Every athlete growing up has dreams of winning the “big game”; hitting a home run in the World Series, making that one-handed touchdown catch in the Super Bowl, or hitting the game winning shot in the NBA Finals. As most of us will only dream of these moments we are lucky enough to have a member of the Sports Industry Network share with us his experience pitching in and winning the World Series.
Chad Durbin pitched in game 4 and 5 of the World Series for the Philadelphia Phillies. Although he is completely bombarded by parades, events, autograph signings, family celebrations, and trying to realize that his dream came true, he was gracious enough to sit down with me to share his thoughts about his World Series experience, the role networking has played into his success and his latest sports business, ShowcaseU.com.
Lewis: How nervous were you playing in the “big game” and has it sunk in yet that you are a world champion?
Chad: Nerves. Let me just say this…you are nervous almost to the point of throwing up, but it’s a motivator and something every athlete has experienced at some point. You have to love the old “performance anxiety!” The thing that stood out about all those nerves was that once you were active in doing something you’ve trained to do, the nerves dissipated. It was the sitting and waiting, the thinking, the watching that built up all the anxiety. Once you were in the act of warming up or pitching, it was more manageable.
It hasn’t sunk in that we’re World Champs, yet. I see the articles. I’ve watched the news. I’ve worn the sweatshirts, hats, and t-shirts that say we’re world champs. It hasn’t set in. When you watch the games on TV, the announcers and production build it up and present it in a way that makes it seem like the World Series. When you’re playing, you’re trying to block out those additional variables and concentrate on winning and doing what got you there. So, it’s sinking in, slowly but surely.
Lewis: Briefly take us through your experience. How important is mental visualization in your success and what went through your mind before, during, and after you took the mound in the World Series?
Chad: Mental visualization is key to achieving your goals. I can’t say that I have mastered this process at all, but I use the visualization to repeat my past success. I see and feel myself going through each step of the process leading up to facing a hitter. I can control most of the variables to that point. Then, once I’m in the game…I let the game dictate which variables I’ll be able to control from there. It happens quickly, very quickly, so making it part of your routine for the long-term allows you to perform with less mental effort. I’ve heard it said and I agree, the closer you get to the lines on each playing field, the faster the game moves. It’s 100% true.
Lewis: Did the series seem more intense than the rest of the playoffs, or was it just another game under your belt?
Chad: The playoffs were very intense. I’ll tell you what, though…the most intense part of the season was the last three weeks of the regular season. As a team and as an individual, you knew what was at stake. We were either going home or we were going to the post-season. It was time to perform so we could get the chance to win it all.
Lewis: How does this win affect your athletic career? Are there a number of sponsorship opportunities available from all of this, or do you simply take a short break and head back into training for next season?
Chad: This win affects each player differently. Some will benefit immensely during arbitration or free agency. Some will be released and find a job somewhere else next year, and benefit because they were a part of a world championship. In my case, I will focus on home for a couple weeks. I’ll spend as much time with my wife and 15-month old boy as I can. I’m sure there will be some fall-out from the World Series Championship, but I’m not anticipating much change going into next season.
Lewis: Tell us about your latest sports company, ShowcaseU.com. What is its main purpose, and how did the concept come about?
Chad: ShowcaseU.com is a Do-It-Yourself type of athletic recruiting resource. Student athletes are looking for scholarships or the right school to continue their education. With the economic crisis and hard times right now, an affordable tool ($99/year) to gain leverage and exposure for parents of student-athletes is extremely important. Essentially, each family is marketing itself to colleges. These students will be learning to market themselves for the rest of their lives in so many different ways. Whether the student athlete is a future engineer or future major leaguer, we want to provide the best resources so each student can determine which opportunities may be available to them. ShowcaseU.com wants to be a hub for community, knowledge, answers, and more.
The idea or concept came about when Jake Chapman, Co-Founder, reflected upon a bad experience with a recruiting service over 15 years ago. He and his family gathered the money necessary (a little less than $1,000) and hired the service to promote Jake. In a short amount of time, Jake and his family realized that the company was no longer running and had eaten the money and ran. After playing together for 3 years in the Kansas City Royals minor league system, Jake and I kept in touch on a regular basis. In 2005, Jake contacted me with an idea for a community/database where student-athletes could promote themselves and coaches/colleges could recruit by criteria (GPA, SAT, Height, Weight, 60-yard dash, etc.). That was the genesis and it has grown from there. I’ve had some major input, but the man behind the whole gig is Jake Chapman. He has a huge heart for people, a great business mind, and wants to make a difference.
Lewis: What is the most compelling part about ShowcaseU and why are others so excited about it?
Chad: The most compelling aspect of ShowcaseU is having so many tools available for each member’s use. Creating a culture of communication and needed information available at the click of a mouse is what’s exciting from my standpoint. Parents, students, coaches, investors, and many others are excited because many companies have tried and succeeded to gouge the market over the years and at ShowcaseU.com our vision is one of affordability and integrity. One of the most important things to us is consistently doing the right thing for our users. The site is going to be driven by the community using it, so any improvements or changing will most likely be initiated by our user base (which is exciting and unique).
Lewis: What are some of the major challenges with starting your own company in the sports industry?
Chad: One of the major challenges is establishing yourself as a company and person with a good reputation. We have the credibility at ShowcaseU.com, with over 20 years of professional baseball experience, but convincing our customer base and the coaching community that we’re in this for the right reasons (the student athletes) is a major challenge. From a business standpoint, as a startup there are so many challenges coming at you…tough decisions to make on matters ranging from hiring personnel to content for each page of the website. Because the community will have such a big impact on how the site grows, listening to the coaches, parents, facility owners, instructors, and student athletes is difficult but very rewarding process.
Lewis: How important has networking been in your athletic career and with ShowcaseU.com, and why do you feel others should take time to build their sports industry contacts?
Chad: Networking could be the most important thing anyone does in any industry. Meeting and connecting with the people you do business with and through is an enormous advantage. Personal relationships cannot be beat…the business world is tough, but creating a strong network of contacts you can trust will make many of the pitfalls easier to walk away from in the end.
Chad Durbin has been a professional athlete for 13 years. He is currently pitching for the World ChampionPhiladelphia Phillies and on his 5th Major League Baseball club. Feel free to leave him a comment on this site or if you would like to connect with Chad and learn more about ShowcaseU, please e-mail him at [email protected] or view his LinkedIn profile.