Colby Drost is the Founder and President of Paragon Sports Consulting. We recently had the opportunity to discuss his career, what led him to create hiscompany, and how COVID-19 has affected his business.
Drost founded Paragon Sports Consulting to help players navigate amateur hockey and pursue the goal of playing at the highest levels. He set out to redefine the standard of excellence in the industry, and Paragon Sports Consulting has become an industry leader.
He began playing hockey at the age of five and was a goaltender for 17 years. The New Jersey-native played locally through his junior year of high school. He spent his senior year at Holderness School in New Hampshire and the following year playing junior hockey in Massachusetts. In 2011, while playing juniors, he committed to Division I Niagara University. Drost attended Niagara his freshman year and part of his sophomore year before transferring to Division III University of New England.
After graduating from New England in 2015, he began his coaching career as an Assistant Coach and Recruiting Coordinator for Skidmore College. During the 2015-16 season, he recruited 13 players for the following year, a recruiting class that helped lead the program to a national ranking for only the 2nd time in its history.
For three years, beginning in the summer prior to his junior year at New England, Colby was the Director of Player Personnel for the Skipjacks U16-U18 hockey academies. In that position, he identified numerous elite players, many of whom were under the radar or from non-traditional hockey markets, and recruited them to come play for the York, Pennsylvania-based program. With his help, the Skipjacks grew into a nationally ranked and respected organization.
In 2016, the Dubuque Fighting Saints, one of the best organizations in the country’s top junior league, hired Colby as their Director of Scouting and Assistant Director of Player Personnel. While with the organization, Colby earned what he refers to as his “Masters” in hockey–an intensive, in-depth, high pressure education in the business of hockey. He worked with some of the best minds in the sport and scouted more than 400 midget, high school, prep, and junior games per year in four seasons with the Saints.
While working as a coach, scout, and management professional from 2013-19, Colby realized that many players, particularly the under the radar and non-traditional hockey market players he built a reputation for identifying and recruiting, were not getting the guidance they needed. They were either not getting any advice or getting bad advice from people who were not well informed or had other motives.
So, in early 2019, Colby founded Paragon Sports Consulting with the goal of providing amateur players with sound career advice. Having worked for teams in a variety of capacities and been a player himself, Colby understood what it took for players to succeed and how to navigate amateur hockey; and he wanted to share that knowledge.
Over the years, Colby learned just how critical every aspect of a player’s on- and off-ice development is for those who wish to play at the highest levels. With this in mind, he created a 360° approach to advising that is designed to provide players with accurate information and access to all the development resources necessary to succeed. Paragon Sports Consulting has access to every resource players need–elite skill, skating, and strength and conditioning coaches; psychologists and mental performance professionals; nutritionists; ACT/SAT tutors; and more.
Colby helps younger players find the right high school, prep, or midget hockey programs. He helps junior-age players navigate drafts, tender processes, and try-outs and determine which leagues and teams will be the best fit for their development. At the appropriate time, often while his clients are playing juniors, Colby helps them navigate the NCAA process, ensuring they follow NCAA amateurism and eligibility guidelines. He also provides guidance about scholarships and helps his players choose the college that will be the best fit.
Amateur hockey is structured differently than most sports, making it tricky to navigate. There are a variety of development tracks and numerous opportunities throughout North America. The complexity makes advisors particularly valuable.
Never has the counsel of a good advisor been more important, and the value more apparent, than during the COVID-19 pandemic. The crisis added another layer of complexity and created unique challenges for players in 2020-2021. Many had to adjust their plans about where to play on short notice, prior to and/or during the season, under very challenging circumstances. These issues have presented opportunities for Paragon Sports Consulting to provide much needed help to families and to deliver tremendous value. Colby has helped players create contingency plans, find new teams on very short notice when leagues have been shut down, and make unusually hard, stressful decisions, thereby reducing the anxiety many families have been feeling as a result of all the uncertainty.
Although it has been a difficult year, Colby has been able to deepen the relationships he has with his clients and to continue to grow his business because of the results he has delivered and the relationships he has been able to develop.
When I asked Colby for a closing remark, he said, “The foundation for the success I have had is built on passion, hard work, and relationships. I love what I do; I work really hard; and the relationships make it all worthwhile. I love seeing my players succeed on the ice, but the most rewarding part of what I do is getting to see young men become better people and helping them pursue their dreams while protecting their long-term interests.”
Colby has already accomplished a lot. His keen eye for talent, recruiting acumen, and understanding of development have enabled him to attract elite players from the beginning. But he is just getting started. He holds himself to an incredibly high standard. He strives to be the best, to do everything at a high level; and he is relentless in this pursuit.
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