Steel Sports, which operates and manages participatory and experience-based youth sports and exercise businesses including National Youth Baseball Championships, Baseball Heaven, and UK Elite, announced that Tommy Lasorda, Dusty Baker, Bobby Valentine, Julie Foudy, Nancy Lieberman, Jim Thompson, Frank Catalanotto and Urijah Faber have been named to a new advisory board. These sports and coaching leaders will serve as Steel Sports ambassadors promoting the company’s mission of improving the youth sports experience and enriching children’s lives.
Lasorda, Baker and Valentine made appearances at last summer’s National Youth Baseball Championships at Baseball Heaven in New York, where they met with teams and players and conducted a roundtable to share their love of the game and pass along advice to players, coaches and parents in attendance. This winter, Baker and Thompson conducted “Ask the Experts” webinars to educate coaches and employees within Steel Sports, Baseball Heaven and UK Elite Soccer. Steel Sports received such a tremendous response from these experiences that the company created this new advisory board so that these positive role models could continue these initiatives and play a larger role in Steel Sports going forward.
Each advisory board member will attend Steel Sports events, take part in “Ask the Experts” webinars and provide guidance and content about sports and coaching that will be distributed to coaches, parents and kids themselves.
“What sets this group apart, aside from their achievements on the field, are the tremendous leadership qualities each one has displayed throughout their lives,” Steel Sports CEO David Shapiro said. “Steel Sports is incredibly fortunate to have such an accomplished group of advisors who believe in our vision of improving youth sports as a whole where we can use it as a vehicle to change the trajectory of our nation’s youth.”
Four of the advisors – Lasorda, Baker, Valentine and Catalanotto – have had careers in Major League Baseball. Lasorda managed the Los Angeles Dodgers to two World Series titles in 1981 and 1988 and was named to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997.
“We are forever grateful to Tommy Lasorda for providing the inspiration to start Steel Sports,” said Warren Lichtenstein, founder and chairman of Steel Sports. “In our short time as a company we have been able to make a difference in many kids’ lives through sports. We also plan to build an alumni network of the athletes that have been through our programs, start a mentoring program and add additional coaching and sports leaders to the advisory board.”
A National League All-Star as a player, Baker is the only three-time Manager of the Year in baseball history and currently manages the Washington Nationals. After a 10-year playing career, Valentine managed for 23 seasons in MLB and the Japanese Pacific League. He is currently the Sacred Heart University athletic director in Fairfield, Conn. Catalanotto enjoyed a 14-year MLB career with five different teams and is now the lead instructor at Baseball Heaven’s Steel Sports Academy in Long Island, where he grew up.
“I like the direction Steel Sports is taking with our young people by challenging them mentally and physically,” Baker said. “Sports had a major role in shaping the person I am today, and it’s important we extend as many of those opportunities to today’s youth as we can.
Foudy, an analyst on ESPN and ABC, won two FIFA Women’s World Cup titles and two Olympic gold medals during her 18-year career with the U.S. women’s national soccer team. A pioneer as both a basketball player and coach, Lieberman was the first woman to play in a men’s professional basketball league and coach a men’s professional team. She is currently an assistant coach with the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.
Thompson is the founder and CEO of Positive Coaching Alliance, a national non-profit organization transforming the culture of youth sports and on track to reach 20 million youth athletes by 2020. Faber, a mixed martial artist and former champion from California, is currently ranked No. 3 in the official Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight rankings. He has the most wins in that division (nine) and owns a career 33-8 record.
While Steel Sports has aligned itself with companies and partners that believe in improving youth sports into a more positive and fun experience that instills strong character qualities, the company now has a distinguished group of individuals to help carry that message.
“As those who have played sports know it can build character, and what you learn by playing is the foundation for what you do in life,” Foudy said. “I’m passionate, and I know Steel Sports and the other advisory board members are passionate about giving more athletes the sports experience they frankly deserve.”