Changing the Game: Empowering the Youth Sports Community Starts With GameChanger’s Uplifting Culture

GameChanger’s team takes cheering on their peers to a pro level, and its customers feel the impact. Built In sat down with three team members to learn more.

Written by Jenny Lyons-Cunha
Published on May. 03, 2023
Changing the Game: Empowering the Youth Sports Community Starts With GameChanger’s Uplifting Culture
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On a typical Saturday afternoon, you’re likely to catch Meghan Gess sitting next to a baseball dugout, recording stats on her phone amidst the whoops of young athletes, the encouraging shouts of coaches and billowing clouds of baseball clay. 

Gess faithfully tracks every fly ball, strike and home run of her son’s game using GameChanger, an app that empowers youth sports organizations to live stream scores, video and communications to its community. 

But Gess is more than a fan of GameChanger; she’s one of its market activation managers.

“As long as GameChanger has been around, I’ve used it,” Gess said. “It’s always been a tool that our team community relied on heavily to help us feel more connected.” 

Gess’ longtime use of the product has given her a deep understanding and appreciation for it, which she’s carried into her marketing role.  

“When I decided to make a career move, I immediately sought out GameChanger,” she said. 

Since stepping into her permanent position, which spans the strategic partnership and marketing teams, Gess has been most struck by the impressive pace of innovation GameChanger maintains. 

“This organization is not afraid to evolve, take risks and fail,” she said. “We’re not complacent — the team does a great job of constantly pushing ourselves to make GameChanger better and reach more audiences.” 

It’s a goal that Director of Product Design Keith Esernio has seen on the horizon for much of his nine years with the company.

“There’s a huge focus on growth and scale,” he said. “We’re expanding beyond baseball and softball to reach more youth sports.”  

As any athlete can tell you, success often comes in the form of being able to dust yourself off after a fall — of which GameChanger has seen its fair share. 

“It’s taken us several attempts to become more than a baseball and softball company, but we’re finally in a place to act on that vision of connecting with the broader world of youth sports,” Esernio said. 

“Pencil and paper is one of our competitors,” he added. “Replacing something as habitual as tracking scores on a pad of paper across an entire sport is an exciting challenge.” 

 

WHAT GAMECHANGER DOES

By connecting kids and families through the medium of sports, GameChanger aims to cover every youth athlete like a pro by delivering live video streaming, scorekeeping, and team communication tools to more than 550,000 youth teams.

By connecting kids and families through the medium of sports, GameChanger aims to cover every youth athlete like a pro by delivering live video streaming, scorekeeping, and team communication tools to more than 550,000 youth teams.

 

 

gamechanger
GameChanger

 

Working at GameChanger Is a Team Sport

Glorious rounds of applause after a game-altering play are certainly a perk of playing team sports, and, at GameChanger, the loudest cheers come from coworkers. 

“The amount of recognition everyone shows for one another here is massive,” said Senior Engineer Emma Grotto. “It’s one of the things I love most about GameChanger.” 

Esernio quickly noted that Grotto is one of the most recognized employees at the company.

“She has earned over 1,000 ‘tacos,’” he added, referencing the HeyTaco Slack extension, which allows team members to impart virtual tacos as a means of praise and recognition for extraordinary work. 

Laughing, Grotto waved off the statistic, but conceded. “It’s very nice — a lot of people reach out to me about it so I’ve met more coworkers because of it.” 

The camaraderie at GameChanger extends beyond recognition, Grotto said. There’s a marked culture of collaboration. 

“Everyone is so open to helping people out across teams and across the company,” she said. 

For her part, Gess envisions GameChanger as a sports team. 

“We all have our roles, our strengths, our weaknesses — there’s no ego here, just contribution,” she said. “Everyone is willing to roll up their sleeves for the better of the team.” 

Esernio agrees, noting that the egoless recognition and hard work is done in service of the GameChanger customer.

“We all want to elevate the next generation of youth sports,” he said. “It’s what galvanizes this team.” 

 

SPORTSPEOPLE AND BEYOND

A recent employee survey at GameChanger revealed that the majority of respondents is associated with youth sports — as coaches, former youth athletes, parents to an athlete and beyond. But GameChanger isn’t just home to athletes, Senior People Partner Kaila Starr shared with Built In. “We have teammates who truly believe in the mission and the vision,” she said. Grotto noted that she was a musician growing up, but has found her place in the sports community. “I came from the other side of things, but, early on in my career here, I attended a sports convention and immediately connected with GameChanger’s goals,” she said.

 

‘It’s So Much More Than an App’ 

When Esernio played youth sports, he remembers scanning the stands for two vital fans: his parents. 

“I definitely noticed when my parents were — or weren’t —  able to make it to a game,” he said. 

Now, as a parent to a five-year-old son, Esernio is looking forward to attending his child’s games. 

“He signed up for tee-ball and is starting in a few weeks,” he said. “I’m definitely going to make sure my league uses GameChanger”

It’s the value proposition that most drew Esernio to GameChanger — the chance to help parents connect with their kids in a new way. 

“Whether they can be at the game or need to stream it from home or work, we’re helping parents be more in tune with what their children are doing with this product.” 

As a member of the marketing team, Gess has had the opportunity to witness the gravity of GameChanger’s impact on the field firsthand. While she hears stories at every single event, there’s one that struck a particularly raw nerve. 

“There was a father who had terminal cancer and was only able to watch his son’s games because of GameChanger,” she said, blinking back tears. “It allowed him to be there through the end.”  

Whether it’s mothers traveling for work, grandparents tuning in from home or a sickness in the family, GameChanger’s testimonials are rich with heartwarming connections. 

“It’s so much more than an app for people,” Gess said. “It’s empowering people to be a part of their kids’ lives no matter where they are.” 

 

Team Players at Heart 

GameChanger’s values — particularly its mission to change lives on and off the field — ring true for Gess, who is a lifelong athlete.

“Sports has been a bedrock for my entire life and professional career,” she said. “It’s made me the person I am, and I see it reflected in the work we do at GameChanger.”

When considering how she’s showing up for her team, the company and customers, Gess turns to her athletic roots. 

“It all comes down to what I learned playing sports: how to be a good teammate, how to receive feedback, the importance of failure and losing, how to overcome obstacles,” said Gess. 

Grotto agrees: She sees unparalleled drive and support in her coworkers.

“Everyone at GameChanger is a team player.”

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity

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