Game Changers: From the Football Field to the Football Office
Blake and Dexter Smith, two home-grown Tulsa boys saw a need and filled a niche.
By Monika MacIntyre-V Tulsa Magazine
It only makes sense that two Tulsa brothers combined their love of football, their creative web and design talents and their marketing abilities to launch a social networking website for football coaches and staff.
Blake and Dexter Smith, two home-grown Tulsa boys saw a need and filled a niche. Blake is a graduate assistant coach at TU who realized that the ‘football world' was falling a few steps behind the ‘Facebook world'. "Many coaches have no idea what social networking is. They don't have a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn page. When looking for a coaching job, you hope you know somebody that knows somebody or that you've been heard of through word of mouth." This is where TheFootballOffice.com was born. "It gives football coaches and staff a venue to network – a place just for them to connect." It's like other social networking sites, but a bit more exclusive. It's geared toward football coaches and staff. And you have to join as a member (you must be approved). Blake and Dexter check the site on an average of 50 times a day. The brothers find out everything they can about a person before approving a member. They want to make sure members are legit, so they Google them, check out their other social networking profiles, ask around, etc. If everything checks out, you're in the club. You can enter the office
"It gives football coaches and staff a venue to network- a place just for them to connect"
So once someone is a member, what are the benefits? Why would a football coach or staff member (or aspiring one) want to be involved? This is the best way for members of the football family to network without being old-school – without picking up the phone or meeting face to face. "It used to be that if you are looking to recruit an assistant coach, you use your network, pick up the phone, make some calls, find out who is looking to make a move, what their reputation is, etc. It was who you know or how many good things had been said about you. If you needed help in some area, if you had questions - same thing – ring a few phones to ask around". Now football coaches and staff can take that extra step to market themselves and connect with other like-minded people. There are many different things the site can be used for. They can post resumes, upload tapes, post questions (anything from questions about interviewing for a coaching position or questions about certain coverage). They can upload documents like playbooks. They can share knowledge. They can build bonds.
Seems simple enough right? So how does this concept become a hit? And how did they build so quickly? Those are the questions I posed to older brother Blake, "Dexter and I have worked around the clock from January through June of this year to get the site ready for launch. We didn't really do any advertising. We started with a few t-shirts with the logo on it at a football camp, used our network to spread the word, partnered with OSU coach Van Malone (who was at TU last year), sent out an email campaign at the beginning of June, and by the end of June we were already up to over 1,000 members. It just exploded." Obviously there was a need. And most of these members are on the NFL, college and high school levels. BY the end of June they were in 47 out of 50 states… (if you know anyone in Vermont, Alaska or Hawaii that may be interested, please pass it on)… and in 5 countries. If you consider the fact that 12,000 football coaches and staff travel across the country to attend the AFCA (American Football Coaches Association) Convention each year (the ONLY major networking event for coaches), just think how quickly this will catch on.
The Smith boys are prepared. Although Blake laughs as he explains what happened the first day the site launched. "I didn't re tell Dexter that I was sending out this email campaign. I thought the site was ready to handle it. Apparently it wasn't. The site crashed the first day, and my brother had a few choice words for me." Although Blake also has web experience (the two have been creating websites for years), younger brother Dexter is more of the webmaster while big brother is the marketing master. "Dex taught himself how to create sites starting around age 14. He just has this creative side for design." And Blake admits that just as Dex is a free-spirited, type B personality, Blake is more of the impatient type A. Ahhh, The yin and the yang of siblinghood. But the two have managed to get through the last six months working and STILL enjoy being roommates. "We have a house together on Brookside and we love being in Tulsa. We love the Brookside area, downtown, and Cherry Street." (Did I mention these guys are single and in their 20's? Impressive.) "Our family is here-our parents, our grandparents. Even though we both have lived away for a while, we just keep coming back."
The boys were both born at St. Francis hospital and raised in Tulsa, both playing football at Union High School. Blake went away to play football at Colorado State in Fort Collins from 2003-2008. The entrepreneur was inside even then. He ran a nightclub in Denver before coming back to TU to coach. Dex attended OSU, but had to give up his football playing days in high school when doctors found a tumor in his knee that ended his career. Just before joining his brother in the launch this site, Dex had a "real job" in Odessa TX, which he quit to take a chance on their dream. The boys have 3 other brothers and football has crossed all of their paths. Nate played football at OSU and just returned from Afghanistan, as he serves our country as a marine. He is looking for a coaching position, and you'd better believe he is utilizing his brothers' site. Little brother Mikey played for TU last year (his freshman year). And the oldest brother, Scott, is a landman with Petrohawk. He's actually the only one that didn't play football. He is a huge football fan though, especially loves the Sooners. He studied energy management at OU and became a landman right after college. Blake says, "He has been very helpful and supportive of what Dex and I are doing and spreads the word about our website a lot. Our dad, Dr. Michael Peterson of Peterson Chiropractic has also helped because he treats a lot of athletes (some pro) and coaches.
Enough about the past. Let's talk about the future. With the way TheFootballOffice.com is catching on so quickly, and with the talents these 2 brothers possess, I see big things happening for them. Although the site is still in its infancy, the brothers have a plan in place for their future. They want to have a company that is MORE than just this site. They plan to use their design, web and marketing abilities to create an umbrella business that is much more. They'll capitalize on their talents to get involved with recruiting, branding, clinics and fundraisers. They have plans to promote the heck out of the site and spread the word. Shoot, I'm not even a football coach or staff member (in fact I'm a chick who's not even really a sports fan!!) but Blake convinced even ME that I'm missing out if I don't get on this site!
Blake and Dexter Smith are two brilliant guys who are making their dream a reality. They are doing big things, and they are singlehandedly bringing the giant world of football together to be a better- connected, tight-knit community. And to think, just a few years ago, they were merely 2 brothers wearing Batman shirts playing football in the front yard.