Finding the right trainer for a sport can be very difficult; some may be overly expensive, while others may not properly tailor their lessons to an athlete’s specific needs. Graduating Wilton High School seniors John Zizzadoro and Ryan Gabriele saw an opportunity to change that through their new business, Warrior Hub, which provides customized coaching sessions for athletes in grades K-9, given by older, high school athletes.
Zizzadoro and Gabriele were inspired to start their business because they feel high school students can provide a special connection with younger athletes. They say that that lessons with professionals can be highly expensive, and lessons with high school athletes can add an engaging and relatable aspect, combining fun with quality instruction.
The two boys focused on setting reasonable prices; the maximum an individual will pay for a lesson is $40 per hour for one athlete, and the price goes down if more students are added to the group, putting the hourly minimum any one athlete might pay at just $20. The coaches Warrior Hub employs include some of the most talented athletes that play for Wilton High School from nearly every sport.
Because coaching sessions are either private or smaller group lessons, they will be “very personalized, catered to [the athlete’s] exact needs,” Zizzadoro says, and customized for each athlete’s specific strengths and weaknesses.
The duo says that Warrior Hub’s lessons can take place in a variety of locations; parents and athletes can opt to meet Warrior Hub coaches at local Wilton sports fields, including Kristine Lilly Field and WHS’s varsity baseball fields, or schedule sessions in an athlete’s own backyard, providing for an extremely convenient experience.
Warrior Hub’s website allows athletes to personalize their sessions with comprehensive forms to submit for each lesson. This feature includes options to customize the intensity of a lesson–from “just for fun” to “high intensity training”–as well as lesson location, coach requests, specific positions to focus on, or notable medical concerns and allergies.
On its coaching roster, Warrior Hub has coaches for soccer, baseball, football, track, basketball, lacrosse, field hockey and tennis, each of whom has had experience playing his or her sport at the varsity level at Wilton High School. Many of them will even be playing their sports at college, including Gabriele himself, who will be pitching for Franklin & Marshall College in the fall. All the coaches, Gabriele says, are eager to pass their knowledge on to young athletes.
“We advise [our] coaches to have patience, especially with younger kids,” Gabriele says. “We have full confidence in all of our coaches because their requirement is to have varsity experience. The majority of them have taken private and personal lessons from other coaches in the past, and they have the knowledge to be able to pass down their instruction.”
Warrior Hub’s coaches have had years of experience playing their sport in Wilton, giving them another major advantage of understanding just what Wilton coaches expect.
“We’ve been through Wilton’s programs since Kindergarten and we know, at each level, the necessary requirements, where you should be at. We also have personal relationships with many of the coaches involved. So we’ll know many of the kids’ coaches,” Gabriele adds.
Warrior Hub employs a number of skilled WHS athletes, but Zizzadoro and Gabriele say that their search for coaches is not over. They encourage anyone who has varsity experience and is interested in coaching should reach out to them. They particularly need coaches for girls’ basketball.
Gabriele and Zizzadoro’s plans to help Wiltonian athletes will not end when they leave for college in August. They say that there will always be athletes at WHS who will want to be involved, making it easy to maintain Warrior Hub even after they’re away from home. “We can just cycle in varsity athletes, and keep the site running,” Gabriele says. “There’s always going to be a need for personal lessons.”
Plus, the two founders will be available when they come back during the summer, which they predict will be their most popular and busy season.
Next fall, both boys plan to study business in college. They say that running Warrior Hub already has given them a unique experience with business skills that will help them in their future endeavors, including, “marketing, sales, bookkeeping in excel, emails, and organization,” Zizzadoro says.