Join us in congratulating LJ Mattraw of Parisi Schererville as the 2019 Best Practice Award Winner for Program Director of the Year. Through his commitment to staff culture, business planning and attention to detail, LJ has not only helped Schererville become one of the strongest facilities in the network, he has also seen huge professional growth, recently being appointed as Wellness Manager for Franciscan Health Fitness Centers.
When LJ joined the team in 2014, six years after the Parisi program had launched, ownership was considering closing the program. The business was in flux, accumulating over $20,000 of losses in 2014, while only having 40 athletes in the program. Fast forward to today and Omni is consistently in the black, averaging anywhere from $12,000-$15,000 per month and 110 athletes. LJ attributes the financial success to improvement in program quality, consistent training practices, and most importantly, following the protocols of the Parisi program.
As Program Director, LJ’s primary focus is the culture with staff, coaches, parents and athletes, with LJ setting the standard. He believes that If you establish a good culture, people will want to join and ultimately stay. The same goes for coaches. If you provide a great environment for coaches to thrive in, they will stay with you and grow as coaches.
This only can be achieved, LJ believes, with an open flow of communication. Being transparent gets everyone on the same page and working towards a common goal, whether it is with training athletes or working with staff. Because of the culture they have cultivated, everyone is very close-knit and it feels like they are all a part of one big family.
This terrific culture of high expectations has resulted in 40 athletes going on to play collegiate sports, and some even going on to play professionally, such as Kache Pallicio of the Seattle Seahawks, Lance McDowdell of the New Orleans Saints, Rashaun Simonise of the Cincinnati Bengals and Liam McMorrow of the Toronto Raptors.
LJ is also smart enough to know he doesn’t have all of the answers. He greatly values others in the Parisi network to lean on and having relationships with people who have been in the same shoes at different locations. He is persistent in seeking out best practices; and not just finding out what they are, but actually following them. LJ also heavily leans on the Playbook because without it, he knows things will fall through the cracks.
Apart from the business side of the program, LJ knows it’s important to understand that sometimes kids need to just be kids, and as a Program Director and coach, he has to be able to relate to them. “Athletes can’t always be pushed through a wall,” LJ says. “You have to walk the line of pointing out what they are doing wrong, but also what they are doing right.”
He always tries to focus and sandwich two positive things, and one constructive thing, especially with younger kids to build up their confidence. By doing that, he feels he creates a culture of hard work and expectations, but also a fun environment where an athlete can thrive. Little did he know that the culture and environment he helped create, would allow him to grow and be recognized as the standard for PD’s in 2019.
So again, let’s congratulate LJ Mattraw as the 2019 Best Practice Award Winner for Program Director of the Year. Your dedication to quality leadership, culture and professional growth has made you and the entire Schererville team an example of excellence in Parisi Nation.