A few weeks ago, we announced CoachUp’s acquisition of Athletes of Valor (AoV), a platform designed to help veterans transition from service to career by leveraging the power of collegiate sports. We have tremendous reverence for our servicemen and women, and now, with having AoV as a part of CoachUp, we’re excited to be able to help our veterans receive the same benefits from sports that so many high school athletes do.
We’re honored to have Alex Stone, CEO of AoV and now COO of CoachUp, onboard. Alex brings with him experience as a Sergeant in the Marine Corps, experience at Under Armour as both a Development Manager and Product Line Manager, as well as his extensive experience and devotion to building up the AoV brand.
We sat down with Alex, to learn a little more about his background and his plan for an integral relationship of CoachUp and AoV:
CU: Tell us a little about your time in the military:
AS: I joined the Marine Corps when I was a junior in high school—I always knew that was a path I wanted to go. I wanted to serve my country while also challenging myself to accomplish something not everyone has ability to accomplish. I joined the infantry, was attached to an anti-terrorism battalion with a focus on personal security details (PSD). During my time, I was fortunate to work with a smaller team with a more specialized focus, receive some really great training, and have an important role of keeping a commanding general safe, so a little different from a traditional infantry unit. After four years on active duty, over 22 months deployed overseas, it was time to move on to the next chapter in life.
CU: What do you see as your biggest benefit from your time in the military?
AS: There isn’t a specific memory, but I think in general it’s the relationships I’ve made from my time serving. Many of those who I served with are now lifelong friends. You go through so much together as a team and have so many memories that can’t be replicated—both the good and the bad.
CU: What’s your journey with Athletes of Valor (AoV) been like?
AS: When I separated from the Marine Corps, I had no idea I could go to college and play sports. I thought that was part of what I gave up when I joined the Marines. Even if I did figure it out, I didn’t know the first thing about the process, how to connect with coaches, how to get back in sport specific training, etc.
After working in sports, always having this belief that all these programs, resources, etc. should be available to military athletes the way they are to high school athletes, I decided to go all in and figure out how to bring this idea to life. I started by talking with hundreds of coaches, college admissions reps, and veterans who did play sports after their service.
The end result was 100% consistent across the board—military members wanted to learn about how to play college sports after their service, coaches want them on their teams, and schools want them as student athletes.
So, we built it from the ground up.
CU: How do you see AoV and CoachUp working together and growing?
AS: CoachUp has done an incredible job helping athletes get better, bottom line. There isn’t a better company or platform out there that can provide a 5-star service for athletes across the entire country. Our mission at AoV is to provide all the tools and resources for military athletes to be successful. CoachUp now allows us to provide ongoing training opportunities for men and women serving across the country.
I see AoV as an extension to the CoachUp business. There is a lot of overlap, with the only difference being that AoV athletes happen to also serve in the military. They have the same needs as any athlete trying to reach a higher level or accomplish a personal goal. I am excited to find more ways to integrate military athletes into the CoachUp service and ensure they have access to the same tools and resources that every other athlete has.
CU: What do you hope to bring to CoachUp?
AS: My focus with CoachUp is to be part of building the number one sports platform in the country. Obviously, I’m getting up to speed in the first few weeks, but I will be focused on driving new initiatives to provide our CoachUp athletes and coaches more tools and resources to reach their highest potential. In the apparel industry, we used to say we wanted athletes head-to-toe, meaning footwear, socks, pants, shirts, headwear, accessories, etc.
My focus at CoachUp is the same—that at any part of an athlete’s journey—no matter what level—we can help them reach their goals faster.
CU: Tell us about your experience with sports and training:
AS: I’ve been an athlete my entire life, playing football, hockey and baseball. I’ve always had a competitive nature and wanted to excel in everything I took on. I always strived to lead by example and work harder than the guy next to me. I play sports for Swampscott High School, captain of both football and hockey team, inducted to the Swampscott High School Hall of Fame.
Although I had the ability to play in college straight out of high school, I joined the Marine Corps because I wanted to use my ability to defend our country. We trained hard to be ready for any situation that was thrown our direction, and that is where I really focused on all aspects of training, nutrition, etc. In high stress environments, how you prepare your mind and body can really make a difference and be crucial to survival.
CU: What’s life like for you, outside of work?
AS: I currently reside on the north shore of Boston. I’m a proud Boston sports fan and proud father of my one-year old son. Most of my “free time” is spent with my family, exploring and experiencing new things.
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