The Way Youth
Sports Registration
Should Be

i9 Sports® offers youth sports leagues, camps, and clinics to more than 2.5 million participants across the United States. Their award-winning programming for kids 3 and older drives their mission of helping kids succeed in life through sports such as flag football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, baseball and ZIP Lacrosse™.

Re-architect i9’s web registration and marketing website from the ground up on a mobile-first platform. Bring improved usability, speed, and ultimately a better experience for their current members. Generate new membership for years to come. All while integrating with i9 Sports’ national-scale back-office systems.

Web-based authoring and app-like functionality and responsiveness of a Progressive Web App (PWA) that utilizes i9 Sports’ existing and expansive enterprise systems. Encryption and security best practices to safeguard financial transactions and member information. Cloud infrastructure for quick-burst activity handling.

A fully responsive site/app and headless WordPress implementation, complex registration process, ecommerce functionality and back-office integration. Extensive and high-fidelity public marketing pages and company blog along with an extensive password-protected member, coach and franchisee portal.

challenge

Website, Online Registration and League Management

The i9 Sports project presented a threefold challenge: deliver on a vibrant digital marketing program with an easily managed website, provide a clear and convenient path to youth sports program discovery and registration AND provide robust leauge functionality for members and coaches. All while serving a highly mobile audience, attaining excellent SEO performance and limiting security exposure.

Digital Marketing

The i9 Sports go-to-market strategy relies extensively on a capable digital publishing component. i9 Sports marketers needed the ability to create new pages, edit content (including video) on pages, create blog posts, easily adjust page layouts and publish landing pages – all while delivering solid page response and SEO performance. Newsletter signup prompts and interwoven messaging during ordering are also elements of the new i9 Sports digital presence.

Online Registration

Youth league sports enrollment begins with providing parents the ability to easily find programs of interest to their children in their area. This includes the conveyance of program details including location, cost and requirements. Only then can the site usher parents into a registration flow that takes in multiple pieces of personal info. The new i9 Sports site handles these jobs with aplomb and a combination of elegant UX, quick response times and clear messaging – via desktop computer, tablet and smartphone.

Member Portal

i9 Sports provides an information-rich and frequently updated member area for all registered parents. In this secure section of the site parents can obtain updates on upcoming games, weather conditions and even the ability to sign up to bring a snack for each game! Messaging coaches and receiving alerts are also key features of the member area and is frequently used on phones and tablets while en route to the field.

League Management by Coaches & Franchisees

Without the efforts of regional franchise managers and a plethora of coaches across the country, the i9 Sports leagues would not tick along smoothly. In their own portal, coaches and franchise managers can access sports registration records, parent contact information, issue alerts and perform other key sports league functions. This includes entering game scores, track team standings and issuing game awards (which are visible in the Member portal).

results

final product

"MercuryWorks was instrumental in establishing a strategy for our new presence and user-facing system, including the use of a headless CMS and PWA. Their team was very effective in working with i9 Sports’ IT staff to integrate with our services and internal systems. I highly recommend them!"
Michael Warren
Director of IT

Built Using

The React JavaScript framework provides the UI base for the entire system, providing rapid and smooth data fetching, storage and screen painting. Combined with Next.js from web page rendering, React provides the smooth and rapid UI interactions for customers and company administrative functions.

Through WordPress, client staff can create and manage as much content, pages and multimedia content for the public portion of their website as they would like.  Combined with Next.js, MercuryWorks implemented a headless implementation of WordPress within a JavaScript-based UI that combines the power of WordPress publishing with PHP-less content delivery and seamless application and registration features.

Provides server-side rendering of WordPress and application content in web views in the manner of high-performance static site generators. Reduces “time to interactivity” for site users and vastly improves search engine optimization performance.

Provides a robust data storehouse and query platform to store web content, sport schedules, customer data, ecommerce transactions and other business data. In-cloud SQL Server was used to provide instant scalability and rapid querying.

Provides database storage, web app, authentication and web services. Azure provides an ideal solution for back end mobile applications with a multi-data center Platform as a Service (PaaS) cloud solution that requires extremely little oversight.

Progressive Web App + Headless CMS

i9 Sports’ huge installed base of users, high level of mobile usage and digital marketing initiatives provided an excellent use case for a Progressive Web App (PWA). What was less obvious was a means to provide rich content presentation within a PWA-based web application. The answers was a headless implementation of WordPress mated to a React-based PWA.

MercuryWorks’ source of piped content to the i9 Sports front end was a combination of Next.js and WordPress’s APIs. Using WordPress’s (along with Elementor) robust API back end, Next.js for server-side rendering and React we were able to sidestep a separate WordPress PHP front end. This provided i9 Sports the best of both worlds – single page application (SPA) response time with a plugin-rich back-end authoring platform.

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