By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – The app Sports Thread has become a key part of the recruitment process for some student athletes who use the Colorado based platform to communicate with coaches and show their highlights. The COVID-19 pandemic has cancelled schedules and prevented travel, making the opportunity to connect virtually essential for teens in high school who want to play college sports.

“The goal has always been to connect student athletes with potential colleges and create an opportunity for them to move on to school for free,” said Sean Leary, founder & CEO of Sports Thread. “We’re seeing athletes from all over the country downloading the application to network with potential colleges to try and get exposure and continue their athletic career.”

(credit: Coons family)

Athletes, parents, coaches, and tournament organizers all use the app regularly, according to Leary. Sports Thread has 400,000 registered users with the average person using it 13 times in one week. Launched in 2017, the company was already growing when earlier this year the Coronavirus showed students how the app could be a useful tool to keep the conversation going while everyone stays home.

“It’s definitely been difficult because all the gyms are closed, all the weight rooms are closed,” said John Coons, 18, a basketball player who lives in Oklahoma. “It reminds me of Twitter, because the feed’s the same, there is direct messages.”

Coons says he doesn’t feel like his time in high school is over and that he is about to graduate. He is excited to move forward with his athletic career though, considering multiple offers including one he got with the help the app. He has not decided where he will go yet and knows just like this year, the next season could be shortened because of the virus. But he remains optimistic about his future and playing the sport he loves.

“To see 15-, 16-, 17-, and 18-year-old athletes saying you know what, I may not be able to play, but I have film, I can put that film out, I can network, I’m going to put the work in, I’m going to get in touch with dozens and dozens of colleges and make sure that I don’t have my career ended is inspiring,” Leary told CBS4 on a video conference call.

He says these athletes know that COVID-19 is out of their control but they remain motivated to use whatever tools and methods available to pursue their passion. Sports Thread was already emerging as part of a similar trend in other industries, where technology disrupts the previous method for access. During the Coronavirus outbreak, more people are turning to the app and its creators don’t think that will change even when the virus is gone.

(credit: Coons family)

“By providing a platform where those connections can happen, I think that we’re starting to shift the way that people look at making those connections,” Leary said.  “The way that we’re facilitating these connections and providing a broad platform is certainly shaking things up.”

Leary also says athletes should not be discouraged by the challenges sports are facing at the moment because of COVID-19. He believes they can still commit to programs across the country if they keep at it during the pandemic.

“If an athlete is willing to do the work, and be persistent, and reach out to those schools, and show them their character and talent, they can find a place to play,” he said.

Coons says the options in front of him are because of the app and he would recommend other athletes looking to make a move like he will soon to consider using it too. Over other services, the cost is free to users. He says that was an important factor in deciding to work with it while in high school.

“It’s definitely helped in my recruiting, because once I got that first offer that they helped me with, I got three more and  I have interest coming in,” he said on a video conference call. “That definitely jumped started my recruiting process so I would recommend it to anybody who wants to play at the next level.”

Shawn Chitnis