New CEO Caldwell Steps Up and A Global Search for TD Kicks Off
Joe & Peter Bradley are gone —With a clear vision, the CEO of Legacy Global Sports supports Global Premier Soccer and positively impacts nearly 100,000 youth players across America.
Ever since it launched back in 2001, the goal of Global Premier Soccer (GPS) was to provide opportunities for youth soccer players to reach for their dreams in a player development focused environment.
Now one of the largest soccer organizations in America, GPS has players in more than 25 states, 2 provinces in Canada, a club in Puerto Rico as well as international opportunities. In America’s $17 billion youth sports market, this is a big block.
GPS clubs train approximately 20,000 competitive youth soccer players and the recreational soccer programs work with an estimated 75,000 kids through camps and clinics offered by partner soccer organizations and clubs.
Recently, several GPS’ top-level executives were tossed out amidst swirling rumors of investigations and financial issues.
With GPS affiliated youth soccer clubs all across America connecting nearly 100,000 youth soccer players and a powerful partnership with Germany’s world-famous soccer club, FC Bayern, the organization’s future impact on the youth soccer landscape was questioned.
To set the record straight, SoccerToday interviewed Steve Griffin, CEO of LEGACY Global Sports, and Keith Caldwell, the new CEO of GPS. Paul Baber, Chief Operating Officer, and James Hamblin, National General Manager also joined the interview. With an impressive openness, Griffin and Caldwell discussed GPS’ strength and its future.
“The players are our first priority.”Keith Caldwell, CEO of GLobal Premier Soccer
The real reason that GPS has a strong future, besides the leadership team at GPS, is because of the commitment of LEGACY Global Sports, a private equity-backed, global youth sports company that acquired the majority investment in GPS in 2016.
With the slogan, “LEGACY is the heartbeat of youth sports” the company behind GPS is clearly committed to youth soccer — and, GPS is Legacy’s youth soccer arm.
While Legacy may not be a familiar household name in youth soccer, they serve over 1,000,000 elite youth athletes participating in soccer, hockey, lacrosse and football programs, events, tournaments or tours each year. And, Legacy is well funded.
“Legacy’s infusion of capital starting in 2018 has resulted in a $25 million investment,” said Griffin. This capital investment is intended to ensure the highest quality experiences for all athletes and their families, coaches, and staff. One of the shining star attractions in the Legacy portfolio is GPS, which Griffin credits for attracting investors. The value proposition is for GPS to provide world-class opportunities, continue to expand its reach and to develop players to reach for their goals.
“The Department of Justice has assured us that neither GPS or Legacy are the targets of any investigation,” said Giffin to clarify any speculation on the topic.
“We are in a good position to be a leader in a fragmented market,”Steve Griffin, CEO of LEGACY Global Sports
Griffin is looking for long term success and his goal is to raise the quality of the product GPS delivers.
“For me, being a leader in this industry means being customer-centric. We have an opportunity to deliver unparalleled experiences and programming, — both on the field and off,” said Griffin who is a believer in corporate responsibility.
Griffin’s current mission is to bring in the best people to lead the core GPS team who do the work every day. He appointed Caldwell on January 21, 2020, as the replacement for Joe Bradley, the former longtime GPS CEO. Both Baber and Hamblin have been promoted to larger leadership roles.
Caldwell, who is exuberant to take the reigns at GPS, has an extensive soccer background — as a player, coach, and strategist. Immediately prior to joining GPS, Caldwell was with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the lead strategic partner to the United Bid Committee and led the work on the successful 2026 World Cup bid. Prior to that, Caldwell was the Director of Coaching for the Scorpions Soccer Club.
On the future of existing GPS partnerships, Griffin is a strong advocate of adidas.
“Adidas is rock solid. Adidas is a good partner and has been for a long time.”Steve Griffin, CEO of LEGACY Global Sports
“We will continue forward and will likely expand this partnership as our values align.” As far as shared values, Griffin was referring to adidas’ stance on the environment and sustainability as well as their attitude towards volunteerism. “We are already formulating strategies with adidas that will provide our athletes with experiences that will impact them beyond the sport.”
Griffin was also respectful of GPS’ partnership with FC Bayern – Germany’s most well known and successful football club which plays in the top tier of the Bundesliga. “There are so many kids proudly wearing the FC Bayern badge, and as of today nothing has changed,” said Griffin.
“FC Bayern could have chosen any partner in the USA and they chose us,” said Hamblin who holds a UEFA B license has worked at GPS for over 18 years. “This is a testament to what GPS has accomplished and there is a great synergy.” As the National Tournament Director, Hamblin manages over 35 events nationwide.
FC Bayern has confirmed there is still a working contract between the two organizations. As reported earlier this week, Sebastian Dremmler, FC Bayern’s Head Coach of International Programs said, “We are working together and looking forward to having a summer program together.”
“Bayern is one of the best clubs in the world,” said Caldwell. “The culture of the game is different, there is a history and a passion that is unmatched in the USA.”
“Giving GPS players the opportunity to experience the game in different cultures is very important to us.”Keith Caldwell, CEO of Global Premier Soccer
Last year, GPS sent more than 1600 travelers to Europe on soccer tours to FC Bayern or to compete in tournaments like the Dana Cup and anticipates a similar volume in 2020. GPS also holds a significant number of ID camps identifying players that might earn a chance to train at FC Bayern.
“Every player is different and has their own goals,” said Caldwell. “Whether a player is interested in playing for the national team or wants to be a high school varsity player, GPS offers opportunities for all players.”
“And, GPS also has an excellent college recruitment program,” added Baber who has been with GPS since 2003 and holds a USSF A License, USSF Youth License, United Soccer Coaches Advanced National. Baber coached and served as the general manager for the GPS Cape Cod Crusaders PDL team and became the Director of Soccer in 2009.
“I look forward to building on the success of the GPS organization, and all the fantastic work that has been done. I want to analyze what works well, and tweak the programs that need it,” said Caldwell.
“My singular goal is to offer the best programs for youth soccer in the USA.”Keith Caldwell, CEO of GLobal Premier Soccer
As far as establishing a plan for the future, Caldwell will embark on a listening and knowledge tour and is spending hours every day talking to GPS staff and partners. He has a three-month calendar set for traveling around the country to meet GPS clubs and get to know the players and the coaches.
Plans include visiting New Hampshire, Maine, New York, CA, Florida, the Carolinas as well as other states where there are GPS partner clubs and affiliates, and also to travel to Valencia, Spain in April to visit the GPS International Academy. Caldwell is also looking forward to visiting the local area youth soccer fields in Quincy, MA and watching sessions as often as he can.
While changes at GPS have begun and will continue to be implemented next week, any major restructuring will wait until after Caldwell’s tour of GPS clubs. Legacy has already introduced performance reviews along with a host of other human resource benefits into the GPS package including a 13-week fully paid gender-neutral maternity/paternity leave.
The culture of GPS is improving. “We were fortunate to attract Laura McLaughlin to our LEGACY team. She serves as our Chief People and Culture Officer,” said Griffin. ” In a very short period of time, Laura has made significant contributions to our human resource strategies intended to provide a best-in-class workplace for all of our team.”
One initiative launching immediately is the global search for a new Technical Director who will be responsible for all coaching and educational programming. Reporting to Caldwell, the TD will oversee the Technical Committee and implantation of the GPS club style and system of play.
Back on track and with new leadership, and the strength of Legacy’s commitment to youth sports, GPS is ready to move forward.