just always feel like there's always ways to save money to, to, you know, be more, frugal. But yes, I think there, there is a way for it to be more efficient. So, , you know, always learning.

 And the cost of, of youth soccer and youth sports generally in this country, I think over the last decade has gone up so high and yet, you know, I could just tell from like even my time and my sister as we were going through all our different sports. As you know, kids in middle school and high school.

It's just something that you feel like has parents like. Every kid has to be in. So it almost becomes like, Oh, it's voluntary, but, but it's a thousand dollars a month almost, and it becomes so prohibitive for a lot of folks, a lot of families that can't afford that to, to get involved. So I think you're, you're looking at it from the right lens, which is, it's not really voluntary.

Every kid sort of, you know, has to be a part of something. And yet it ends up being so expensive that it keeps people away from the, from the game.

I think it's really tough because there's so many requirements now. Kids, if they do want to be involved, and if they do want to play in college, you know, they have to do this, this, and this. And I think it's unfortunate because there's so much that's asked of these parents in order to, not only like help them to do something that they love and that they're passionate about, but you really want them to get a college scholarship.

It's like, you gotta, you gotta do X, Y, and Z. I think it should definitely be more affordable, and I'm hoping that that's like the wave of the future is that this stuff will somehow be, , provided to them because I think it shouldn't be, but whether or not it's free or at a lesser cost because it's just kind of ridiculous at this point.

Yeah. And with kids, with kids of your own, you know, that are just maybe starting to get into the age of some organized sport. , as a former professional athlete, what's that like for you? well, and you know, and you're also, your husband's also a former professional athlete as well, , having played quarterback in the NFL.

So what's that like for you guys, you know, do you feel any pressure as a former athletes and now parents, or is it the complete opposite, you know, where, you know, you don't want to put too much on your kids.  , tell us a little bit about that experience as a parent.

my parents were always. Very supportive of anything that we wanted to do. , I feel like the sports that they pushed us on or the sports that we ended up eventually being, we don't want to play anymore. So I, I learned from that, and I don't want that to be the case for my kids. I want them to do what they want to do.

I don't want to force them to do anything. I want to support them 100%, , and give them the best tools that I can,  to help them to achieve that. , that's me as a parent and we'll see what happens. I mean they might be in the band at this point because I'm not pushing them. I'm not pushing them in sports.

, I'm kind of letting them do their own thing and I feel like, , you know, my husband feels like I should be putting them in everything to kind of expose them. But I almost want to wait and just see for them to come to me and say, Hey, I want to do this. , cause I feel like. I don't know. I don't know what's right.

But, , you know, my, my son started playing soccer and it was just so funny for me to like be there cause I'm like, what am I going to be like? How's this going to be like, what's this dynamic going to be like for me? And I just had to sit back and I told him right before the game, I said, honor, you know, the only thing that I ask of you today is that you give it your all buddy.

And afterwards, , he was so proud of himself. I said, did you empty the tank today? And he said, I did mommy. Like that for me is like no matter what, like whether he plays awful, but whether it plays great as long as out there, he's having fun and he's given it as all like, that's all you could ask as a parent.

Yeah, that's, that's pretty cool and pretty special way to think. About it and that you also were raised in a, in a place of encouragement and support. We had former MLS veteran, , Patrick Yani on the show, and he's actually dedicated kind of his whole post-career effort to helping parents, , with kids in sport and whatnot.

Actually, it was born out of a lot of the maybe opposite experience you had, which I think you could probably. You probably have tons of former teammates too, where it's kind of either way, right? Like either it's a parent who just supported all things and, and the kid found their way into becoming a professional.

Obviously the skill and the determination and all of those, or it's really is driven by the parent, unfortunately. And eventually that stuff comes to a head. , and so. Patrick kind of was going through that during his professional career in the Inn has now, you know, written a book and kind of speaks to that.

But, , it's cool and it's refreshing to hear, like that's the approach you're taking as a parent.

Yes. And I am so excited to hear about that. Yeah. That someone is actually speaking out on it and has gone through the experience and wants to teach other parents, you know, this isn't the way that you want to raise your child, so I'm happy to hear that.

Yeah. And then one of the things that we see, , and we've heard from some of the guests that we've had on the show and just sort of seen, and I'm curious for your perspective on it is a post claiming a lot of athletes have a hard time transitioning.  it seems like you've sort of figured out your lane, but from folks that you've seen just in the business, whether it's your teammates or whoever, why do you think some folks, especially professional athletes, have that challenge finding that next step.

Yeah.

I think it's a lot of things. I think as we already kind of talked about, you have this support system. You have your coaches, you have your teammates, you have your friends. . And you have a routine and all these things that you're so used to, and it kind of becomes like your identity. And so then one day, not only do you lose that support group, but you also kind of try to figure out like, who am I?

Who am I now? , and I think that's the biggest challenge is that figuring out who you are. , once you're done playing a sport. And what your passion is. , you know, because I don't think anything will ever come close to being able to play a sport. So then you got to figure out, okay, what's my next?

That's my next career. What's my next passion? , it's never going to be what it was, but I want to do something that is close to that.

Yeah. Yeah. No, it's so right. It's funny, we were speaking with, , former NBA player deadlift shrimp, and he said nothing in life compares to running out of a tunnel and having 20,000 people cheering for you. Right. But he's like, you still, you, you find the next thing. Anyway, just knowing that there's no feeling that compares.

it's, you know, interesting to hear you, I think, echo that sentiment. So I guess along that line, as we think about. You know, so much of what you want to do is to lift up and, and, and motivate, , athletes in terms of how they think about both playing and also life outside of it. , what is some advice that you would have for whether it's, you know, , college athletes, it's women who want to play on the national team, or even just pro athletes generally.

, what advice would you have for them as they start to think about life just outside of the game and off the field?

I think it's figuring out what your passion is. I think it's figuring out, you know, what's going to make you happy, not what is going to make everybody else happy because it's gotta make you happy, cause you're the person that's going to have to do it and want to do it every single day. , you know, it's about finding that motivation to.

want to be the best and whatever it may be. , and establishing a routine and doing all those things, the research, , that are really going to help me to be the best. , I think networking is massive and I think it's something that I wish I would've done more of when I was playing that I really regret that I didn't do that while I was in such an amazing opportunity.

and. I think, you know, it's just kind of listening to your heart more than anything. , if you can try to do an internship, , because I think a lot of times we have in our, in our head what it is that we want to do, but then once we get into that actual job, it's not what we thought it was. , so I think if you can have the opportunity to, you know, do some shadowing or do an internship or.

Just kind of get a little bit, a little taste of what it is that you think that is that you want to do. Then you can get a better understanding of it. That's really the path that you want to go on.

Yeah, that's excellent advice and it's definitely follows the path that you took where you started to take advantage of those media and broadcast opportunities when you could, and. You know, kind of were able to balance that as while you continue to develop your, , professional sports career as well. So, with that, we'd like to ask, , what amounts to kind of our closing question, which is, what are you most excited about for the future of your business ventures?

Whether that's, you know, something digital or in person. Tell us what, what you, , get excited about.

I think it's. Yeah. It's the fact that I've been thinking about it for so long. , you know, I retired back in 2012 and I've just been, I go on these runs and I get these amazing ideas and it's like, I just want to do it and I don't know what's holding me back. Maybe it's the fact that I have three kids, , or that we're all,

is fair.

Oh, okay.

But I just keep thinking about it. And I think it's just a matter of like me actually like pulling the trigger and making it happen because I think it needs to happen. And I think a lot of people would benefit from it and kind of that's our place in the world. It's like to be able to give back and you know, I think, and just need to finally do it.

So thanks for having this conversation with me. And now I have to.

Yeah, exactly. Hopefully we can help serve as a little encouragement. So Heather, thanks so much for sharing your perspective. We really enjoyed having you on the game plan.

Thanks again. Best of luck with everything during this time and in the future. And I think it's great that you have this podcast , so thanks for having me on.

Thanks, Heather. 

So at the end of every episode, Tim and I do what we call our weekly partner meeting. It's an opportunity for us to talk about the company or athlete that you've just heard from. And share some perspective on challenges that they might face. We call this our weekly partner meeting based on the weekly meetings that we have at our respective venture funds.

So Tim, Heather is really in the earliest stages of kicking off this business idea, but she clearly has a lot of passion and enthusiasm for it. What was one of your biggest takeaways from the conversation that we had with her.

 well, I just liked so much her positivity and her ability to really just carry things on. So when I had asked the question about, , being in these different professional leagues and not even knowing if the league was going to be around the next year. And then she also talked about. , when she would get injuries, she started to dabble with the sports media and broadcasting stuff.

Like clearly she's got this level of this like motor basically that just, , continues to anything. Like she was just totally unfazed by the question about like leagues not existing anymore. And part of it's cause it was her reality and there wasn't much choice. But like. Also, she continued to stick with the game year after year, whether it was cause of an injury or if a league went away, she continued to stick with it.

, so when you translate that into what she's started to do off the field, I think she just keeps knocking on the door, trying new things. and so it's, it's like she's gonna figure it out and she's gonna continue, you know, start something, that she's going to stick to.

It's a, it's this idea of taking initiative, right. And I, and I really, we see that, you know, the number one thing that separates entrepreneurs from just anybody who has good ideas is that they actually take the initiative and they say, you know, if not me, then who? Right. And that really seems like her, cause she talked about, Oh, you know, we're seeing it live and we're seeing people engaging on all these different platforms.

You know, we talked about cameo and some of the other things that are coming up. People want to engage. She recognizes that opportunity and she says, okay, let me do that. And so now in sort of quarantine time, she starting with her IgE live conversations, but she's planning ahead. She's planning forward to, okay, when we're, when we're back to being in person or even when we have to do a digitally, how do I create a community?

With these women because she, you know, she's, again, the other thing is she recognizes who her customer is, who her message really resonates with, and it's young women. It's people that she wished somebody was talking to her when she was a young athlete, and so she wants to turn around and say, you know, if not me, then who?

And so I think you're absolutely right. That's that entrepreneurial spirit really starts with saying, you know, everybody's got great ideas, but it's that execution. It's that initiative that really sets somebody apart. And Heather clearly has that.

Yeah. I think she's trying to find the goalposts, you know, , when you're a professional athlete and your whole career is in sport, like the rules are defined, the goal is defined. And it's very quantitative. Right? , but outside of sport, like the world doesn't, isn't that linear? , it's, every opportunity is in front of her.

So she's, she's sounds like, you know, just working through what's the opportunity I want to key in on. And I think it can be challenging, especially when you're like a three time golden medal winner and you're thinking of like, Oh, well that's what I. That's what optimization looks like for me. When I'm fully optimized, that's what it is.

That's what the success is. But, , you gain, just get there, you know, overnight. And so I think she's realized that. And, , she's also had just the, the life realities of becoming a mother of three kids, right. In a span of like less than seven years, which is just a lot. So that's why she also expressed like, she's excited because, .

Well, she still has all of the duties of being a mom. Like she's, she's ready to focus in more on the other things too. So I think that's really exciting to see. You know, what is it going to be

Yeah. She's also, I think, come to, , herself with a lot of, you know, honesty and introspection. And she talked about like,  as you think about what you want to do next, asking yourself like, what makes me happy? What do I want to do for me versus the things that I'm expected to do or have to do?

Right. And a lot of athletes, especially, you know, the ones from some of the highest paying sports. Feel like they're expected to go do something. You and I have had this conversation again and again where it feels like everybody thinks they need to start a venture fund, right? And everybody thinks they need to start getting into real estate.

And it's like, you know, if that's not for you have that conversation. And I think for her, you know, she especially, you know, the family that she's in with her, with her husband also being a pro athlete, recognizes that, Hey, you have all these opportunities available to you. Find yourself in a lane that you think is gonna make you happy.

So if that means media, okay, great. Take those opportunities. I love the advice that she had, by the way of, , , interning or using your, your off season in really productive ways. And again, it comes back to the idea of taking initiative, right? You don't know, maybe the camp's businesses for you, maybe it's not, but you're not going to find out until you actually get plugged into it.

And the last piece I'll say that I think I really respected about her is realizing. the opportunity to give back and whether that's from what she wants to do with the series platinum group, and I'm sure we'll hear more about that in the coming months, but also in reaching out to Rose Lavelle and saying, you should have a camp.

Let's do it together. Or it's in coming on our show and saying, you know, if I have the opportunity in my career, I would have networked more. Just understanding that, like she wishes she had this when she was playing, but she's gonna make sure that,  these stories, , get out to prospective people who are listening today.

 I really respect that about somebody when they come back and say, you know, I didn't have this, but I want to make sure that I reach back and pull people up with me. So I love that part of the conversation with Heather.

Yeah. You know, on the point of camps and her experience as a professional soccer player, I'm excited to see how the premier lacrosse league plays out now. It's a total bummer for all sports fans right now obviously, cause all sports are suspended due to the Corona virus. But especially premier lacrosse league, which is just trying to get off the ground still.

I think this is maybe seasoned too, but their model is around, , having the teams travel from to different markets doing these big tournaments, , or kind of pool play on the weekends. But then throughout the week, I think they do camps where the players can. Have that one to one interaction with fans.

, young lacrosse players are learning from the best that are out there. , they're getting more invested into the game and interested. And so I think the women's. professional soccer is actually try a similar model in the past, but it may just have been too early because social media wasn't really as prevalent, so it was harder to follow your favorite players.

, there wasn't that opportunity for some of the back and forth engagement that social media provides. So, but I'm interested to see how it works for the PLL. Because it could prove as a potential model that a professional women's soccer league could take take on. Especially because, , you know, talking to Heather and just seeing other professional women's soccer players out there, like they're just.

, they're so strong and they're so confident and we need more of that. And so it's just great to see that. And that's what I really enjoy talking about her. It was just like her level of confidence and, , just being so sure of herself. And we need, we need as much of that as we can, , for the next generation of women.

 it's an interesting model, especially because we're seeing the wind shifting a little bit. And, you know, and we sort of teased it. , there were, were, , I think she agreed with, with us, which is that, , the women's team, especially given the success that they have, hasn't always gotten the, , financial success that should follow right.

And in this, I think there's going to have to be a change there. There kind of has to be, and some of that change is going to come from the fans and the audience and we're going to demand, , you know, a better experience for them. But some of that has to, has to be internal as well. And so maybe that is, you know, one opportunity for them to spread the brand, but to also figure out if there are, you know, secondary streams of revenue that can come in.

I think the PLL is going to be a really. Interesting. experiment. It's going to be sort of a, , a laboratory almost, or whether this model can work and then scale it to something that, you know, there are 3 million youth soccer players, right? I'm sure there's a fraction of that that are playing lacrosse.

It's still pretty popular, but it's popular in parts of the country. Whereas I think soccer is pretty popular at the youth level across the country. So. To your point. It is interesting to see, okay, try it with a smaller sport. Try it in some, you know, , specific markets and then see if it works at the youth soccer level.

And I come back to my point that we were talking about, which is, as you see so many families that get priced out of youth sports, right? But you realize how important it is, whether it's applying for college or whether it's just, you know, even your growth and maturity as a person to being that team environment.

Making those things more accessible. , and, and I mean, accessible financially, but also accessible to, you know, people who, , are endemic to the sport is really important. And so, yeah, I mean, I, , I agree with you. I think there needs to be some work. The one question is like, how well that's going to transfer into a different sport, right?

Maybe this works really well for lacrosse, , but it's harder to carry on and something like soccer. 

Yeah, that's true. I just think that with women's professional sports, why do we always have to take like the exact same model as the men's sports that are out there, right? Like there's so much pent up demand for access and engagement to these female superstars, so that should create new opportunities for new models.

, that can unlock a lot of revenue potential and help players get compensated and so on. You know, you see the same thing with the w MBA, which just, you know, rule for rule and, , click for click, like tries to follow. The MBA's format, but you know, company I invested in over time, they did a women's event with, , the top high school players in the country.

And that event eclipsed the dub, the best rate of WMB finals game in viewership by like five X based on the views they did online for the film, specifically in the women's game. So there's other opportunities out there, and I think. That's, that's also part of, , I think what the women's national team's been asking for is like, let's look at this differently.

,

your point, Tim, I

it doesn't have to be the exact

yeah. T to your point, Tim, I think. what we used to have, at least what I remember from like a decade ago, what we used to have was an interest gap. And now I don't think we have an interest gap. I mean, you look at the ratings of the last two,  world cups or Olympic, you know, the, the women's Olympics team, and you see that that interest is clearly there.

So now it's not a matter of is there a fan interest? We are sure that there is Spanish. Obviously there is still a gap, but I'm saying it's, it's not as wide as it used to be, especially given the relative performance. But I think now we have to catch up from, okay, the interest gap has been lowered. How do we lower the financial gap?

Cause I think that's the Delta that we're seeing that like whether it's media, you know, maybe really it just comes down to if they were on TV more, more people would watch and where people would be engaged. And it really comes down to the biases of the media decision makers that are not putting it on there.

Or it could be more complex than that. Right. We shouldn't simplify, but, but to your point. That's just a prime example. The interest is clearly there and yet, you know, you have to go fishing to go find a WNBL game on national TV, right? So, so I think that's where we have to figure out, like maybe that's not a problem that you and I can solve sitting here.

But generally speaking, bridging the interest gap is no longer the problem. I think bridging the financial gap is really a, you know, where these sports are getting hung up.

Yeah, I agree. I mean, I think it's all interconnected, but I think it's a good point.

Yeah. Well, I think this is a great place for us to wrap it up. Tim, really enjoyed this conversation with you, really enjoyed this conversation with Heather, so thank you so much for taking the time today.

Alright. And that's it for this week's episode of the game plan with Jacob  and Tim cot. As always, thanks so much for listening. We really enjoyed having Heather mitts on the show. Make sure to follow Heather on Twitter and Instagram. We'd love to hear from you. Find us on Twitter at the game plan show, or leave us a five star review on iTunes.

We'll see you next week on the game plan.