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St. Albert teen finds success with job matching business for athletes

Soccer fan Tristan Longworth started the business to help young athletes make enough cash to support their sports endeavours
Young entrepreneur Tristan Longworth holds door hangers for his business Game Plan Services.

Fifteen-year-old soccer fan Tristan Longworth loves travelling to play his favourite game.

He’s visited soccer clubs in Portugal and Italy to learn about different cultures and become a better athlete.   

But raising the funds to go on overseas trips took him months of summer work — mowing lawns, raking leaves and hauling dirt.

It’s something he knows most people his age might have a hard time with, especially as Alberta’s unemployment rate creeps higher, and finding work at some entry-level jobs, at least in St. Albert, has become increasingly competitive. Many families also can’t afford sports trips.

That’s why Longworth started Game Plan Services, a business that connects young athletes with work in the community.

“This business was really meant for athletes in need of quick money that would also work around their school and sports time,” Longworth said.  “Instead of them committing to McDonald’s or Tim Hortons jobs that would take up most of their days … I decided to make a business where I could help them out finding like little jobs where they could do landscaping, walking dogs or helping people out in their community.”

He started last spring by simply asking his teammates if they needed jobs. Then he reached out to local sports clubs, who in turn shared with other young athletes. One year later and the Game Plan team is over 50 members strong and continuing to grow.

The project has been a lesson in marketing, as Longworth has done door-knocking, email and social media campaigns to get the word out.

And although the goal is to have athletes and customers connect directly, he’s matched customers with athletes, regularly emailing athletes when work opportunities arise.

“We get emails back within minutes,” he said.

“It's really just a matter of hard work, squeezing in the time,” when it comes to balancing school, sports and his business, Longworth said.

He’s had some help from his mom, he admitted.

“The athletes are making anywhere from $15 an hour to $25 or $30 even,” Longworth said. “There's some pretty generous people out here in St. Albert.”

There’s also been no shortage of work.

“Our future goal is to spread ourselves around in Canada when we get bigger, but for now we're staying in St. Albert and Edmonton.”

Velia Shute, 15, started with Game Plan last October.

“I got an invite from my own hockey team … and I jumped on that opportunity very, very quickly,” Shute said.

Through Game Plan, Shute found work coaching power skating.

“I did a whole bunch of private lessons on outdoor arenas, after school, on weekends, and then we would also be hired into hockey teams ... teams from U7 all the way up to U18,” she said.

This summer, she’s applying for work at retail spots around St. Albert, but she knows that the market has been difficult for young people trying to land their first jobs.

With Game Plan, she found work every week throughout the winter, and she plans to continue working with them when opportunities arise.

“It’s great for student athletes,” she said.

Astrid Casavant found Game Plan found through a Facebook ad.

She and her husband Mickey Casavant have an acreage that requires lots of upkeep – digging out perennials, pruning spruce trees and pulling weeds.

“We thought it was something we could try to help the kids but also get some work done that we're unable to do anymore,” she said. “They were really good. We’d talk to them about their soccer and their schooling and where they were going [on trips] …  so we got to know them other than just working.”

Casavant would regularly have to pull the youths away from their work to come inside and have drinks because of the heat.  

The regular visits sparked a friendship between Casavant and Longworth. They bonded over a mutual love of '60s and '70s rock music. Now she sees him as a very good friend, she said.

It’s a sentiment that Longworth shares.

He said he hopes that Game Plan can help foster relationships between young athletes and the community.  

“It's important to me to help the community out with the little things that we can do,” he said. “People just need that helping hand.”

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