By Darren Hore
With a business that spans Sault Ste. Marie and Greater Sudbury, Ont., I am Canada’s first and currently only franchisee for Teach-Grow-Achieve (TGA) Premier Sports, which takes a unique approach to children’s sports instruction. I divide my time between tennis and golf enrichment programming, which my franchise brings to local schools and community centres throughout my territory.
A youth in athletics
I was born and raised in Elliot Lake, Ont., about two hours’ drive east of Sault Ste. Marie. I was a pretty athletic kid, playing hockey, baseball and soccer throughout the year, but not a lot of golf or tennis! They were just not trendy back then, so there was not much support for getting kids involved at younger ages. I did get to go to tennis camp at nine or 10 years old, while my family was relocated to Labrador City, N.L., but there were no golf lessons for children.
In my high school years, I also got involved in volleyball and track and field. While I had dreamed of becoming a professional hockey player one day, my interests took a different turn, as I got very involved in music as a teenager. I began taking music classes and performed in power pop bands as a singer and bass guitar player throughout high school.
I moved to Ottawa to study business at Carleton University, but it was really just a front, while I was continuing to pursue music. I began touring in 1991 between university semesters, but eventually, touring in a band became a full-time gig.
Later on, I combined my efforts by going back to school, studying music industry arts at Fanshawe College in London, Ont. The curriculum covered such related disciplines as music engineering and production.
During those studies, I became more interested in the business management side of the music industry. I applied the same skills to our band, booking our tours, co-ordinating press and media and establishing an online presence back when the Internet was still in its infancy. Eventually, however, we outsourced those tasks.
From 1994 to 2000, I toured extensively in North America and Europe with a group called Punchbuggy. We played about 200 shows a year.
As I became more interested in being in business, I worked in a few different roles with an Internet marketing company in Toronto. Over my five years there, I developed a better understanding of how I would operate my own future business.
With music becoming less relevant to my daily activities, so too did the idea of living my life in the big city. I packed up and relocated with my partner, Tricia, to her hometown of Sault Ste. Marie in 2007. While it was never previously a destination on my agenda, I appreciated how it was closer to my hometown, too. Together, we created a new plan for ourselves.