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Bobcat football alum creates app for student athletes

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Mike and Biran Orakpo stand in front of Brian Orakpo's Tennessee Titans jersey.
InFin & Co.'s team, 2017, at a back to school event in Houston, TX.
Photo Courtesy Mike Orakpo

Texas State alumus and former football player Mike Orakpo is ready to take on the world of sports with his newly announced app, Athlete Connect.

The Houston native was a linebacker for Bobcat Football 2013-14. Orakpo’s older brother and fellow athlete Brian Orakpo will partner with him on this business venture.

Brian Orakpo started his athletic career playing for the University of Texas from 2004-08, before climbing the ladder to play professionally for the NFL. Brian Orakpo played for the Washington Redskins prior to being drafted to the Tennessee Titans, where he finished his career.

Athlete Connect, which has been in the works for months, was announced via Twitter late January. The app will connect athletes to compatible, qualified coaches and trainers in their area, which will initially only be Austin. Athlete Connect is set to have a soft launch in late February, with an official launch in April. With a structure reminiscent of Uber, athletes will be able to pay for and schedule training sessions on the app.

“It was an idea I had in 2015 because I knew this was something unheard of,” Mike Orakpo said. “It had never been done before.”

Athlete Connect is unique because it will allow athletes to identify areas of specialization they would like to focus on when training. Athletes can schedule sessions to work specifically on throwing, footwork or whatever area they feel needs attention. The app allows them to connect with a coach who specializes in their area of need, creating a more customized, targeted approach.

The app will be marketed toward student athletes in the six to 18-year-old age range. The fees associated with the app will be the cost of training sessions. Mike Orakpo wanted to note that the app team will be catering to a variety of budgets.

Similar to Uber, the coaches on Athlete Connect will function as independent contractors. Since graduating, Mike Orakpo is still local to the Austin area. He has stayed present in the local sports and fitness industry and was able to combine a mix of up-and-coming coaches with seasoned vets. Every coach will be background checked and reviewed by Athlete Connect. This variety of trainers will make specialized training more accessible to some student athletes.

“This app will merge the gap and bring players and coaches together,” Brian Orakpo said.

Initially, the app will only serve the Austin area. However, Mike said they plan to expand across Central Texas as soon as possible. Eventually, he hopes to take the app to an international level.

Mike Orakpo said he began playing sports at the age of five. He was a very raw athlete growing up and while he had great potential, he was underdeveloped.

“What I wanted to do was put other kids, like me, in a position to develop themselves earlier,” Mike Orakpo said.

He said many kids grow up in single-parent households where they are often not able to get one-on-one attention. Although coaches tend to try their best, they are outnumbered by players.

Mike Orakpo said it is not plausible for coaches to give each athlete the individual attention they require. The more developed an athlete is at a younger age, the more attention they are likely to receive from interested schools and teams.

Brian Orakpo said the app will cater to athletes who may already be more developed, but are looking for a competitive advantage over other players.

Hayden Matz, health and wellness senior, is an ACE (American Council on Exercise) certified personal trainer at the Student Recreation Center.

Matz has participated in gymnastics, as well as strongman competitions. He said the one-on-one service provided by Athlete Connect is extremely important.

“When you have someone build a program for you, they can come at it from a more objective standpoint,” Matz said. “They are more likely to program stuff you wouldn’t necessarily program for yourself.”

From college football star to up-and-coming app mogul, Mike Orakpo is ready to connect coaches and athletes. Athlete Connect will be coming to Austin-area athletes just in time for summer training. The Orakpo brothers have spent their lives on the field and are ready to help aspiring young student athletes do the same.

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