LOS ANGELES and ST. LOUIS, April 24, 2018 -- The Rawlings Tigers, America's largest and fastest growing youth baseball club, today announced its partnership with Groundwork, an easy-to-use, automated payment and notification solution designed for youth sports, to assist teams and families with the cumbersome overhead of club payments management.
The partnership marks a growing trend in youth sports: the need to capitalize on economies of scale and leverage the tools that make such scaling feasible. Established in 2011, the Rawlings Tigers grew in the St. Louis area, then, in 2014, made its first major expansion into Louisville, KY, where there were over 20 youth baseball teams but no strong club infrastructure. The Tigers provided a growth blueprint, everything from gear discounts to operational strategies and best practices, and the club's methods proved so effective that membership quickly spread from coast to coast. Affiliation has grown to over 150 member teams across the US, and, according to Rawlings Tigers National Director Spiker Helms, the club expects to top 300 by December.
Surprisingly, fee billing and collections is one of youth teams' largest pain points. Coaches and managers sink untold hours every season into issuing reminders, tracking payments, and handling deposits. In an era when effortless digital payment systems abound, youth sports remains largely mired in laborious paper check payments. The Rawlings Tigers chose to partner with Groundwork because, unlike the other payment automation options available, Groundwork focuses solely on youth team needs without bundling in costly suites of extraneous services. Groundwork built its solution to be streamlined, easy, and affordable.
"The travel component of youth sports is growing quickly, but it can financially stretch some families," said Bill Lennon, Co-founder and CEO of Groundwork. "On the team side, operations take a ton of time and effort – and expense if you have to hire accounting help. We're providing more automation, better tools, lower costs, and the ability for teams to run more efficiently so they can get back to playing ball and having lives."
The Rawlings Tigers and Groundwork found commonalities at many points. Both are innovators in their respective fields. Both are focused on providing better infrastructure for teams to perform at the highest level. And both recognize the need to help people through lowering costs. The Rawlings Tigers, for example, prioritize helping students toward scholarships and a lighter college finance burden. In a related vein, Groundwork, recognizing that many sports clubs are non-profit, offers a non-profit pricing model with no ACH transaction fees — a first in the sports club payments market.
"Groundwork is changing youth sports by streamlining processes, and we love that," said Spiker Helms. "If we can make something more efficient for parents and players, we are going to do it. People want to pay for the things they find value in. We want to take out the headaches in that process, and Groundwork makes everything 10X easier for them."
According to Helms, everything that makes things easier on member teams ultimately helps with player development, and that often translates into scholarship opportunities and eliminating student debt. As of this writing, 115 Rawlings Tigers athletes have gone on to college baseball commitments, and 90 percent of 17U athletes were offered college baseball scholarships.
"Rawlings Tigers can provide reliable information and opportunities for kids to move forward with their careers," adds Helms. "If we can do that, it's a very good thing. And the more tools we can offer to teams and families — tools like Groundwork, then the more we can make a real difference out there."