NextPlay is pleased to announce the first three full-time hires in the company’s history.
“Ashleigh, Bryon, and Thomas are all former student-athletes who have first hand experience with athlete transitions, alumni engagement, and the power of connected communities,” explained NextPlay Founder & CEO Kyle Mumma. “All three new team members will play a critical role in the accelerating growth of our business and the continued empowerment of thousands of current and former athletes already using our platform across the country.”
The new hires were a key strategic initiative for the business made possible by the continued growth of NextPlay’s customer base and a seed round of funding closed last month.
ASHLEIGH SMITH – CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE LEAD
Ashleigh will oversee all aspects of the customer experience from onboarding to renewal. She will train all new customers on the platform and assist customers in the training of all users. She will also lead collaboration with customers on developing content, driving engagement and gathering insights to improve the customer experience. Lastly, she will provide simple technical support and be the liaison between customers, users, and the NextPlay product team.
“Ashleigh has a wealth of experience in student-athlete services at a variety of schools ranging from Power 5 institutions to much smaller departments,” Mumma said. “Her process orientation and attention to detail will be pivotal in setting our partners up for efficient use and sustained success on the NextPlay platform.”
Ashleigh comes to NextPlay from TCU where she was an Athletic Academic Advisor for three years. Before TCU, she worked at UNC-Charlotte for nearly two years as Assistant Director of Academic Services & Tutor Coordinator. Prior to her time in Charlotte, she was an Athletic Academic Advisor at University of the Incarnate Word for three years. Ashleigh began her career in athletic administration as an Academic Services intern at Iowa State and UTSA.
“I chose NextPlay because of the impact it can have with current and former athletes,” Smith said of the new role. “It’s mission and values align with mine and I was excited to learn of all the ways it can address a much needed area of improvement for athletes.”
A Detroit native, Ashleigh is a former softball student-athlete at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. She additionally holds a masters degree in education from Iowa State University.
BRYON WESLEY – GO-TO-MARKET LEAD
Bryon will oversee the sales process at NextPlay from start to finish. He will also lead the evolution of the brand strategy, looking to create a clear and concise brand identity across marketing channels. Lastly, he will coordinate with the Business Analyst, Thomas Hartshorn, on the content marketing strategy.
“Bryon will be primarily responsible for helping prospective partners to understand the value of our offering and how it can be uniquely beneficial to each program or department.” Kyle said. “His experience as an athlete and his authentic passion for NextPlay’s work make him the perfect advocate not only for our business, but also for our customers and users.”
Bryon comes to NextPlay from The Edge Fitness Clubs, where he worked various positions including VP of Sales and Senior Area Director for nearly four years. Before working at The Edge Fitness Clubs, he was a Senior General Manager for 24 Hour Fitness for three years and a Branch Manager for Enterprise Rent-A-Car for the three years prior. Bryon started his career in South Korea in 2008, where he was an English As a Second Language Instructor.
“As a former college athlete with a passion for improving student-athlete outcomes, my values were perfectly aligned with NextPlay and their desire to affect positive change for both athletes and universities,” Wesley explained of his motivation for joining the team. “As I learned more about the technology, I realized that this was something special. The marriage between our aligned purpose, the innovative platform, and the far reaching impact it will have for athletes and universities alike made working for NextPlay an opportunity I couldn’t refuse.”
A San Diego native, Bryon is a former basketball student-athlete at Menlo College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.
THOMAS HARTSHORN – BUSINESS ANALYST
Thomas will oversee research and development to keep NextPlay’s products and services up to date in a rapidly evolving industry. He will assist with the ideation, implementation, and testing of new product features. Thomas will also work with the Go-To-Market Lead, Bryon, on developing and evolving the marketing strategy. Lastly, he will manage internal operations and communication.
“Thomas was the first student-athlete that we ever interviewed as part of a NextPlay engagement. His honest feedback and insight into the student-athlete experience laid the foundation for our work at Campbell University and set NextPlay on a path to growth,” Mumma noted. “Since that first interview he has stayed engaged with our work and put our career development lessons into practice, which has led him to this point. He will be a versatile member of the team whose contributions will touch every facet of the business.”
Thomas comes to NextPlay from Old Dominion University, where he was Athletic Academic Advisor and Student-Athlete Development Assistant over the past two years. Before his stint in Norfolk, he was a Student-Athlete Development Assistant at his alma mater, Campbell University.
“One of the most important things for me in my career is having an impact, and that is one the core components at NextPlay. The customized approach to career development and the opportunity to have an impact on student-athletes nationwide really appealed to me,” Hartshorn shared, “I’ve known Kyle for a few years and have always told him that I would love to work with him to pursue NextPlay’s mission. Now, I have the opportunity and I can’t wait to get started!”
A Raleigh native, Thomas is a former football student-athlete at Campbell University where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s in Business Administration.
The NextPlay platform aims to elevate athlete outcomes, amplify alumni engagement and enhance donor impact. NextPlay provides employees with a professional opportunity where they are valued, empowered, and excited to contribute to a growing business organization.
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