News | July 16, 2015


Alum launches league for sports-minded youngsters

2 - minute read

Tony Korson is passing on his passion for sports to the next generation, along with a healthy dose of camaraderie, fair play and team spirit.

A 2005 FGCU graduate, Korson is the founder and CEO of Koa Sports, a nonprofit in the Washington, D.C. area that offers sports programs for kids between the ages of 6 and 18.

Ton Korson, far right, launched a sports league for city youth.
Ton Korson, far right, launched a sports league for city youth.

It’s a natural progression for Korson, who played baseball as a youngster and was a left-handed pitcher on FGCU’s first-ever baseball team. He heard about FGCU through a college advising program, visited the campus and fell in love with the weather, the baseball program, his teammates and his professors. His degree in finance has served him well as a business owner.

Korson, 32, returned to the Washington area where he grew up and founded Next Level Baseball, which trained and placed nearly 30 high school ball players in universities around the country.

But while baseball was his passion, Korson says it was difficult to make a living on one sport.

He remembered the vital role his coaches and mentors played in his life and wanted to pass that on to other youngsters.

Koa aims to “shape kids’ lives through sports” using four core attributes – Positive, Dedicated, Team First and Fun – and runs the leading sports leagues in the nation’s capital and Montgomery County, Md.

With four sports to choose from – baseball, girls’ field hockey, flag football and basketball – Korson says his players learn not only about sports, but about life.

“With all the video games and iPads out there, it’s difficult for kids to build relationships,” he says. “That’s what we’re all about.”

Koa handles registration, scheduling, uniforms, coaching and administration using a paid staff of nine and another 200 part-timers, most of them coaches. “Most youth leagues use volunteers and parents as coaches,” he says. “Ninety-five percent of our staff is trained and paid.”

The organization derives its income from registration fees.

In addition to league play, Koa – the Hawaiian word for strength – offers well-attended summer camps, skills clinics, all-star games and tournaments.

Korson has maintained close ties to FGCU. He’s hired several FGCU students as coaches for his summer camps, and in the past three summers, five FGCU baseball players have participated in Koa’s collegiate team. Korson finds them host families and doesn’t charge them to participate.

He hopes his program will be around for generations to come, just like the baseball league that taught him teamwork and sportsmanship when he was young.

“We’ve seen a lot of success stories, and they only continue to grow.”

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