Far from a shoe-in to ever play post-secondary football, Riley Roy originally launched Northern Built Sports Recruiting largely to put to good use the lessons he had learned along the way, beating the ends and enjoying some playing time as a member of the Waterloo Warriors a couple of years ago.
"I started into this to help kids, like myself, who have the passion to try and get to the next level, to help them get there," he said. Turns out, there was still plenty of learning to be done.
After taking an initial crack at the concept a few years back, Roy would let the concept germinate as he focused on his schooling, studying in the Sports Administration program at Laurentian. He even intermingled some practical experience with a South Dakota based company (Podyum Recruit), getting some hands on experience preparing scouting and player profile reports.
In January of 2019, Roy returned to the drawing board, re-launching Northern Built, and switching gears in a few key critical areas.
"The biggest thing I learned was the importance of making sure the parents are buying in," said the twenty year-old defensive back with the Sudbury Spartans.
"As much as the kids want to do something, with 15 and 16 year old kids, a lot of this falls on mom and dad. One of the things that I did well with the off-season training program was creating a full pamphlet and addressing it to the parents."
"We hosted a full parents meeting before, outlining what we wanted to do, why we want to do it, where we want the kids to go. I'm very open to one on one meetings with the parents. I'm not in this business to make a living doing this."
Yes, Riley Roy envisions himself in a sports-related job, some day. There's a pretty good chance this will require heading south of the border, once his studies are done, immersing himself in a market that is as sports crazed as any on the planet.
In the meantime, he rejigged his original vision of Northern Built. "We had a few different things that we were doing with athletes, but the biggest one that caught on was our off-season training," said Roy. "Football is summer and fall only."
Working alongside friends Josh Duckett and Ben Harris, Roy looked at expanding the window for workouts, beyond just the notion of hitting the weight-room. His program would involve very specific football related drills, with a push towards tailoring the sessions to the particular positional needs of the athlete.
"That was our first step," he said. "We rented the St Charles gym for ten weeks, did some initial testing in week one at Laurentian, then ran drills like you would at a football practice, but geared it to try and develop each individual player."
His first foray at this venture had taught him that patience might be required for the benefits to catch on. "We opened registrations and I had two people register in a three-week span," he said. "A week before it closed, suddenly we had 19 people register."
"I think we registered 23 in total, so we had 18 to 20 showing up every week, kids from grade ten to twelve, mostly." Then, the local entrepreneur took it another step further. "We decided to put together a seven on seven team and enter tournaments - that was really big for us."
"We played in a turfed bubble in Hamilton and went 2-2 in our first tournament, with no equipment. It really helps develop the one on one skills. Our guys even had a chance to learn from from CFL linebacker Anthony Cannon and Canadian Football Hall of Fame quarterback Damon Allen."
With the winter sessions ending just as the Spartans and Jr Spartans opened training camp, Roy crammed one more initiative into his already jam-packed schedule, offering a ten week summer training program for kids in grades eight and nine, all for a very reasonable price of $100/person.
And while it remains to be seen what the 2019-2020 offerings might yet look like, Roy and his co-horts are going to run a week-long football camp for children in grades four to ten, taking place at Sudbury Secondary School from August 19th to the 23rd.
Anyone seeking more information can visit the Facebook page (@NorthernBuiltSR), or contact Riley Roy via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.