Parenting is one of the toughest jobs to do. And it leaves many parents wondering, “Am I doing this right?”

Timely guidance and helpful strategies are often the difference between favorable decision-making and floundering through difficult “seasons” of life.

Growing Champions for Life helps sports parents create stronger connections with their athletes. When family relationships are healthy, the seeds of confidence and competence are nurtured—which extends into other life endeavors.

Since there are REALLY several stakeholders involved in youth sports—athletes, parents, coaches, athletic directors, and program administrators—we take a holistic approach. Our webinars, workshops, videos, printed resources, and other products are all aimed at helping YOU—wherever you fall in that lineup—improve the youth sports experience, one athlete and one family at a time.

David Benzel

aboutDavid Benzel has been a thought leader, markedly improving the youth sports experience, for over 10 years. As the founder of GROWING CHAMPIONS FOR LIFE, he has worked tirelessly to provide life-changing strategies for athletes, parents, coaches, and sports administrators. He believes in the power of positively equipping each participant to play their BEST role. His impressive experience as an eight-time national water ski champion, published author, sought-after speaker, ESPN commentator, and parent to 2 elite athletes is brought to bear on every aspect of developing the GCFL organization. David is also thrilled to train-up individuals passionate about impacting youth sports to become certified Sports Family Coaches. Thanks to his engaging workshops, inspiring webinars, insightful articles, and other valuable resources, learning the life-lessons of sports is made easier. Along with being dedicated to GROWING champions for life, David and his wife continue to pursue their sports goals, alongside their adult children. When not working, David might be cycling, rowing, coaching his wife through the slalom course, throwing the ball for his mastiff—Sunny, reading, or taking his Harley on a scenic drive.

Bobby Martin

aboutBobby Martin brings an invaluable beginner-to-Olympic coaching perspective to the Growing Champions for Life team.

His principle-centered family life is a testament to his strong core values, and his commitment to healthy parent-athlete relationships trickles over into everything he does.

He and David have been friends and allies in the GCFL movement since they met at a US Figure Skating conference in 2009.

As Director of Development, Bobby connects sports organizations with compelling GCFL resources. He’s also been instrumental in identifying qualified candidates for the Sports Family Coach certification process.

With a master’s degree in Digital and Media Arts, experience running the Tommy Martin Fund—in honor of his son—and over 15 years as an Olympic-level figure skating coach, Bobby’s insight has been exceptional.

Bobby and his wife enjoy watching their daughters participate in sports and music.

When he’s not working, Bobby might be “adventuring” on vacation, completing projects around the house, golfing, going on a family bike ride, or helping his adult baseball team win a game.

Michelle Wells

Michelle Wells firmly believes that getting powerful strategies into the hands of parents and coaches can make a dramatic difference in the lives of young athletes.

As the Chief Copywriter and Editor at Growing Champions for Life, she’s able to draw from her own experiences parenting 6 children, along with many years of training as an elite-level runner and triathlete.

With a degree in Psychology, Michelle has the perfect foundation for digging into the latest sports performance and parenting research.   

She’s able to quickly grasp the “heart of behaviors” in sports scenarios and puts pen-to-paper creating inspiring, yet practical resources for the GCFL audience.

Michelle loves to live out a very active lifestyle, participating in karate, running, cycling and weight lifting—alongside her kids and husband.

Certified Sports Family Coaches

Peter Dunlap

Peter’s passion and experience in youth sports and parent-child relationships motivates him to make an impact for parents and kids everywhere.

Peter brings unique experience to GCFL after 8 years of running a franchised after-school youth sports program. These programs combined athletics, academics, and life lessons to create fun and engaging youth programs.

The sports included tennis, golf, flag football, lacrosse, volleyball, and floor hockey. This curriculum has been implemented at more than 20 schools while employing up to 12 part-time coaches to facilitate the activities and interact with parents.

Peter has also held multiple High School coaching positions in tennis that have contributed to his experience with parent-child relationships. In addition, he has coached his own kids through multiple USTA tennis tournament levels over the past 10 years, who also competed in high school and at the college level.

Peter has also volunteered his time in SNAP (Special Needs Athletic Partnership) programming to provide communities of special needs children and their families the opportunity to take part in athletic activities that are specifically designed and tailored to their disabilities.

In his free time, Peter enjoys playing tennis and planning ski trips as well as traveling to tropical destinations with his wife and two children.

Donna Bollinger


Donna Bollinger takes her experience as a mom of 4, her lessons as an elite-level swimmer, and the impact of a life-changing ocean rescue to energize her efforts in equipping parents for the sports journey.

She understands what it looks like to face adversity and come back stronger.

As a Certified Sports Family Coach, Donna enthusiastically shares a message that helps create a positive and productive atmosphere, for teams, athletes, and coaches to thrive in.

Donna has attended countless sporting events for her 4 athletic children and recognizes the temptations that sports parents struggle through.

She represents the American Heart Association by being a Basic Life Support Instructor, and she is an advocate for ocean safety—promoting a presentation called, “Break the Grip of the Rip.”

When not hanging out with her adult kids, Donna might be cycling, swimming, or volunteering with a youth outreach project called City Team Ministries.

Jason Bauer

Jason Bauer enthusiastically takes his extensive background—in every aspect of youth sports—to the Growing Champions for Life platform.

His roles as a sports parent, gym owner, and associate head coach for a division one school, give him the ideal perspective to inspire families and athletic programs towards improved experiences.

Jason’s passion for equipping his athletes and families with the best tools and strategies led him to become a Certified Sports Family Coach.

Along with a deep understanding of the gymnastics world, Jason has eagerly navigated through countless seasons of soccer, volleyball, and basketball with his three sports-loving children.

Currently serving as the Director of Operations for a multi-facility gymnastics school in New Jersey, he’s responsible for overseeing team operations, staff training and development, and the general day-to-day operations.

Internationally, Jason has had the privilege to be the head coach for the Maccabi USA Team since 2011—coaching many athletes towards gold and silver medals.

When not attending a sporting event to cheer on his kids, Jason and his wife love to catch a movie, eat at a P.F. Changs, or see a Broadway show. As a “neighbor” and big-time fan of Bruce Springsteen, he is always on the lookout for an encounter with “The Boss.”

Mike Porter

Mike Porter has been an ardent supporter of the Growing Champions for Life movement for many years.

His passion for sports and an intentional approach to lead his two children, favorably through the youth sports experience, gave him the perfect platform for applying the GCFL principles. He astutely uses the same strategies to bring about growth in his workplace.

As a parent and recreational coach, Mike had concerns about the sometimes strained relationships between the adults in the sports arena. He decided to do something about it by becoming a Certified Sports Family Coach.

He has the vision to help create an environment in sports that allows children to grow to their full potential. Mike understands that much of what is learned in sports participation is connected to valuable life lessons.

Equipping all the participants involved, with the positive and proven tools is what drives him. And he believes that working at the organizational level can bring about alliances that lead to powerful change.

Mike’s involvement in coaching soccer for 7 years led him to earn his United States Soccer Federation E License. This prepared him to focus on developing the core competencies in 9-12-year-old athletes and gave him the foundational knowledge to continue progressing through the program.

Mike is a proud husband and dad, who is happy to report that his children are still enjoying the sports they grew up playing—swimming and soccer.

Our Partners

Growing Champions for Life, partners with many national, regional, and local youth sports organizations. Our intention is to make positive, practical, and life-changing strategies easily accessible for any sport. Here are some of the organizations that have used our resources for their parents, coaches, and athletes: