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Mark O’Brien ’93 has been at the helm while LakePoint Sports, a 1,300-acre campus for 32 youth sports near Atlanta, has adjusted its business model for the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo courtesy LakePoint Sports.

Alumni Profile/Alum Leads Youth Sports Complex as It Adjusts to Pandemic

What do you do when a pandemic puts the brakes on the youth sports destination your organization has worked so hard to develop? If you’re Mark O’Brien ’93, president and CEO of LakePoint Sports near Atlanta, you focus on strengthening your team and preparing as best you can for whatever the next normal ends up being.

LakePoint Sports is a 1,300-acre campus of athletic nirvana that offers coaching, camps and competition in 32 sports. With $200 million in physical assets as well as a $100 million economic impact from its 1.1 million annual visitors, pushing the pause button is no small matter.

“We’re not only reforecasting our year and events, but figuring out what our phased reopening will look like,” says O’Brien, who was a catcher on the baseball team during his days at St. Norbert. “We’re aggressively assessing – by sport, by event, by venue – what and how we’ll do it, so when our campus does open back up, we can do it correctly and in a safe manner.”

LakePoint Sports, which coincidentally had ramped up its live video-streaming capabilities prior to the shutdown, now finds itself more prepared for the likely next stage of athletic scouting, coaching and spectating than its competitors. O’Brien sees it as an evolution of what the sports experience might look like, at least in the short term.

He is focusing on internal communication and organizational development while his team waits for games to begin anew. It’s one of the few positives they can control while much of their business remains out of their control. LakePoint Sports has about 40 full-time employees and as many as 200 hourly employees during peak season.

“We’re trying to help our team members stay sharp and prepared, with the knowledge they’re not in this alone,” O’Brien states. “We’ve actually been hiring personnel, specifically around our national platform. We’re evaluating new initiatives for the marketplaces, such as e-sports events we can hold on campus and off.”

Putting in the practice
O’Brien became familiar with LakePoint Sports in his previous position as president and CEO of Mizuno USA. Mizuno partnered with LakePoint Sports to test its sports equipment and provide user feedback. It wasn’t long before discussions with the ownership group led to an offer to lead the organization.

“It goes back to my own experience and seeing the transformational impact that sports can have on individuals,” he explains. “I like the idea of building out not only a profound impact on individuals, but more broadly on society itself.”

A variety of job experiences led to O’Brien down the path to LakePoint Sports. Chief among them were stints as general manager and assistant general manager for two minor league baseball teams.

“Where I am now is a combination of everything I’ve ever done,” he says. “Each of my experiences was invaluable to my development.”

July 24, 2020