UWEC Entrepreneurs: Tomas Benzo

a summer soccer program will launch him into the wide world of sports analytics

UW-Eau Claire News

Tomas Benzo turned his passion for soccer into a successful business when he and a friend launched Next Level Soccer, a summer youth soccer program in Rochester, Minnesota.

Soccer has continued to grow in popularity for kids in Rochester, and an increasing number of teens want to play soccer at more competitive levels, Benzo said. Yet there were few opportunities outside of the organized soccer programs for youth to receive the kind of hands-on coaching that will help them build their skills, he said.

"I’ve been into soccer my whole life. Being from argentina, it’s kind of in my blood." –  Tomas Benzo

“We looked at the numbers and realized that this was an untapped market,” said Benzo, a native of Argentina whose family now lives in Rochester. “I’ve been in soccer my entire life; being from Argentina it’s kind of in my blood.”

Next Level Soccer served nearly 20 soccer players during its first summer, which is small, but right about the number he determined they could serve and do it well.

Having the opportunity to combine his interest in business with his love of sports was rewarding, said Benzo, who hopes to continue nurturing those dual passions by pursuing a career in sports analytics, a growing field within the world of professional sports. Professional teams are using sports analytics for everything from player skill development to in-game decision-making to contract negotiations, he said.

His experiences with the business is making his coursework even more meaningful, Benzo said.

“Everything is just resonating with me in a different way,” Benzo said. “I went through this whole process of making decisions and not being sure they were the right decisions. Through my classes, especially when we have entrepreneurs come in to share their path and their ups and downs, I’m figuring out what I did right and maybe could have done differently.”