Jesse Heninger | President | Front Row Sports
Q: What qualities do you look for in representing an athlete?
A: Athletes have to be willing to change. They might need to have to change their mindset, position, location, training regiment, and more. We look for all the obvious qualities, and then the ability to change.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your sports career as a player and agent?
A: I started working in sports in my early twenties after graduating the University of Florida. My first position professionally was working for a sports entertainment company that would travel across the country performing at Single A through Triple A baseball games throughout the summer. Literally visiting dozens of states throughout my summers. Was a great way to see the country and work with tons of organizations, professional athletes, and understand what it really feels like to be “on the road”. After getting out of the sports industry for a couple years doing various other ventures, I found myself partnering up with a colleague and launching a professional Arena Football team in Richmond Virginia in late 2016. The Richmond Roughriders appeared in 2 championships and won 1 in their two seasons at the Richmond Coliseum. After the second year we found out that the city, who owned the stadium, was going to shut it down and destroy the stadium so we were forced to move the franchise. After dozens of cities visited and explored, we settled on moving the team to the WesBanco Arena in Wheeling West Virginia. The team was renamed the West Virginia Roughriders whose last season was in 2019 winning the league championship just months before Covid broke out across the world. In late 2019 I resigned from the Roughriders and took a position as the Director of Marketing and Sponsorship Sales with the Indoor Football League’s Massachusetts Pirates. After incredible efforts by Pirates ownership to play a 2020 season with or without fans, the IFL and the Pirates were forced to cancel the 2020 season. Following the 2020 season, I stepped away from the Pirates to join forces with new sports agent and good friend of mine Ciro Poppiti. I now along with Ciro, look to use our knowledge of sports, connections, marketing background and expertise, to not only help our athletes capitalize on their earned opportunity but to provide an asset and mentor within the wide world of sports.
Q: What motivated you to launch a Sports Agency?
A: I always have had the greatest relationships with the players that I worked with. Sports on a management level for me was so personal. My goal is to help athletes that put everything
Q: How did 2020 and the pandemic affect your professional opportunities?
A: I would be lying if I said that the Pandemic didn’t effect our business. It certainly has. I do think though, that the Pandemic, as a new sports agency, has given our company time to grow while the rest of the world and professional leagues are forced to stand still. We look forward to maintaining momentum as the pandemic lifts, to continue to propel forward and best capitalize on the opportunities that have arisen in such tough times. We look forward to finding those opportunities for our athletes.
Q: What are some of the benefits you provide to the clients and perspective clients?
A: Our agency, through our agent’s and my past endeavors, have gained a good amount of connections and support within the sports industry. Since our agency’s inception we have constantly been on the move, even during the pandemic. From college all-star games to professional combines, we are constantly looking for talent and making connections with the people that can truly help land our athletes on a paying professional roster. Our agency also continues to build it’s vital athlete support system, as FrontRow Sports will soon announce the creation of it’s “Support Team”, which will consist of a team of retired professional athletes from all sectors of sports to help support the current FrontRow Sports athletes in their daily preparation to realize their own dreams and be best prepared for the next level of sports.
Q: What characteristics make an athlete attractive to represent?
A: Responsible. Hardworking. Trustworthy. Honest. Confidence.
Q: How can attending the National Scouting Combine improve an athlete’s stock value?
A: Attending the NSC in my opinion is incredibly important for the athlete pursuing a professional career, especially this year. With the recent cancellation of the NFL Combine and other professional combines and camps around the country, this year more than ever, will be crucial for players to have an opportunity be to seen and have their drill times professionally recorded. What do coaches want to see? Combine drill times and film. The NSC can do both.
Q: What are the benefits to the athlete for having an agent?
A: In most professional sports having an agent is paramount. An agent provides you with opportunity, connections, marketing support, and negotiation power that one wouldn’t have unless they were professionally represented.
Q: How long have you been an agent, what certifications do you uphold?
A: Our agency is almost as new as it gets. We attained our NFLPA Agency certification just before the 2020 NFL Combine and just before the Covid-19 Pandemic hit. We are currently in the processes of attaining our CFL Contract Advisor credentials. Our agency will look to represent athletes across the scope of professional sports as we are also excited to announce that we just began representing professional wrestlers and will look to pursue even more sports as we progress through our initial stages.
Q: What can a player do to make themselves more attractive to pro organizations?
A: Communication is incredibly important. If a player has an email and phone number on their player resume and a coach, scout, or agent decides to call it… answer your phone. I cannot tell you how many players lose out on opportunity in their lives because they were not “paying attention” or ready to strike when the iron became hot. In life sometimes opportunities come quick, and if your not ready, you just might miss them.
Q: Do you believe scouting has evolved for better or worse due to the 2020 pandemic?
A: I think that scouting has just evolved. Not for the better or the worse. I think it will continue to evolve depending on the current status of the sports world and will always look to benefit the teams. I think that with the restrictions some leagues are putting on scouting due to the pandemic, it can hurt the athletes that are from the smaller schools. On the other hand as technology get’s better, more players are able to be seen that would of never been given an opportunity before. Scouting will continue to evolve, as we need to evolve with it. Even more of a reason to get professionally represented.
Q: What do you enjoy most about running a sports agency?
A: I enjoy the grind. The best part of the grind though, is that it’s not always the same thing. From watching film, writing contracts, talking on the phone, traveling, social media, researching marketing opportunities, googling, and somehow finding time to eat. Also the ability to change someone’s life for the better is pretty cool ?
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you have received?
A: Never know who you are. The moment you do, you put yourself in a box. Challenge the unknown and find out what life is like for yourself. Get better every day.