It has been nearly impossible for collegiate athletes to earn money for their talents and expertise due to extremely regulated NCAA policies. However, Jared Vishno (Col '20) and Grant Sirlin (Col '20) found a way to make it possible with their company, Division 1-on-1 Trainers.
Division 1-on-1 Trainers is the only NCAA approved platform that connects current college athletes to athletes in the community for personal sports training sessions.
Jared and Grant have known each other since they were two years old and grew up playing sports together in Westport, CT. In High School, they trained athletes in their community in various sports. When they both decided to attend UVA, which has one of the strongest athletic programs in the country, they decided to combine their experiences in training to create their company.
"The two problems we solve are on one side we give college athletes a flexible NCAA compliant way to make money," Vishno says, "and on the young athlete side we give kids the opportunity to build relationships with college athletes in their hometown." The company has completed 250 training sessions with around 70 customers.
Due to a bylaw that regulates student-athletes’ use of their name or likeness for advertising, publicly offering lessons is ostensibly prohibited. Prior to Division 1-on-1 Trainers, "athletes would essentially have to walk around town bags on their head if they wanted to advertise their services," Sirlin explains.
To comply with NCAA requirements, Division 1-0n-1 Trainers provides semi-anonymous profiles. Customers can view the profiles online and request a trainer based on the things they want to learn during the sessions.
"Especially with a Division 1 school like UVA, the athletes are someone the trainees look up to in the first place," Sirlin says. "At the same time, it could be someone who is only two or three years older than you and just went through what you're going through right now. So, the relationship aspect is big."
Most customers are between 8-17 years old and range from athletes just getting started with a sport, to elite high school players looking to get to the next level. "The biggest thing the customers have said they love is the confidence building and mentorship aspect that the college athlete provides," Vishno explains. The customers appreciate a trainer that is only a few years out from where that kid currently is. It creates a much more open environment, better communication, and ability to relate to the athletes that are working with them compared to adult or professional trainers.
The company is putting its grant money from the i.Lab towards new website development to simplify the compliance and trainer request process. This summer, they are looking to expand to Virginia Tech and other Virginia schools.
As a collegiate athlete myself, I would love to be able to make an impact in my community with local young athletes. It's an awesome way for college athletes to get paid for what they're best at: their sport. I think this is an excellent concept with a huge demand in college towns across the country.