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i9 Sports franchise opening in Wichita

01/30/2014 2:45 PM

01/30/2014 3:14 PM

WICHITA — It's not uncommon for kids to grow up wanting to be sports stars, but sports enthusiast David Allen had a more unusual dream. He wanted to have a Christian-based youth sports league.

"I like God, and I like sports," he says. "Why not mix the two?"

That's his ultimate dream, but for now Allen is starting with i9 Sports, a Tampa-based franchise that’s a youth sports league geared to girls and boys ages 3 to 14.

"Our main objective is to help kids succeed in life through sports," Allen says.

The name, according to the i9 Sports website, symbolizes its nine approaches to sports: "imaginative, innovative, interactive, integrity-driven, impassioned, inspirational, instructional, insightful and inclusive. i9 Sports literally means 'i to the 9th power'!"

Allen says the program is about building confidence and leadership skills.

Initially, i9 Sports will offer coed flag football, soccer and T-ball in Wichita.

"We're looking at fields on the east side just for this season," Allen says.

The season starts April 26 and goes through June 21.

The next season, which starts in late July, most likely will include west-side fields as well. Allen hopes to add Derby fields by the fall season.

"We're looking to expand season by season just so we can be closer to everybody."

He'll add basketball, possibly this summer, and may add baseball as well.

Allen says it's all about skilled development "rather than the winning-at-all-costs mindset that is so prevalent right now in youth sports."

That means all players will have equal playing time, regardless of their skill levels.

Players will be divided into teams by age, weight and height.

"We pride ourselves in fun," Allen says.

He says that's often missing in youth sports today.

"An alarming amount of kids are dropping out of youth sports because of that."

Parents play an important role, Allen says.

"We have a parent pledge," he says. "We're there for the kids ... so act accordingly."

Allen says it’s to help avoid "crazy parents on the sidelines.”

"It's just a guide for parents to follow so they go into the season not acting crazy,” he says. “In youth sports we really don't need that. You want to build children up ... and that's really what the pledge says."

Allen was in karate when he was little. Then he played basketball, football and baseball. He was a sports management major at Barton Community College.

"I really felt like sports helped me succeed," Allen says."I just love sports."

He's originally from New York state. Then Allen moved to North Carolina followed by Kansas where his physician parents – his mother is a plastic surgeon, and his father is an ophthalmologist – came to practice.

Kevin Allen and Susan Lovelle-Allen are co-franchisees with their son.

Allen says he's in the marketing phase of the business now. Parents can sign up their children at www.i9sports.com. There's also an in-person signing Feb. 1 at Craftapalooza & Fabulous Vintage Market at Century II.

Though much of his dream is coming true, Allen says since the franchise isn't Christian based, "I'm not going to do the God part."

He hopes to in the future, though, through a different business than i9 Sports.

"That's going to give me the background to maybe jump into doing something on my own."

About Carrie Rengers

Carrie Rengers joined The Eagle's Business team in 2002 despite her inability to even balance a checkbook. Fortunately for her, and readers, her Have You Heard? blog is about business scoops and contains lots of news but almost no math.

A Michigan native, Carrie’s father was quite tragically transferred to Little Rock, Ark., in the middle of her sophomore year of high school. To make matters worse, her parents put her in a girls school. She recovered, though, and went on to enjoy being an English major at Hendrix College (the Harvard of the Ozarks, don’t you know). She worked for the weekly Arkansas Business and the statewide daily Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before moving to Wichita to be with her favorite writer and cook, husband Joe Stumpe.

Carrie encourages readers to contact her with tips, questions, behind-the-scenes business news and even funny quotes from business people. Reach her at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com


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