John started the Changing the Game Project in 2012 after two decades as a soccer player and coach on the youth, high school, college and professional level. He is the author of the #1 bestselling books Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes, and Giving Youth Sports Back to our Kids and Is it Wise to Specialize? John is also a regular contributor for SoccerWire.com, and his writing has been featured in many publications including The Huffington Post and Soccer America. John is an internationally known speaker for coaches, parents and youth sports organizations, and has spoken for TEDx, the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, IMG Academy, and at numerous other events throughout the US, Canada and Europe.
When he speaks, John brings to the table a wealth of practical, hands on knowledge garnered through years of working with players and their families on sport specific development, fitness and nutrition, college recruiting, and most importantly, training high-performing athletes by creating a player-centered environment.
Originally from New York, John is a 1994 graduate of Fordham University, where he was a team captain as a senior, and a member of the 1990 Patriot League Championship team. After a stint playing professionally for the Wilmington (NC) Hammerheads of the USL, John began his coaching career as the Varsity Boys Soccer Coach at Cardinal Gibbons HS in Raleigh, NC. He then moved on to become the Assistant Men’s and Women’s Soccer Coach at the University of Vermont, before delving into the world of youth club soccer. Since that time, John has worked as a Director of Coaching for Nordic Spirit SC (Vt), Ann Arbor Youth Soccer Association (MI) and most recently as the Executive Director of Oregon Rush Soccer Club in Bend, OR. He is currently the Central Oregon Regional Training Center Director for the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer. He holds his USSF A License, NSCAA Advanced National Diploma, and US Youth Soccer National Youth Coaching License.
John received his BA in History from Fordham University, and his Masters in History from the University of Vermont. He resides in beautiful Bend, OR, with his wife, Dr Lauren O’Sullivan, and two wonderful children and aspiring young athletes: Maggie Shea, age 9, and Tiernan, age 8.
James Leath is a mental conditioning coach, and the new social media director and speaker for the Changing The Game Project. As an athlete, James played multiple sports in high school and received varsity letters in football, basketball, wrestling, baseball, and volleyball. He accepted scholarship to play football in college but an injury made him change course. James eventually made his way back to football at the semi-pro level, but his passion was coaching and mentoring athletes. He has been coaching and teaching for over 15 years. His widely read blog at jamesleath.com is a top resource that educates athletes, coaches, and parents in sport psychology and personal development. He is currently working on a graduate degree in Performance Psychology. James travels all over the US speaking to teams and organizations but always looks forward to returning to his home in San Luis Obispo, CA, to join his bride and two dogs on a hike in the hills. You can find him on Instagram and Twitter @jamesleath