For student-athletes playing the long game with their academic and athletic careers, Team Cura enhances scholarship odds and increases college readiness, said Rob Hughey, detailing an online training program that exercises professionalism like a muscle.
“We want to make the process really streamlined,” said Hughey, who co-founded the Kansas City-based startup alongside his mother, Karen Hughey, a serial entrepreneur and educator.
Topics tailored for young people range from communication and time management to social media presence and personal brand development — key coming-of-age skills for Gen-Z student-athletes.
“Whether they go on to play at the college level and they make the varsity soccer team or go on to college and just want to be a student … we want to help young men and women so that they can avoid some of the pitfalls that I went through and that we went through as a family,” Rob Hughey continued, recalling his experience as a golfer at Blue Valley West High School and eventually the University of Central Missouri.
“I was a student-athlete at the high school level and really didn’t make myself marketable to potential college coaches and institutions that I was interested in … I didn’t have a ton of offers coming to my table my senior year,” he explained, noting Team Cura improves the odds for students in similar situations.
Team Cura is among the most recent startups to receive funding through the Digital Sandbox KC proof-of-concept program.
While a bonus point on any resume, on-field talents alone won’t get a student-athlete into the college of their dreams,” Karen Hughey added. “And it’s even more unlikely they’ll carry them through to retirement.”
Team Cura offers a video-based Skills Beyond Drills course that prepares students for the college environment and offers necessary interpersonal skills training that helps them on a path toward professionalism.
“In education, to really learn something, you need to hear it several times and practice it, so it becomes kind of muscle memory. They’re hearing it in a different way that oftentimes will resonate,” she continued, joking she wished the course had been available when Rob was applying to colleges and using her email address.
“He didn’t always listen to me. … It’s important for the high school students to get this information in a different context than coming from their parents per se or coming from school,” Karen Hughey added. “That is a huge benefit for the parents and for the athletes, coaches, schools, clubs or organizations that are really trying to instill these character-driven interpersonal skills and professionalism in their athletes.”
A year-long version of the Skills Beyond Drills course is available online for a $229 enrollment fee and includes a college alignment test that helps students narrow their college options. A light version can be purchased for $59.
Click here to enroll a student in the Skills Beyond Drills course.
In the days of COVID-19, the course’s virtual format hasn’t missed a beat, Karen Hughey said.
“The program was always designed to be online, so it was an easy shift for us to be able to move into this world where we’re having a Zoom call,” she said. “We have found that we’re able to reach a lot more students because virtual platforms are very commonplace now — whereas people weren’t doing it too much in the past.”
Two years into its journey, Team Cura has already helped a number of student-athletes reach their goals — thanks in part to a strong relationship with the Blue Valley CAPS program, Rob Hughey said.
“In our spring semester CAPS group, there was an awesome young man. He was a high school track runner and he was getting recruited to a couple of universities. It was his senior year and he got injured and he was unable to compete in the spring season,” he recalled, adding Team Cura helped the student get back on track when a slew of recruiters lost interest.
“He went on to talk to the University of Kansas track and field team and was able to obtain a walk-on position based on working with us.”
Not only did the courses give the student encouragement to work through his injury, they helped him land — and successfully lead — critical conversations with the team’s coach, Rob Hughey added.
“It might be a little cliche, but I always like to say I got my first job out of college by handwriting that CEO of the company a thank you note — and he remembered it six months later at the national sales convention,” he recalled.
“This young man that we worked with wrote the coach a thank you note. Seeing that go off in his head and [him realize,] ‘Oh, wow, this is something I never thought about’ … We take a lot of pride in that and having people realize small wins can lead to big victories.”
Such a line of thinking pushed the company to double down on its internship program, offering college students one additional thing to bolster their resume with, Karen Hughey explained.
“We can reach high school students and help them realize their sports dream, the advantages sports really give to a college student who’s going into the working world,” she said, noting the company’s work with students from the University of Central Missouri and her experience as an educator at Johnson County Community College.
“When somebody really wants to get better and they want to learn and that light bulb goes on, that is what is really invigorating for me,” Karen Hughey said. “So we help them learn, get better, and realize those dreams that they want to aspire to — but might not know how to get there.”
Click here for more on Team Cura’s internship program.