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“It’s about telling these kids’ stories.” Alex Alvarado’s Xtra Time Talent helps local soccer players get noticed

Alex Alvarado grew up playing soccer.

Born in Mexico and raised in Madison, he was a goalkeeper for the Madison 56ers and Madison West High School. Due in part to a bad experience with a coach, he decided that his senior season would be his last as a competitive player.

“I had some opportunities to play in college, but at the end of the day, I chose my academics,” he told Blueprint365.

He didn’t give up the game, though. Quite the opposite.

He studied music business at Columbia College Chicago for two and a half years. During that time, he attended a two-week summer program in music business at NYU.

Alex Alvarado. Photo supplied.

“It was incredible,” he said. “I was there for two weeks and it was super immersive and just eye-opening.”

Specifically, it was eye-opening in the way he thought about creativity.

“I used to explain myself as just not being creative,” he said. “But then I had that experience … I learned a lot just about marketing and building a brand and working with people, especially the power of genuine relationships.”

While the music industry was pushing all the right buttons, Alvarado also sensed a lack of paid internship or entry level opportunities, so decided to take some time away from college and return to his hometown. He reconnected with soccer – this time with a new outlook and skill set.

He earned a Class D coaching license – the first step toward professional coaching – and currently works as an assistant coach at Madison College and coaches two youth teams for the 56ers. He started training a few young soccer players, and later brought that newly discovered creativity to the sport and launched Xtra Time Talent, a social media and branding platform for local soccer players and teams.

“I started recording some stuff at games… I saw a lot of potential to maybe grow it into a space to highlight athletes outside of just the training aspect of it,” he said.

He started with a camera on a tripod at the corner flag during Madison 56ers matches. 

“It just was a bit annoying to have to, at halftime, go and switch and do all this stuff,” he said. “I wanted to still be a coach. And I felt that that took away from that.”

So he enlisted the help of Aaron Morales to film players in action. Alvarado then edits and posts those videos to the Xtra Time Talent Instagram page, which recently reached the 1,000-follower milestone. He also uses Instagram’s new collaborative posting feature, which allows the video to post simultaneously to the athlete’s Instagram account as well.

The result is not only entertaining for soccer fans, but important for youth players’ futures.

“Having any type of highlight is important for college (recruiting) purposes. It’s something that they need,” Alvarado said. But services like Hudl provide a very basic, broad, whole-field view. “Ours is a bit different and that it’s more intimate. We’re on the pitch. You get an inside look into the players’ emotions, reactions. I think it’s an opportunity for these players to show a little bit more of themselves and what they have to offer in those types of intangibles.”

Which is more important than ever, now that college players can make money on name, image and likeness (NIL) deals. While a coach might want to just see a player’s footwork or passing ability, a brand might want to see a player’s charisma and personality, Alvarado said.

So far Alvarado is “still figuring out” the full revenue picture. That might be players paying for video content and social media management, teams paying for highlight reels, or soccer brands sponsoring content.

Alvarado is also moving into the live event space – this weekend he’ll host the first Xtra Time Thanksgiving Classic, a friendly six-on-six indoor match between two teams of local college players. The 22 participants held a draft on Sunday, similar to the NBA All-Star game, streamed on Instagram Live. The game will take place Saturday at 10:30 am at Keva Sports Center in Middleton. It will not be live streamed, but it’s free to attend. Several players and the referee will be mic’d up, so there will be plenty of fun content coming to the Xtra Time Instagram feed in the days afterward.

This first event doesn’t have any sponsors, though selling sponsorships and partnerships for future events could be an important source of revenue, Alvarado said.

Alvarado said Xtra Time Talent is “100 percent inspired” by Movement Hoops, which performs similar services for basketball players. Besides that, a few Madison College basketball players have expressed interest in having Xtra Time make videos for them. While Alvarado is “open to” the idea of branching into other sports, for now, he’s staying focused on the one he knows best and loves the most.

However the revenue comes together, the mission remains focused on one thing: creating community.

“It’s about telling these kids’ stories, telling these players’ stories, telling the soccer program stories, and building the soccer community,” Alvarado said.