This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Eagles Elite Sports, LLC's first ever evaluation camp at The Edge Sports Center in Bedford, Ma. In only their second year, it is clear that Eagles Elite is onto something special. With a team made up of women who have played at the pinnacle of their sports, including the Olympic, Professional, & Division I level, their mission is to inspire the next generation of female athletes to reach their goals - on & off the field & ice.
A group of elite female athletes starting their own business, with a true passion for making a difference. They are creating a company that provides Hockey and Lacrosse camps, clinics, and private team sessions for young female athletes, and an opportunity for these girls to learn from the experiences, struggles, and triumphs of multiple elite athletes. Their camps and clinics are a perfect balance for girls who want to better themselves as players and as people, while also having fun and making friends.
I interviewed founder Toni Ann Miano - a former Boston College ice hockey standout who was awarded 2018 Hockey East Defensemen of the Year & All-America honors - to hear more about her experience in starting Eagles Elite, and what inspired her to do so!
How did the idea of Eagles Elite Sports come about, and why did you decide to start this organization?
Throughout my college career, I was inspired by the amount of young female athletes we had at our games running around, cheering, or leaning over the banister to shake our hands as we came off the ice, all dressed in their hockey jerseys. I immediately wanted to influence the next generation and be able to be a resource for them through their development stages. I decided to start Eagles Elite Sports to connect athletes to role models who can share their stories and help guide these impressionable young girls as they become women.
In addition to the technical skill development, I wanted to focus on the mental preparation for athletes away from the rink or field to empower girls to practice healthy lifestyle habits. During our camps, we construct “chalk talk” sessions throughout the week, which include: goal-setting workshop, nutrition presentation, guest appearances from current Division I coaches, Q&A with Olympic Gold Medalists and professional athletes. Our staff members also shared the challenges and obstacles of their own careers. We believe this is a great opportunity for young determined athletes to hear from professionals who played at the pinnacle of the sport and learn through their experiences.
How did your experience playing college athletics help give you the courage and passion to start your business?
Playing at the Division I level taught me how to be determined, dedicated, responsible, and resilient. It also taught me skills like time management and communication, which have been invaluable to me in the “real world.” These are lessons I have carried with me as I built my own business. The most rewarding part of playing the game, however, is the strength and confidence that came from being an elite female athlete. This is what pushed me to make the jump into the business world, something completely foreign to me. I was as passionate about my hockey career in representing Boston College as I am now to grow Eagles Elite Sports, LLC and influence as many young athletes as I can.
What were some challenges getting your business off the ground? How did your experience in athletics help you get over these obstacles?
As I started advertising for my first camp in the summer of 2018, I was a small fish in a big pond. I was competing against organizations who are more well-known and established. I knew I was going to face many challenges on this endeavor, but I also knew from my college career that I could overcome them. My passion for my mission drove me to prevail over these obstacles and make my competition irrelevant. I focused on the vision of Eagles Elite and paved the way for myself as a business owner. I can relate this to my college hockey career because starting out as a freshman, the little fish, I had to gain respect and set goals day by day to achieve my overall mission.
What was your first year of camps like? What have you learned from this experience?
In the summer of 2018, we had two hockey and lacrosse combination camps in Hingham, MA from 9-3pm. Between the two camps, we had 50+ girls ranging from the ages of 7-16 years old who mostly played both sports. The first year of camps exceeded my expectations; not only was I impressed with the amount of girls we reached, but also with the talent level we were able to coach. Our camps were up-beat, educational and fun as we focused on technical skill development and empowered girls to be the best versions of themselves on and off the ice. I have learned that I am in the right industry and that I love what I do, whether it’s the business management or the customer service or the on ice skill development sessions. I also saw the positive influence female coaches can have on female athletes, which inspires me to grow the game.
What advice do you have for young kids trying to chase their dreams?
Do you have plans to expand?
Yes, I have plans to expand to 4-5 different locations in Massachusetts and I would love to expand to my home rink in Westchester, NY. However, I truly believe in quality over quantity. As I go into my second summer, I will expand to 1 or 2 more locations and be able to grow our pool of young determined female athletes. I also plan on differentiating camps by main camp focuses or positions (Ex. A defensemen battle camp, scoring camp, stickhandling and shooting camp).
How do you see Playeasy helping you and your company?
Playeasy helps me find available facilities who are willing to host an Eagles Elite event, which is very helpful. I am able to focus more on the business’ brand and stay connected to my athletes and families, rather than spending hours on the phone with facilities. Playeasy has been very helpful and has taken a lot of work off my plate, which is indispensable to me at the crucial building stage I am currently in.
Visit eagleselitesports.com to learn more about Eagles Elite Sports, LLC's services & meet their staff.
Check out some of the great work they are doing!