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Ramiir Dixon-Conover Signs With IPZ…Paul Racks Up Awards…Alex & Omaha Set For Round of 16…Cento Amici Golf Outing

“Big Cliff” Omoruyi Signs with IPZ…Frank The Tank’s Hot Start…Alex Scores Massive Equalizer…Andrei Makes UFC History”

Quinn’s Big Week and Deal with Metabilia…Alexey’s 60th Win…Frank Schwindel Behind-the-Scenes…Team U.S.A. Picks Brad

Junior Joins; Quinn and Brad Get National Team Experience

Junior Saintel Signs with IPZ

Junior Saintel, a 6’7” guard/forward from Mays Landing, NJ, has signed with IPZ.

Junior played college basketball at Stony Brook University from 2016 to 2018. He played in 64 games for the Seawolves, starting in 58 of them. Before transferring to Stony Brook in 2016, he attended JUCO at Chipola College.

More recently, Junior played for FC Barcelona II and won the Spain LEB Silver Championship. During his time in Barcelona, Junior averaged 8.5 ppg and shot 47% from the field. He is a dynamic playmaker that prides himself on being a vocal leader.

“We were introduced to Junior by Coach Matthew Malc, the head coach of the U.S.A. basketball team in the Maccabi games, and I was a fan of Junior’s in our first call,” said Robert Zito, IPZ Managing Partner. “His love of family, and desire to excel in everything he does, coupled with his accomplishments to date and Coach Malc’s endorsement, translates into a successful future for this young man. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to help.”

 

Quinn Sullivan Called Up to the U-20 USYNT

Image from the Philadelphia Union

Quinn Sullivan was recently called up to the U-20 U.S. Youth National Team. He is one of the youngest players on the team at just 17-years-old.

Quinn and the other 22 players named to the roster traveled to Celaya, Mexico to compete in the Revelations Cup against Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico. This tournament will serve as valuable preparation as the team prepares for upcoming qualifying matches for the 2023 U-20 World Cup in Indonesia and the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France.

“Whenever a client gets the opportunity to represent their country, it is special,” said IPZ Managing Director, Jeff Curtin. “I know Quinn was honored to be a part of this U-20 roster and he is excited for the opportunities that lay ahead in qualifying for both the U-20 World Cup and the Olympic Games.”

To see the full U-20 USYNT roster click here.

 

Brad Smith Participates in Fall Classic and Super Sixes Tournaments

Image from USA Lacrosse

Brad Smith and the U.S. Men’s National Lacrosse team played in the USA Lacrosse Fall Classic last month in Sparks, MD. They competed against Team Canada and the University of Virginia Men’s Lacrosse team.

The U.S. won both matchups, 11-5 against Canada, and 8-7 against UVA.

For the full U.S. Men’s Fall Classic Roster click here.

The following weekend, Brad competed on the U.S. National Super Sixes Roster in Sparks, MD. Super Sixes is the new lacrosse format that will be introduced in the 2028 Olympic Games.

The U.S. played four games, two against Team Canada and two against Team Haudenosaunee, finishing with a 3-1 record.

Brad recorded five goals and seven assists throughout the entire weekend. Sixes will be included in The World Games in Birmingham, AL, summer 2022.

For the full U.S. Super Sixes Roster click here.

Legacy…Olympics…Lax…NIL…Alliance

Quinn Sullivan Continues his Family’s Legacy

Quinn Sullivan (center) reacts after scoring a goal on a bicycle kick during the Union’s game at the Chicago Fire. Photo by Andrew Zwarych / Philadelphia Union

Last week, The Philadelphia Inquirer used Quinn Sullivan’s first MLS goal, an amazing bicycle kick, tying it to the legacy his family has created in Philadelphia.

The article walks readers through the 50-year Sullivan legacy, starting with Quinn’s grandfather Larry, who played at Temple and coached for more than 30 years at several schools, including Villanova.

Quinn’s dad, Brendan, played soccer at St. Joseph’s Prep and Penn, and then played professionally for five years in the U.S. Following his pro career, Brendan coached at Villanova with his dad.

Quinn’s mom, Heike, captained the women’s soccer team at Penn.

“I keep telling people it’s just surreal, right? We’re a soccer family, but it’s just surreal to see him actually on the field,” Heike Sullivan said.

Read the full Philadelphia Inquirer article here.

 

Pat Kivlehan to Represent U.S. at Olympics

Photo by K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union Tribune

Patrick Kivlehan, an outfielder in the San Diego Padres organization, will represent the United States in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics as a member of the USA Baseball team.

Patrick, who is represented by Pro Agents, was drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners. His MLB debut was on August 20, 2016, for the San Diego Padres.

“Pat takes great pride in his selection to the Olympic team. His work ethic and energy have culminated in achieving a lifelong dream in representing his country,” said Dave Pepe, co-President of Pro Agents, Inc.

Kivlehan is originally from Nyack, New York, but attended St. Joseph’s High School in New Jersey. After graduating from St. Joseph’s in 2008, he played on both the football and baseball teams at Rutgers University. Football was his primary sport, playing four years as a defensive back. After his senior year on the football team, Patrick joined the baseball team and was named 2012 Big East Player of the Year, batting .392 with 14 home runs, 50 RBIs, and 24 stolen bases in 51 games.

“It’s a dream come true type of thing,” Kivlehan said to The San Diego Union-Tribune. “Not something that baseball players normally get to experience, so when the opportunity presented itself, I certainly wasn’t going to pass that up.”

The Tokyo Olympics will begin on July 23rd.

IPZ works on marketing and public relations initiatives for Pro Agents and its athletes.

 

IPZ Welcomes Brad Smith as its first Lacrosse Client

Photo retrieved from Duke University.

Brad Smith, a midfielder for the Whipsnakes Lacrosse Club in the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL), has signed with IPZ.

“I’m excited to join the IPZ family, especially being their first lacrosse client,” said Smith. “I look forward to building my personal brand and the game of lacrosse!”

The PLL is a new lacrosse league that has grown in its short three-year existence, landing major sponsorship deals and merging with Major League Lacrosse in December, 2020. Smith is a rising star in his second year in the PLL and is looking to help the Whipsnakes win their third consecutive championship.

“Brad checks all the boxes…smart, personable, driven and a great athlete,” said IPZ Managing Partner Robert Zito.  “He will be an asset for any brand.”

Before being drafted 9th overall in 2019, Smith played his college lacrosse at Duke University and for the New Jersey high-school powerhouse, Mountain Lakes. He was a three-time USILA All-American and two-time ALL-ACC member in college.

 

IPZ to Represent Ithiel Horton Under New NCAA NIL Rules

Photo retrieved from Pitt.

Ithiel Horton, a 6’3″ guard from the University of Pittsburgh, has signed with IPZ under the new NIL rules passed by the NCAA. Horton is currently a redshirt junior and played high school at Roselle Catholic in New Jersey.

As of July 1st, college athletes can profit from sponsorships without losing their eligibility. By signing Horton, Ithiel and IPZ are part of a pivotal moment in collegiate athlete history.

Horton attended the University of Delaware for his freshman year and transferred to the University of Pittsburgh after the 2018-19 season. In the 2020-21 season, Horton played in 22 games, starting in 18, and averaging 8.9 PPG.

The NCAA has changed its regulations to allow college athletes to monetize their name, image, and likeness (NIL). The new rules provide the opportunity for college athletes to sign with agents, which will allow them to sign sponsorships, partnerships and endorsement deals.

“We were fortunate to meet Ithiel and his dad through mutual friends,” said IPZ Managing Partner Robert Zito.  “Ithiel is an amazing young man, who is going to be successful on and off the court.  We look forward to working with him in the months and years ahead.”

 

IPZ Forms Alliance with Playbook +

Playbook +, a St. Louis, MO based consultancy with expertise in sports marketing and advertising, has formed a strategic alliance with IPZ, the companies announced today.

Playbook +, led by John Sheehan, is an experienced and innovative marketing and advertising group with vast knowledge of the Sports, Media, and Entertainment landscapes.

“We are excited to further expand the partnership with IPZ that began a couple years ago. Together, we’ll be able to maximize opportunities for our clients,” said Playbook + Founder John Sheehan.

“We’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with John over the past year or so through one of our St. Louis based clients and are really excited to now expand and formalize our partnership,” said IPZ Managing Director Jeff Curtin. “John and his team’s expertise in the sports marketing and advertising space will help bolster our capabilities for our existing clients and expand reach. Together, we can take our client services to the next level.”

November Newsletter

Philadelphia Union Academy Star Joins IPZ

WARREN, NJ (November 12, 2020) — Quinn Sullivan, a versatile midfielder and top prospect within the Philadelphia Union (MLS) and USA Soccer, has signed with IPZ, the company announced today.

The 16-year-old Philadelphia native has been a mainstay within the Philadelphia Union Academy, representing the club at every age group. Most recently, Quinn played as an amateur for the professional side Philadelphia Union II, which in 2020, competed in the United Soccer League Championship (USLC), the second division of United States professional soccer.

Quinn will officially embark on his professional soccer career, starting January 1, 2021, when he joins the First Team of the Philadelphia Union. The Philadelphia Union have a history of developing young talent and were recipients of the 2020 MLS Supporters’ Shield, an achievement given to the club with the best regular season record in MLS.

“I didn’t choose IPZ. IPZ, and in particular Jeff Curtin, chose me,” said Sullivan. “Jeff has watched me play for a number of years and when the early bloomers were attracting the attention of agents and managers, Jeff saw something in me, and would come watch my games whenever he had the chance. My family and I appreciated that. It is obvious that the boutique nature of IPZ allows them to really focus on representing their clients holistically, and the proof is in the results- in a matter of months Jeff was able to secure me both a trial at Borussia Dortmund, a top German club, and a Homegrown Major League Soccer (MLS) contract with my hometown Philadelphia Union. I look forward to a long partnership with IPZ.”

“Quinn is an exceptional young talent,” said Curtin, Managing Director of IPZ. “At just sixteen years old, Quinn is ready to take the next step in his soccer career as a professional. Quinn has the talent, mindset and approach to be a great pro and we are delighted to have him officially join the IPZ family.”

See the Union’s Official Release here.

Luca Bernardi Wins the 2020 Campionato Italiano Velocità SuperSport600

Luca Bernardi, the San Marino rider of the Gomma Racing team, added two more podiums (seven out of eight races) in the historical circuit of Vallelunga in Rome, to clinch the Campionato Italiano Velocità SuperSport600 Championship.

After a tough year, Bernardi clinched the title with 152 points in only his second year participating at this event.

Along with this title, Bernardi has won the 2017 CIV Championship SuperSport 300 and the 2017 Yamaha R3 Cup.

Andrei Arlovski Adds to His Record

UFC Heavyweight and IPZ client, Andrei Arlovski, defeated Tanner Boser in the co-main event inside the Apex Las Vegas this past weekend.

Arlovski won via unanimous decision after surprising Boser with a spinning backfist in the final seconds of the second round.

“I looked at Boser and saw myself 21 years ago…He’s young, powerful, strong and hungry. I wish him good luck,” said Arlovski in an interview with ESPN after the fight.

This win marks his 19th win in the UFC’s heavyweight division, which is the most of all time. Even with this, Arlovski, now back in the top 15 rankings, has stated that his best is yet to come.

 

COVID-19 vs. 9/11

I sent an email to a client (and friend) this morning, congratulating him on his company’s decision to provide insurance coverage to furloughed workers during the crisis we face today.  I sent that email right after I had an email exchange with a basketball colleague in Italy. He has been in lockdown for several weeks in a much more difficult environment.

Both asked me about our current situation, compared with being at the NYSE on 9/11.

I understand the comparison, and I understand the market reaction.

But the events are so different.  The events of 9/11 were quickly realized to be the work of a very visible enemy – one we had the opportunity well before 9/11 to take down and didn’t, both because of our President’s unwillingness, and our inattention to details that could have uncovered the terrorists’ plot.  Our surveillance and caution around security issues has changed dramatically post 9/11.

This current killer is invisible.  But, like 9/11, it will forever change some of our habits and aspects of social interaction…and – my guess – where some of our biopharma companies invest in the future.  I can envision investors (and governments…and insurers) funding research and discovery that can identify where the “next” COVID-19 might come from, and vaccines that can prevent transmission.

Col. Jack Jacobs is a very dear friend.  Sitting here in quiet Tewksbury is a blessing compared to what he went through in Vietnam.  And none of us are trying to charge up the cliffs on the beaches in Normandy.

Yes, this is difficult…but there are many worse things we’ve been confronted with.

I’d rather be faced with having the virus than standing in a window on the 98th floor of the World Trade Center, knowing my choice was to burn or jump.

And financially, we will survive.  One of the first (and one of the smartest) guys I ever worked for on Wall Street was Paul Tudor Jones.  He was on an extended interview on CNBC this morning.  It was excellent.  He captured it perfectly.  Here’s a link: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/26/tudor-jones-says-this-is-the-greatest-fiscal-monetary-bazooka-ever.html

To everyone out there, be safe!

(and – for the record – to me at least, 9/11 was much worse.)

The Set Pieces Sits Down with Jack Elliott

From London Amateur to MLS Professional: Interview with Philadelphia Union’s Jack Elliott

By Greg Lea

The path between European football and Major League Soccer has become a well-trodden one in recent years, with Steven Gerrard, David Beckham, David Villa, Thierry Henry, Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard and Kaka among those who have crossed the Atlantic in the latter stages of their career.

It isn’t just high-profile stars in their 30s who have made the move stateside, though. Philadelphia Union centre-back Jack Elliott was born in London but has only ever played professional football in the US, having been scouted while representing an amateur team in his hometown. It’s safe to say the switch from Sunday League to MLS, via the West Virginia University team, has been a surreal one for the 22-year-old.

“It was a crazy experience playing against them,” Elliott tells The Set Pieces, referring to opponents such as David Villa, Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore, all of whom the centre-back locked horns with in his debut campaign of 2017.

“Luckily I started off easy playing my first start at home against David Villa! But it was amazing. He’s one of the toughest strikers I’ve played against. His movement and speed are still world class, making him a difficult opponent to play against.”

Trying to keep a World Cup winner quiet is a very different challenge to marking a hungover centre-forward on a mud-caked pitch in south London, but Elliott owes plenty to his experiences in the English capital’s amateur divisions.

“I played for Fulham academy for a year when I was 12, but I got released and then mainly just played Sunday league and school football. As I got older I moved into men’s football, where I was spotted by a coach [Dan Stratford] from West Virginia University – he was playing in the same game. He asked me if I wanted to go and play over there, and I had no second thoughts about it.”

It was an incredibly exciting proposition for a football-mad teenager who had long dreamt of a professional career, but the prospect of suddenly moving more than 3500 miles from home must have been daunting too. Thankfully for Elliott, he arrived in West Virginia to find a terrific setup both on and off the pitch.

“You train as a professional almost every day, working around a regular university life, and it’s surprisingly professional: the facilities are top-class, the pitches are good and you’re well looked after with gear and equipment,” the defender says of his experience in the US college system, which allows promising young athletes to combine sport and education. Does he think such an arrangement could work in Europe?

“I’m not sure it’s better in terms of producing top quality players, but it helps to catch the ones who may have slipped through the cracks of the top academies,” says Elliott, who received an academic scholarship to study Management Information Systems in the US.

“Going through the college system allows you to get a degree, which was one of the reasons I had no questions about it, but the quality of football, facilities and fans are something I might not have experienced had I stayed at home.”

The 6ft 5in stopper played 68 games for the West Virginia Mountaineers between 2013 and 2016, before being selected by Philadelphia Union in the fourth round of the 2017 SuperDraft, an annual event in which MLS clubs snap up players who have either graduated from college or been signed by the league.

“It was one of the best days of my life,” Elliott recalls. “Philadelphia was a place I’d been many times before and really enjoyed, plus it wasn’t too far from West Virginia.”

The young defender, described by Union sporting director Earnie Stewart as a “good passer who reads the game well”, was an unused substitute for early-season meetings with Vancouver Whitecaps, Toronto and Orlando City, before making his MLS bow from the bench in a 2-1 loss to D.C. United. Elliott performed well despite the disappointing result, and he soon became a regular part of manager Jim Curtin’s starting XI.

“It all happened very quickly. The second game of the season I was in the 18 [matchday squad] for the first team, and then I played 45 minutes at D.C.,” he told the club’s YouTube channel.

“It allowed the coaches to see I could handle the pressure of the league. And then the next week I was starting. It all came very quickly and I’m very thankful for it.

“When I got subbed in, I had 15 minutes to think about it. It’s not a lot of time; I was just warming up. It was good that I didn’t have time to think about it. I just went out there and played the way I play.”

It can be particularly tough for young centre-backs to establish themselves in the first team, with many managers unwilling to risk inexperienced players in such a key position. Yet by the end of the 2017 season, Elliott had made 30 appearances in MLS and racked up more minutes than all but two of his Union team-mates.

The quality of his performances caught the eye even more than the quantity. The Londoner played with a maturity which belied his tender years, as the Union finished eighth in the Eastern Conference. Elliott’s displays were so consistently impressive that he was nominated for the MLS Rookie of the Year Award, which was ultimately won by Atlanta United midfielder Julian Gressel.

“I didn’t expect to play as much [as I did], no,” he admits. “But from my first few weeks there I could see it was a place where I could belong.

“It was a good feeling,” he adds when talk turns to his third-place finish in the newcomer vote. “I’d never have expected to be there at the start of the year, so it was nice to get that sort of recognition at the end of it.”

Compatriot Aaron Jones departed the Talen Energy Stadium in November, but Elliott isn’t the only Brit in the Union squad for the 2018 campaign, which has begun with a 2-0 victory over New England Revolution and a goalless draw with Columbus Crew. Former Arsenal and Hull forward Jay Simpson is also in his second year in MLS, having moved to Philadelphia from Leyton Orient a few weeks before Elliott signed on the dotted line.

“Football in the US is still growing so obviously it isn’t as big as it is in the UK,” Elliott says of the differences between the two countries. “As kids they don’t play it every day in school and they don’t see it as much on TV. I feel kids here don’t get to play enough unstructured football, which in some ways can help to develop a player in different ways than structured coaching does.”

It’s an interesting point and one which the powers that be at the US Soccer Federation would be wise to consider as the national team attempts to bounce back from its failure to qualify for this summer’s World Cup. Elliott cannot afford to dwell on such big-picture issues for too long, though, with his focus now firmly on his second season with the Union.

“Individually I’d like to build on what I did last year and improve as a player,” he says of his hopes for the campaign ahead. “And as a team our ambition is to get to the play-offs and make a run there.”

If Elliott can replicate last season’s performances this time around, Philadelphia Union will fancy their chances of achieving that goal.

View on The Set Pieces.

Paul Christensen Signed By Atlanta United 2

IPZ Athlete Inks First Professional Deal

WARREN, NJ, February 19, 2018 – Paul Christensen, a 2018 MLS SuperDraft selection of Atlanta United FC, has signed a professional contract with its USL affiliate Atlanta United 2.

Very excited to officially sign with @atlutd2 looking forward to a great season! #AO1 #UniteAndConquer,” said Christensen in a tweet.

“Paul is a solid young goalkeeper who impressed us with his technique, willingness to learn and enthusiasm for the club,” said ATL UTD 2 Head Coach Scott Donnelly.

“We are excited for Paul to begin his professional career within the Atlanta United franchise,” said Jeff Curtin, managing director of IPZ. “Atlanta has quickly established itself as one of the top clubs in U.S. soccer, and with Atlanta United 2, Paul will be in an environment that is fantastic for young professional players.”

View ATL UTD 2’s release about Christensen’s signing here.

About IPZ: IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.

About Zito Partners: Zito Partners builds, energizes and defends brands. A boutique firm representing a select group of clients from a range of industries, Zito Partners believes in a “ready, aim, fire” approach – understand the client…develop the appropriate strategy against the key target constituencies…and execute against the plan. And through its strategic alliance with Ketchum, Ketchum Zito Financial, Zito Partners is assisting additional clients with their financial communications needs. For more information, visit www.zitopartners.com.

Paul Christensen Selected by Atlanta United FC

WARREN, NJ, January 23, 2018 – Paul Christensen was chosen by Atlanta United FC with the 70th overall pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft on Sunday, January 21.

“I am very excited to be drafted by Atlanta United FC,” said Christensen. “They are a very successful and professional organization. It’s an amazing place to start my career as a professional soccer player. I cannot wait to join the team for preseason.”

About IPZ: IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.

About Zito Partners: Zito Partners builds, energizes and defends brands. A boutique firm representing a select group of clients from a range of industries, Zito Partners believes in a “ready, aim, fire” approach – understand the client…develop the appropriate strategy against the key target constituencies…and execute against the plan. And through its strategic alliance with Ketchum, Ketchum Zito Financial, Zito Partners is assisting additional clients with their financial communications needs. For more information, visit www.zitopartners.com.