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VALDOSTA The 7 on 7 offseason workout has become synonymous with high school football.

And when it comes to skill camps where college coaches and scouts are in attendance, there are two types of 7 on 7 workouts. The first type groups some of the top football talent in a given state together and those players are given the label of “all star.” Then, there’s the type of 7 on 7 David Menard, Rich McGuinness and the people at AIRO Sports Management are promoting. Army All American Bowl on NBC. And after traveling the country, they both believed 7 on 7 was the next wave of football.

The two were intrigued by the Texas model of 7 on 7 or the scholastic model, which was high school teams playing together, not all star teams.

“Our worlds collided a few years ago,” Menard said of his partnership with McGuinness. “I liked what he was doing, he liked what I was doing.

“I sold him on the vision of 7 on 7 was the future, it’s the season after the season, it’s the championship after the championship. It’s the second season where these kids have an opportunity to get exposed to college scouts.”

McGuinness sold his interest in his old company last August to join with Menard to “wire the country for the scholastic 7 on 7 model.” McGuinness said the team wanted to build a state championship series in each state, eventually culminating in a national championship that would bring the best 7 on 7 teams together in one city.

The program, which is in its inaugural year, has consisted of events in Florida, Georgia and Louisiana.

“We sold out in each state,” McGuinness said.

AIRO had 50 plus teams and 1,
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100 athletes participating in the Georgia championship, which was held in June. Florida showed out with 60 plus teams and 1,200 athletes nearly three weeks ago. And this past week, the program sold out in Louisiana with around 30 teams and 650 athletes, all according to McGuinness.

“We’re thrilled with our success early on here,” he said.

Now the idea is to bring the best of the three states together, taking the four qualifying teams from each state and having them go head to head in the Adidas Southeast Championship, which will be held July 17 18 at Bazemore Hyder Stadium in Valdosta.

AIRO’s dream of a future national championship will begin with increments of expansion. AIRO is looking at expanding events to incorporate a total of 10 states next year and a total of 30 in 2017.

“We think it’s going to take two more years to get to what we think is a national championship scenario,” McGuinness said. “But next year we think we can get to 10 (states) from three.”

Both Menard and McGuinness pointed to three key factors for their excitement about scholastic 7 on 7 growth across the country: kids wanting to play 7 on 7, the affordability of scholastic play and it being coach supported.

AIRO has gauged the interest of high school players wanting to play 7 on 7 and has seen a very positive level of interest. The registration fee is $599 per team, which breaks down to about $20 $25 per player. The partnership with Adidas for the Southeast Championship will allow every participant to get a free uniform and shorts, cleats (valued at more than $100) and gloves.

Also, the scholastic 7 on 7 is something AIRO understands high school coaches want to get behind. AIRO sees coaches believing in the scholastic approach, wanting to be involved in it and wanting to incorporate the approach as part of their team’s offseason improvement plan.

Another positive takeaway AIRO sees from the scholastic model is the thirst college coaches have for seeing players in 7 on 7 workouts, either live or on video.

“The recruiting platform for 7 on 7 has just gone through the roof,” McGuinness said. “More colleges today want the 7 on 7 video,
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and we are now shooting that video to give back to high school coaches so they can break it down and work with their teams on getting better and eventually getting that video to the colleges.”

AIRO also acknowledges the level of sponsorship it’s created through work with the scholastic model. Adidas has been noted as a brand that has been pushing the 7 on 7 platform. Gatorade has become another sponsor of AIRO along with the video analytics help of Krossover.