Gabe Lozano played baseball as a student and is now a serious baseball fan. A very serious baseball fan. A very, very serious baseball fan so dedicated to sports that he is the Co-Founder/CEO of the LockerDome, an online website “Where athletes are found.”
“The same as Facebook has become our social identity and LinkedIn has become our professional identity, LockerDome is quickly becoming an athlete’s sports identity,” according to Gabe. LockerDome promotes that “In less than 60 seconds you can launch a sleek, customizable website for your club or high school sports program. Your website is also your own sports social network where athletes can create profiles, upload media, and gain national exposure.”
On March 10, 2011, I posted a story on Women’s Month 2011: Shake the World and I included Justine Siegal, the first woman to pitch batting practice to a major league baseball team. On April 29, Gabe left a comment on my blog stating that LockerDome was working with Justine to launch a girls’ baseball network through Baseball For All which aspires to connect with 100,000+ participants in girls’ baseball. Gabe and I had a conversation and he agreed to be interviewed. It was only recently that he had the time to answer my interview questions. Fortunately, Gabe has been busy managing the growth of LockerDome.
LH: What was the spark of inspiration that led you to create the LockerDome website?
GL: I found myself sitting around all the time recalling sports stories from the 17 years of my life that I played baseball – they are some of the best memories that I have. I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if I had a more tangible way to reflect back on my sports life. Carrying this thought to a more general level, I’m convinced that we have three big personas in our lives – our social persona (Facebook covers this well), our professional persona (LinkedIn covers this well), and our sports persona, which no one covers very well. With that in mind, we came up with the idea of creating an identity system that can encapsulate our entire sports persona and scrapbook our entire sports life—from playing little league baseball to 30 years later coaching our kids soccer games.
LH: How do high schools use LockerDome?
GL: The bulk of our current customers are club sports programs, leagues, governing bodies, and showcase organizations, as opposed to high schools. The programs we work with have a reach over more than 700,000 athletes and include a lot of the top amateur sports talent in the country. For example, East Coast Pro Showcase, is a baseball showcase that annually has more than 40% of the 1st round MLB draft picks participate. We see a variety of use cases. Club programs use it to manage their teams and as a repository for their parents and athletes to upload media content and interact around their brand. We just launched an iPhone app where parents can upload video footage and post status messages directly from the field. We additionally see larger organizations, such as Baseball For All, that use it as a way to strengthen their brand by centralizing content and communication online, within their own sports community.
LH: Is there any pushback from parents seeing their children up on the web?
GL: Not so far. This has been one area that has been a pleasant surprise. Here’s why – imagine if you had two videos: one video was of you rolling around on the floor with your kids playing and laughing and the other video was of your kid hitting her/his first little league homerun. The first video—the one of you rolling around on the floor with your kids laughing—is something that you would consider rather private and would either not post it online anywhere or perhaps post it on Facebook behind a wall where only your friends can see it. The second video, however—the one of your kid hitting her/his first little league homerun—is something that you are so proud of that you want everyone in the world to see, regardless of whether or not you even know them.
LH: There are many parents who are proactive and want to help their child have a career in baseball. How will being part of LockerDome help that child be seen by the right scouts?
GL: We shy away from calling ourselves a recruiting service. Most of the services out their calling themselves recruiting services are selling snake oil. With that said, when an athlete creates a profile within the LockerDome community, his/her information becomes part of a rapidly growing database of athletes from around the country. As we continue to gain scale, LockerDome will be the first place that scouts and others go to find information.
LH: What’s your long-term goal for LockerDome?
GL: The same as Facebook has become our social identity and LinkedIn has become our professional identity, we believe LockerDome will universally become an athlete’s sports identity.
LH: Gender equality in sports is of importance to you. The number of women watching sports in person or on TV has been increasing steadily. And the number of women in ownership and management of professional sports has risen dramatically in the past five years. Why do you think this is happening?
GL: As a society we tend to realize that inequality is worthless and toxic – it just generally takes everyone a long time to realize this. Typically this realization happens via the efforts of outspoken pioneers that help us get our heads on straight. In regards to sports, it’s the efforts of women like Justine Siegal that are trending this movement in a positive direction.
LH: You have made a commitment to help Justine Siegal, who, according to an article in The New York Times, is “believed to be the first woman to throw batting practice to a major league team.” Do you anticipate that women will integrate the all-male teams of baseball or other professional sports?
GL: Hard to say, but my gut sense says that we won’t see it on a broad level—at least in my lifetime. With that said, women playing alongside men is extremely important because it proves that women can and do belong in the same sport.
LH: Were you a baseball fan—and/or player—growing up?
GL: Yes, I absolutely loved the game. I used to sleep with my baseball glove at night. I played for 17 years in little league, high school, and in college. Even today, a lot of my favorite life memories are from my time on the baseball field.
LH: What’s your favorite major league baseball team and why? What position would you play if you were on the team?
GL: St. Louis Cardinals. Outside of their rich tradition and St. Louis being one of the great baseball cities, I was born and raised in St. Louis, so it would be blasphemy to say otherwise.
With regards to what position I would play – shortstop. In baseball, a shortstop is the day-to-day quarterback of the team. Shortstop is one of the only positions in baseball where you’re guaranteed to make a significant impact in every single game.
LH: What do you think the future of sports will be? When the players on LockerDome reach the professional sports leagues, are they going to receive similar salaries and benefits to the ones being given athletes today?
GL: The salaries and benefits will likely be even higher, mostly because salaries are entirely driven by the business of the sports. One of the things I always remind people is that if we have a problem with how much an athlete gets paid we should stop attending games, stop purchasing professional apparel, and refrain from watching sports on TV. The more we patronize professional sports, the bigger the business grows. Personally, I accept that at the top of every profession the amount of money that is made that is usually disproportional to the rest of society. While I don’t personally care much for money, it doesn’t bother me that the cream of the crop in most markets make large amounts of it.
LH: At the end of my interviews, I ask my subject, what words of wisdom can you share with my readers? What have you learned in your efforts to create a platform to help those like Justine and others to fulfill their athletic ambitions?
GL: My simple advice to people is ‘don’t die’. I’m not referring to dying in the physical sense, but more so in your ability to continue to pursue your efforts. For LockerDome, each day that we can still turn on the lights, we have the opportunity to make a little more progress and chip away at a very large, fragmented market. For Justine, each day that she continues her Baseball For All movement, she has the opportunity to win more supporters and slowly, but surely, redefine equality in sports.