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Adam Martin, Makers of Sport and Finding a Way to Stand Out in a Crowded Industry

Front Office Sports



This feature is presented to you by the University of Nebraska — Lincoln Master of Arts in Business with a Specialization in Intercollegiate Athletics Administration

Adam (right) with dad (left) and first cousin Matt Carpenter (middle) has built an impressive following through Makers of Sport. Image via Adam Martin

Adam (right) with dad (left) and first cousin Matt Carpenter (middle) has built an impressive following through Makers of Sport. Image via Adam Martin

In life, there are people who say they will and people who do. Adam Martin is the latter.

The current principal creative director of Mtn. & Co., his own strategic design and branding studio focusing on enhancing the experience of sports design and technology, Martin finds himself in a role he never even envisioned growing up.

“I remember in 6th grade, I was given a copy of SLAM magazine and I fell in love. The writing was like nothing I had seen before. It had swagger,” Martin said. “Throughout high school, I took a plethora of art classes and had my eyes set on studying sneaker design in college.”

Not knowing of any programs available at that time specifically for sneaker design, Martin decided to attend Eastern Kentucky University to study art.

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It was there he would have an encounter that would change the course of his career forever.

“The first day of school, I found out that to be a sneaker designer, I had to take industrial design and at that time, the university did not offer that kind of program,” he added. “A baseball player who was interested in the same thing as I happened to be in the same class and told me that I should check out the graphic design program.”

Martin heeded his advice and not more than a week into college had switched to studying graphic design. With his newfound interest, Martin was able to marry his love for art and sports with his creativity.

While he is an infinitely curious person who studies topics like business, art and design religiously nowadays, Martin freely admits that he wasn’t as focused on academics outside of his design classes while at EKU.

“I had a lot of fun in college and while I didn’t graduate with the highest GPA, it was all about your portfolio when it came to getting jobs after college.”

Like many graduates, finding a job right after college proved somewhat difficult for Martin.

“Everyone is pushing out content. You have to get deeper. When you get deeper, that is when the fun stuff happens.”

— Adam Martin

After 5 different interviews, his job prospects seemed bleak. That is, until he landed an interview and a job with Host Communications.

A leader in the college athletics space at the time, Host was where Martin was first introduced into the world of sports business.

While he loved his time at Host, it wasn’t long before he was ready for a change.

“I didn’t have entrepreneurs in my family, so I just thought I was going to get a job and work there forever,” he added. “After spending many all-nighters at the printers, at 22, I got really burnt out, really quick.”

Realizing his desire to go out on his own, Martin made the decision to start his own company.

“I got to the point where I was ready to go out on my own,” he said. “I remember that when I told them that, they sent out an email to the company that read, ‘We would like to congratulate Adam in his new adventure and for starting a company.’ I knew at that point I had to do it.”

And do it he did.

“You never know who reads and listens to your stuff.”

— Adam Maritn

Without any clients or plan originally, Martin relied on his skills and his desires to prove to himself that he could do it.

If that meant being broke, Martin was willing to do it.

“I left and started freelancing. That first year, I was dead broke,” he said.

Fast forward 12 years and Martin now has a wife, two kids and a successful podcast and strategic design and branding studio.

Makers of Sport, Adam's podcast has received national acclaim. Image via Adam Martin

Makers of Sport, Adam’s podcast has received national acclaim. Image via Adam Martin

While the last decade for Martin has been filled with ups, downs and even a job helping run another business as a part owner outside of his own freelancing, he has been able to pursue his passion at each step.

In March of 2014, Martin added podcaster to his resume when he launched the Makers of Sports podcast.

3 years later, Makers of Sport has become an industry stalwart and has been a way for Martin to not only learn from his fellow peers but also give people the opportunity to showcase themselves to an engaged community.

Whether it was with his business or his podcast, Martin didn’t reinvent the wheel, he just went ahead and created what he wanted to create. Something that he says more people need to do.

“The best investment is the investment you make in yourself.”

— Adam Martin

“One of the big things I preach to my listeners and the people I speak with is to just start stuff. Having that entrepreneurial mindset can take you so far.”

Makers of Sport has continued to grow and Martin has continued to learn.

He credits the fact that the podcast goes beyond the typical questions to its growth and popularity.

“Everyone is pushing out content. You have to get deeper,” he added. “When you get deeper, that is when the fun stuff happens.”

Ever since his time at Host, Martin knew that the only thing he could count on was betting on himself.

“The best investment is the investment you make in yourself.”

By believing in his work and his abilities, less than 15 years later he accomplished what he set out to do the day that email went around the office.

His design work has been used by brands from the Red Sox to the SEC to his son’s local soccer club and listeners as far away as Australia have heard his podcast, but Martin knows that there is no time to let up.

After all, the kid who used to read SLAM Magazine is now doing work for them.

You can check out Martin’s work and his endeavors at the following sites.

Studio site:


Personal site:



How The UNC Tar Heels Organized Roy Williams’ Court Dedication

To celebrate the dedication of Roy Williams Court, UNC staff were tasked with putting together a special reunion dubbed Carolina Family Weekend.

Front Office Sports




via UNC Basketball

(*Teamworks is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)

The history of the NCAA Tournament can’t be told properly without the inclusion of the University of North Carolina (UNC) Tar Heels and head men’s basketball coach Roy Williams. Now in his 16th season as Tar Heels head coach, Williams has guided UNC to five Final Fours and three national championships alongside a host of individual coaching awards.

To honor Coach Williams and his impact on UNC basketball, the university dedicated the court inside the Dean E. Smith Center to him with a ceremony in August of 2018. To celebrate the occasion, men’s basketball staffers were tasked with putting together a special reunion dubbed Carolina Family Weekend that included hundreds of UNC’s greatest players from Williams’ time as a student, assistant coach, and head coach in Chapel Hill as well as the current team and members of Williams’ family. This mainly fell on the shoulders of administrative assistant Cynthia Friend and business operations/special events manager Kaye Chase.

READ MORE: Mississippi State Volleyball Camps Run Efficiently While Building for the Program’s Future

To help notify all the invitees about the event and maintain their contact information, Friend and Chase needed an effective communication tool in Teamworks. UNC’s athletic department had already been utilizing the software for two years for a number of internal logistics like messaging, compliance related tasks, distributing travel itineraries, and document sharing, but found another use for it in Teamworks’ mass communication abilities.

“There were multiple parts to the reunion including the unveiling of the court, dinner, a golf outing, and pick-up games on Saturday. We needed to get all that information to the lettermen as well as get their RSVPs in the most time-efficient way that we could,” says Friend.

The two then were able to set up different profiles for each prospective guest within the program that included their respective contact info and their eventual response. To maximize likelihood of a response, Friend and Chase used Teamworks to send both emails and texts to all prospective attendees.

“Going into this, we really were not sure how we were going to handle RSVPs,” recalls Chase. “So we made a form, which auto-populated into an Excel spreadsheet. That saved us quite a bit of time.”

Friend and Chase then were able to efficiently let the hundreds of attendees know where they were expected to be for each event as well as other key logistical details. If and when small changes to the schedule occurred, all attendees could be notified easily through Teamworks. The end result was a very smooth weekend that had many of the former players raving on social media both during and after the weekend.

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READ MORE: Miami Hurricanes Leverage Technology To Prepare For Actual Hurricanes

Moving forward, the Tar Heels plan to hold more reunion events, particularly for their teams that won national championships or reached the Final Four. 2019 marked Roy Williams’ 29th season in the NCAA Tournament as a head coach. It is only a matter of time before one of his legendary teams is honored with a special return trip home to Chapel Hill. When that time comes, UNC administrators will have the procedures in place to make it happen after acquiring the contact information for nearly every letterman in program history through setting up Carolina Family Weekend. 

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“It’s great to have these processes and this information already in place for smaller events and reunions,” Chase says. “Having all of our lettermen organized into this database has been really great for us. We’re looking forward to finding more ways to use it and more reasons to bring our alumni back to campus.”

To learn more about how Teamworks helps empower the sports world’s best, visit today.

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USOC Continues Turn to Tech to Increase Medal Counts in Tokyo

The U.S. Olympic Committee is careful in the technologies its sports use, but overall technology is now an important tool in helping train athletes.





Photo via USOC

Phil Cheetham is careful to avoid analysis paralysis.

The term was used to describe providing athletes with too much information from the variety of ways data can be collected today. Cheetham, the U.S. Olympic Committee’s director of sport technology and innovation, said the TMI condition is possible, but easily maneuvered around by allowing coaches to be the gatekeeper.

“We’ll feed coaches as much as we can,” Cheetham said. “They’re the filter, they have to take the data and filter it into coach speak and into the drills and exercises.”

Cheetham’s role is largely to interact and advise with the various National Governing Bodies that make up the U.S. Olympic teams as they enter into the final training stretch of Tokyo 2020.

READ MORE: Inside Sports Tech Tokyo’s Aspirations to Be Gateway to Asia for Sports Tech Businesses

His main goal is to help the various teams, coaches and technical directors select technology that is simple to use and helps understand and improve athletes more rapidly and to avoid injuries.

“If tech can help an athlete be quicker and better, then we’re for it,” Cheetham said.

That said, Cheetham said the technology used within the U.S. teams across the sports spectrum have to not be too intrusive. The equipment — like wearables – must be simple and easily integrated into a piece of clothing or shoes, without impeding the athletic performance. They also need to be accurate, and accuracy is improving regularly, but still can be a problem.

Cheetham, a former Olympic gymnast for Australia, also has a passion for diving and has several pet projects working with those two sports at the USOC.

The technology within the U.S. Olympic community is greatly helped by a fund created by philanthropists from Silicon Valley. Cheetham said the fund is made up of entrepreneurs and billionaires from V.C. firms and tech companies, to provide an advisory board.

“It’s not just money, but expertise and networking,” Cheetham said. “These guys are the top of Silicon Valley, so they know everybody. If we want to know what’s best in motion capture, artificial intelligence or virtual reality, we can go to them first.”

The Olympic organizations often have a chance to be among the first users for a lot of technologies in sports — and while it can be great to be on the cutting edge of the innovation, Cheetham said it’s important not to let the athletes be guinea pigs.

“A lot of times, we get prototypes, and that’s good and bad,” he said. “A lot of times, a weekend warrior or high school and college athletes can do the basic testing and when the tech is close to ready, that’s when it comes to the Olympics.”

That’s because if the data doesn’t work, it can’t help the teams improve. Technology, like one of his pet projects in motion capture, has increasingly gotten better and faster, collecting so much more data and more efficiently without disrupting athletes. Now the statistical models created can be much more useful in following trends and designing training around how long to train and when to take breaks.

READ MORE: Why Alibaba’s Push Into Sports Is a Natural Fit for the Chinese E-Commerce Company

“We’re really interested in tech that helps us track training length and intensity, and if we can do that, we can periodize training sessions better and taper perfectly for a competition,” Cheetham said. “When you’re training at an elite level, you’re walking a tight-rope of performance and injury. You can’t win a competition if you’re not in it, and the tech is helping us avoid injuries.”

The data collected can also provide coaches with more accurate information for better coaching, like if a shot put throw is off six degrees. It’s no longer “I think you were.” Now, it’s “I know you were.”

When it comes down to the technology used, Cheetham said the USOC takes yearly solicitations and ranks projects and budgets based on which ones will have the best chance to improve medal count. Often, the projects are easily transferable from one sport to another.

One example he provided was a radar technology used to track shot put, javelin, discus and hammer throws. The USOC technology was originally developed to track golf balls.

“We’ll do some blue sky projects, but most are good sells and no-brainers.”

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Why Alibaba’s Push Into Sports Is a Natural Fit for the Chinese E-Commerce Company

A long-term Olympic partnership showcases the cloud computing power of Alibaba and makes it a global player in the sports tech industry.




Photo via Alibaba

Alibaba, China’s massive e-commerce company, is making its presence felt in sports.

The Chinese company first entered the sports realm in 2017, signing a long-term partnership with the IOC to become the official “Cloud Infrastructure and Services” and “E-Commerce Platform” partner of the Olympics.

Heading into the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games, Alibaba has partnered with Intel with intentions to develop the first AI-powered 3D tracking technology. The partnership will utilize Alibaba’s cloud computing with Intel’s hardware and deep-learning algorithms.

The partnership with Intel will hopefully bring Alibaba more name recognition and insight into the company’s operations, said Joey Tan, Alibaba Cloud head of global initiatives and general manager of sports business unit.

“It’s just getting the brand out there,” Tan said at CES this week in Las Vegas.

Alibaba Cloud is the world’s third largest cloud provider, behind Microsoft and AWS, and its foray into sports has all been cloud-driven. Tan said Alibaba’s exploration into sports is about four key points: digitizing fan engagement, innovative broadcasts, cost-effective operations, and high-performance athletic training.

READ MORE: Inside Sports Tech Tokyo’s Aspirations to Be Gateway to Asia for Sports Tech Businesses

At the first Olympics as a sponsor, the company put on the Alibaba Olympic Games Showcase at PyeongChang in 2018. The immersive and interactive exhibit gave more than 100,000 attendees a glimpse at how technology can change future games.

In September 2018, Alibaba partnered with the Olympic Broadcasting System to launch the OBS Cloud to digitize broadcasting of the 2020 Olympics. The OBS Cloud helps streamline broadcasting workflow.

The OBS Cloud also goes along with the announcement of the Intel partnership, which will create deeper conversation around performance tracking by giving fans insights into the world-class athletic performances.

“It’s creating better athletic content to tell better stories,” Tan said. “It’s for broadcasters to tell wonderful stories, but at the same time, use it for teams and federations to do more fine-tuning with the athletes.”

Alibaba holds lots of American sport broadcasting rights in China. The company won Pac-12 rights and the ability to broadcast 175 events annually. The company’s streaming arm, Youku, won rights to the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Youku also has a partnership with the NFL.

Sports were a natural fit for the evolution of the Alibaba company, Tan said, as founder Jack Ma believes strongly in “health and happiness.”

Alibaba has so much technology in the retail realm, and Tan said they’re pulling that technology and applying it to sports — helping showcase the company to a wider audience.

READ MORE: Toyota Grows Olympic Involvement With Six New Partnerships

“We are using the Olympics as a primary showcase of our abilities,” he said. “Sports brings health and happiness, so in 2017 we said ‘let’s make the health and happiness vision true.’”

In December, Alibaba launched the Olympic Store on Tmall, the Chinese retail website operated by Alibaba. Chinese fans can purchase Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 products all year. There are additional plans to launch a global e-commerce platform.

There are no major immediate plans to enter the U.S. market with its sports products, but Tan said the U.S. is certainly on the radar screen.

“The U.S. is one of the biggest markets in the world when it comes to sports consumers,” he said. “Our first strategy is with Intel and working closely with the USOC.”

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