God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest. ~J.G. Holland
Not often do two people who stay true to their beliefs come together with the same goal in mind and have the drive to avoid possible obstacles along the way. This takes teamwork, trust, faith, integrity, and understanding the importance of building a family-type environment. When I see the bond that Jordan Schoem (Syracuse University class of 2011 graduate who studied Sport Management and Law) and Zack Charles (senior at Yeshiva University in Manhattan, NY studying Business and Management/Marketing) have built, I am reminded of the bond that made Drew and Jason Rosenhaus so successful. Schoem and Charles are aspiring Athlete Agents who, like myself, do not plan to use their schooling to find a job, but rather to create one.
Schoem and Charles met at an internship in the summer of 2010, at a large sports representation firm, immediately realizing that they were the perfect complement to one another. Upon completion of the internship, the two-headed monster began to form as they shared ideas and continued to expand their connections in the player representation field.
Upon Schoem’s recent graduation from Syracuse University, he and Charles began the journey they had originally mapped out: To not only become Sports Agents, but to improve the landscape of the agency business, which has been tainted by illegalities and agents who could care less about their athletes outside of the dollar signs their clients bring in. With the rapidly increasing rate of agent violations, the NCAA has been forced to crack down on agents. The industry is dominated by seasoned, established agents that the majority of athletes gravitate to off of name recognition alone. It is imperative for up and coming agents to know the difficult road that lies ahead of them, and these two entrepreneurs are ready for the challenge.
They were electric together. I refused to believe I just spoke to two guys in their early 20’s, let alone fresh out of school. I began doing research on the two and told myself that no matter how I have to do it, I had to get them to share their story with me for Hoops Jones. I believed in what they wanted to do and knew they would be very successful, as money was not mentioned one time. I have met with many agents in the past and almost always, money is typically mentioned at the earliest convenience. Our schedules often clashed during the day and I was beginning to think my chance at connecting with the two was wearing thin. Then, unexpectedly, I received a phone call at 9 PM. Schoem and Charles took time out of their evening schedule to do this interview, which I am proud to share with all of you: Take notes…
Q: How did you guys meet and begin to form your alliance? Any specific moments you remember that hit you like “Man, I like this guy!” What were you’re first impressions of one another?
A: We met in the summer of 2010 working as interns at a major athlete representation agency in New York City. Upon meeting, we both realized that we had similar career goals and were extremely hungry to break out and take the agency business by storm. We had the same ideologies and felt that the agents today are given too much power; this was the match that lit the fire in our stomachs. We knew that we could be successful together chasing a similar dream. We were competitive with each other in the early stages of our friendship, which only helped us to become closer as a result.
Q: What route to success in this industry do you plan to take that differs from other aspiring agents? What makes you different than the next guy?
A: What makes us different than the “other guys”, is that we have a detailed plan in place and understand what it takes to make it in this competitive industry. We have an eye for not only talent, but talent mixed with a player’s character is something that we look for in players. We may not go for the superstar players, but we go after those who we believe have more going for them than just athletic ability. We want to work with players who will have longevity in their playing careers as well as attributes that make them honorable men on and off the field. Our main focus will be on the players, their families, their futures, and to enhance their brand equity during their playing careers. Brutal honesty, patience, and a heightened agent/client trust factor is what will hopefully set us apart from the collective bunch.
Q: How do you plan to over come the obstacles you are facing and/or will probably face such as youth and the negative connotation that comes along with it, how strict the NCAA has become, or any other obstacles you believe you will encounter?
A: We at Pro Line Agency want to build not just a business and a partnership, but a family. We understand that eventually, there may come a time where we may be faced with difficult obstacles that we will have to get through, however we believe that having a strong core of employees and players who are all on the same page will help us overcome those roadblocks. While NCAA rules are strict, Pro Line Agency has a great sense of understanding of those rules and will eventually dedicate our agency’s vision to follow those rules. We may not agree with all of the NCAA rules, but we will abide by them; rules in this industry are not meant to be broken, just look at the USC Trojans and Reggie Bush, Terrelle Pryor, etc. The list of illegal undertakings in this business goes far deeper than the casual fan can comprehend.
Q: What is the driving force that makes you, YOU?
A: Our competitive edge makes us distinctive from the rest. We understand that we are young and are entering this industry as underdogs, however the realization that we are doubted, pushes us to work even harder to prove that we are destined to be successful. We have a plan, a past, and fully understand that as underdogs, we will have to work even harder to get to where we want to be. Our eventual goal is to create an ethically abiding agency that puts our players long-term career goals first and foremost before our own, which is something that is lacking in the agency business.
Q: At what point did you realize that you wanted to be an athlete agent?
A: We both knew from a young age that we wanted to be athlete agents, however we weren’t positive how we were going to bring this dream to fruition. After working together on the front lines of this business, we discovered the path that we needed to be on to fulfill our goals of succeeding on the business side of sports. We are both prior athletes who know how to handle pressure in tight situations. The professional conduct that we carry ourselves with is the same sense of personal achievement that we want to establish in all of our future players and clients.
Message From Pro Line Agency:
While we are young and enterprising, we at Pro Line Agency are highly motivated and thrilled to begin our careers. Our goal to create a multi-dimensional agency that encompasses not only success on the field, but off the field as well, is what we want people in this business to recognize. Hopefully, each of our future clients will have a specific brand created around their individual skill sets, thus focusing on the overall potential, personality and marketability of each player. Our goal is to always put our clients’ needs in front of our own, which can result in a partnership unlike other athletes/agents who may have a disconnect when it comes to who sees “the green” first.
My very best wishes go out to Schoem and Charles in their “Long Horse Race,” as David Falk, the most influential agent ever, would say. ♦