Overland Park startup Team Cura trains student athletes to be more recruitable
Aside from his job as a business development manager, Rob Hughey isn’t unlike scores of American 20-somethings. Likes golf. Plays a lot of it. Won’t turn down a cup of coffee. Gels his hair and wears it long.
Calls his mother by her first name.
That’s because Rob is working with his mom, Karen, the founder and CEO at Team Cura, an Overland Park-based company that offers a purchasable video series geared toward making prospective college athletes more recruitable. They’ve learned to compartmentalize their home and work lives, so the following scenario has played out several times.
It’ll be time for family dinner. Rob will get thirsty. So he’ll call out.
“Hey Kare —” he’ll start.
Then, he corrects himself.
“Mom, can I get a glass of water?”
He laughs as he recalls the story. The change hasn’t happened automatically or even easily. The same goes for the business: mother and son are making every effort to get Team Cura off the ground and build on its 2019 founding.
Their business model is simple enough: offer an online video series for prospective student-athletes that stresses professionalism and spotlights ways its users can build personal brands, communicate effectively with coaches and transition as seamlessly as possible to the next stage in life — in sports or otherwise.
Mostly, their plan revolves around videos. There are four programs: Skills Beyond Drills, Parent Series, Transitioning to College and Team Affiliation Program. Each provides something different.
Athletes receive “Two-Minute Topic” videos that, according to the company website, “help with the daily challenges many students face, like social media, communicating with coaches, time management and more.”
While this section is still listed as “coming soon” on the site, parents, too, are slated to receive “content to help you with the daily challenges many sports parents face — like social media, communicating with coaches, navigating the recruiting process, and more.”
While both Rob and Karen promise videos “light-hearted and captivating” in nature, by now, you might be wondering: Can’t I look this stuff up online? It’s a fair question, especially when you consider that the two also supply guides on how to write thank-you notes. The Internet knows few bounds. There are online tutorials for nearly everything under the sun.
Yet it’s a query Rob, a 2016 Central Missouri graduate, is prepared to answer.
“How to build a rocket ship is probably on Google,” he said, “but are people doing actually doing that? Are people actually taking the time to go out and research how to build a rocket ship or implement a ketogenic diet or fix a leaky faucet? Maybe, maybe not.
“We take the components that are necessary for personally branding yourself to make yourself the most marketable athlete and academic individual going on to the next level, and we put it all in one area that’s easily accessible, where every single person has access to it with (a cell phone) in their pocket. Let’s face it, in today’s day and age, who doesn’t have one?”
For now, Team Cura’s day-to-day operations involve a lot of outreach, Karen Hughey said. Reaching out to parents, students, officials, coaches and the like, all in the name of “getting it launched it and getting it out there so people know who we are and what we’re doing and how we can really impact these high school athletes,” she said.
““That’s the excitement of being an entrepreneur,” Hughey said. “You never know. Every day changes.”
Mom and son may be the company’s only two full-timers, but others are involved, too. Most of them are interns. There’s social media intern Miles Kilgore and video production intern Konnor Gann, and the operation also employs consultant Tyler Hirlinger and video producer Brandon Campbell.
What ties them all together is their relative proximity. Karen Hughey is an adjunct professor at Johnson County Community College, and Rob Hughey, Hirlinger, Campbell are all UCM graduates. Gann is a current student.
The only employee who doesn’t hail from the Missouri area is nutrition consultant Megan Gregory, a South Carolina native who now resides in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Together, their goal is to expand and enlarge the enterprise. That means working with organizations and supplying them with Team Cura’s services.
One of those organizations is the Apex Soccer Academy in Norwalk, Iowa, a youth soccer club that prioritizes the development of local players. Rob Hughey said that following a February visit with the group, Team Cura is in the “onboarding process with them currently.”
The Hugheys have also struck deals with Triumph Performance Institute, the digital media programs at Central Missouri and Johnson County Community College and Courtney Fadler Etiquette.
Karen Hughey added that the company is close to reaching deals with other associations — “There’s a group that really likes our curricula and our approach,” she said — though she declined to offer details because they had yet to become official.
Still, that doesn’t capture the breadth of what Team Cura has accomplished thus far.
The team counts Alex Springer, a professional golfer who won last month’s Watson Challenge in Overland Park, as a client. In a testimonial video posted to the company’s website, Springer cited Team Cura’s course material “as a guide to streamline my approach when contacting potential sponsors and to present myself in a professional manner.”
Malik Bauer, a senior at Blue Valley North High in Overland Park, is another. His involvement came via CAPS (Center for Advanced Professional Studies), the school district’s program that has its own building and offers one-semester courses that occupy some of each students’ day. There, Bauer was shown a Team Cura video and decided to get involved.
A track and field athlete, Bauer is in a position to take advantage of what the corps offers. An injury that sidelined him for much of his senior campaign derailed Bauer’s intentions of signing with the University of Kansas track team, so he plans to meet with KU head coach Stanley Redwine about the possibility of walking on.
For Bauer, that’s where Team Cura comes in.
“It’s kind of scary meeting a coach,” Bauer said, “but there’s detailed videos about meeting with a coach, how you should introduce yourself, and things that aren’t really obvious to someone in high school. I had never been in a situation like that, so it’s a lot of useful information.”
Here’s the thing, though: Springer and Bauer represent two of Team Cura’s few clients. The cupboards are bare under the website’s parent and coach stories, pages that promise viewers that testimonials are on the way. Results have yet to surface.
At the moment, that’s where Team Cura finds itself: under construction. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing, though, and its two full-timers remain persistent.
Even if it means Rob calling his mom by her first name.
“It takes a little bit of thinking,” Rob said, “but it’s not all that bad.”