Shining a Light on Soccer Shots

Founded in 1998 by athletes Jeremy Sorzano and Jason Webb, Soccer Shots is a high-energy soccer program featuring principled instruction and loads of fun.

Launching the first businesses in their hometowns of Charlotte, NC and Harrisburg, PA, both found quick success in their passion to inspire children to live fit, healthy lives. The idea of providing kids ages two to eight with a creative curriculum that focuses on soccer skills as well as character development held appeal to many, and with a growing interest from parents and former teammates to become involved, in 2005 Soccer Shots began franchising.

The mission of Soccer Shots is to be the premier intro-to-soccer provider across the globe. Last year over 100,000 kids nationwide enrolled in Soccer Shots to learn the fundamentals of the sport. This year the company is looking to grow by 50,000 more.

For Soccer Shots, the most important thing when considering a potential franchisee is finding someone who loves kids and has a passion for impacting them positively. Since the age of 13 Leslie Bennett, franchise owner of the Chattanooga, TN Soccer Shots, has been searching for a purpose driven career in which her passion for sports and children could be fulfilled. “Soccer Shots has given me the opportunity to be in an environment where it’s okay to lavish love and acceptance to all those I encounter,” she says.

Finding Her Way: Leslie Bennett

Born and raised on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, from an early age Bennett developed a passion for softball, being outdoors, and living an active lifestyle. A devoted Christian, religion was always a strong part of her upbringing and the path she has followed centers around her instilled beliefs.

Immediately after graduating from Mississippi College with a Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies, Bennett moved to New Orleans. Here she furthered her studies to complete a Masters degree in Christian education, with an emphasis on helping build communities and introduce people to Christ through recreation. Upon completing the course, she accepted a job as a youth minister in Diamondhead, MS.

In 2005 Bennett’s life changed when Hurricane Katrina wiped out her home and all her possessions. Left in devastation, Bennett set out to find a new home and job, which brought her to Tennessee.

A few short years later Bennett received a position as Athletic Director of a local Christian school. Growing the athletic department for the kids, Bennett loved the job. “It was a fun whirlwind, growing and investing my talents into the lives of the teenagers,” she says. After five and a half years with the school Bennett began to see her vision for the school, as well as her personal life goals, swaying from her current position.

During this same time Bennett’s friend, Zach White, began sharing with her his positive experiences since buying the Birmingham, AL Soccer Shots franchise. Looking into the business, Bennett was pleased with the affordability and design of Soccer Shots and wasted no time resigning from her current position to buy the Chattanooga franchise. Launching this past June, Bennett says she hasn’t looked back. “It feels as if someone turned the lights on in a dark room. I couldn’t be happier.”

The steps Bennett took to own her franchise involved an extensive interview and application process, which helped both sides to decide if the pair was a good match personally and demographically. Next Bennett attended several days of in-depth training, which provided her with all the necessary tools to build her business. After training Bennett worked alongside Tim O’Neil, a business consultant from the Soccer Shots home office, who spent two days reviewing her territory and visiting preschools in the area. This gave Bennett the confidence and on-the-job training she needed to continue building the foundation for a strong business network on her own.

Provided with ongoing support from the corporate team, Bennett says a Soccer Shots Facebook group is also in place to help. “Anytime I find myself in a dilemma or have a question to ask I can post it in the group and within the first few hours I’ll receive responses from other franchise owners offering solutions,” she says.

Along with the freedom of being her own boss, Bennett enjoys seeing first hand how her efforts directly affect herself and the people around her. “Owning my own franchise has been eye opening, exciting and fulfilling,” she says, “I love my job and can’t wait for each next day because it just seems to get better and better.”

The highlight of Soccer Shots for Bennett is having a career working with kids in the realm of sports and recreation. Being able to express to children that life is good, encouraging them to be outside, to play sports, and to laugh, while also instilling good character traits such as caring for others is exactly what Bennett believes she was meant to do. “Everything that’s good about life is what Soccer Shots is for me,” she explains.

Unlike her previous job where despite how many hours, or how hard she worked there was always a limit for success, today Bennett has no limits and is supported by professionals who are willing to help when needed, creating a healthy medium for their franchise owners to thrive. “This is a dream come true because there is no glass ceiling or red tape that hems me in or holds me to some standard,” she explains. “I have the freedom to do with it what I can dream of it, and each week is a new week I get to dream big and see what I can make happen.”

Currently working alongside five employees, Bennett has 300 kids enrolled this season. Bennett encourages all those interested in Soccer Shots to call the home office. “As long as you’re passionate about kids, sports and working hard for yourself, they make the rest easy,” she says. “When I go out to the fields and see the children participating in Soccer Shots, the smiles and the laughter that we bring to their faces, and in turn their parents’ faces, it’s priceless. Soccer Shots brings a lot of joy and happiness to peoples lives, and I’m so proud to be a part of it.”

-Jessica Spoto

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