Meet Amanda McGrew, Founder of the Athlete Dating App “Playoff”

“I started noticing all of these niche dating apps and eventually asked myself: If I had to identify with one group of people, who would it be? For me, the answer was athletes and will always be athletes.”

Dating as an athlete? At any level, it presents its challenges. From finding the ‘student-athlete balance in college to dealing with weeks of travel at a time in the pros, it takes a special someone to fit the role. In many cases, athletes turn to date other athletes because they better understand each other and are used to each other’s presence. They share common values and understand the lifestyle that athletics leads. So where can athletes meet other athletes on the internet? Meet Amanda McGrew, creator of the Playoff Dating app.

Meet the Creator

McGrew, a native of Santa Monica, CA, took her talents to the east coast while playing for the University of Rhode Island women’s basketball team from 2005-2009, and then spending a fifth year at UMass Lowell from 2009-2010. After graduation, McGrew moved back out west to Los Angeles and is currently a full-time PE teacher and basketball coach.

Starting the App

For McGrew, the motivation for starting the app was easy.

“The idea [for the app] all goes back to my own dating life! I was super busy teaching full time during the week and on weekends, I was busy coaching high school basketball. When I stopped coaching high school basketball, it opened up some opportunities to date. I was about 26 at this point and that’s when I realized that a more socially acceptable way to date is through online dating apps.”

One thing that stood out to her was that there are 2 types of dating apps: broad and niche. Broad dating apps are typically the big-name apps, such as Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge. These apps are open to all. Niche dating apps differ in the sense that they target people from a targeted group of interests, goals, or other similarities. Some common examples of these are Farmers Only, Christian Mingle, or The League. All of these apps target different people but are focused on common ground.

Essentially, McGrew decided to create the athlete-specific dating app to make online dating easier on herself.

“I started noticing all of these niche dating apps and eventually asked myself: If I had to identify with one group of people, who would it be? For me, the answer was athletes and will always be athletes.”

About the App

Playoff is the first and only athlete-only dating app on the web right now. Cloud servers use location, sport, and interests to help users find their best match. Like typical dating apps, users upload a few pictures of themselves, answer a few questions, and set their preferences before being on their way to exploring potential matches.

The app is also set up to ensure that every user currently or previously competed past the high school level. A part of the account setup process is for users to submit a link to their online roster, where their level of athletic competition is then verified. 

“The exclusivity of it is something that makes the app more attractive. A lot of times, I hear that athletes aren’t using other dating apps because they’re either too broad or aren’t filtered to what they’re looking for. After introducing Playoff, I’ve heard that people who were once skeptical of online dating apps are taking their shot and signing up to Playoff because it’s more tailored to them.

To reduce any type of learning curve, Playoff functions similarly to other dating apps. Instead of “liking” or “swiping right”, users have the option to “play” or “bench” other users after looking through their profiles. Users come into contact with one another only after both decide to “play” one another.

Goals

At approximately 30,000 current users, McGrew’s constant goal is to grow the app’s number of users. There are several users at different levels of their athletic career, so there is room within every level to grow. Alongside this, McGrew’s major goal is for Playoff to become the adopted dating app in Olympic Village in Tokyo. She has already been in contact with Olympians who are working with her to help spread the word about the platform.

“Being able to get a few athletes inside the Village to get in there and share the app with each other would be exciting. If athletes from other countries were even able to bring it back to where they’re from, that would be huge as well.”

Another big goal that McGrew has in store for the app in the next few years is to implement extended services, such as using the app to meet friends or to networking for business.

“From the business standpoint, I think that athletes naturally tend to flock together. Sports shape a person, so being able to have a platform that can be used for networking for people who come from that common athletic background could be incredibly useful.”

Advice from the Creator

Whether a user is hopping on the app to meet their perfect match or dip their toe in the waters of online dating, McGrew’s #1 piece of advice is to connect with as many people as possible.

“Truth be told, I’m not a great ‘online dater’. But I do find incredible value in the human connection. There are many unbelievable opportunities out there if we’re able to meet more people.”

McGrew created Playoff as a space for athletes to be able to put themselves out there. Be sure to check out the app, available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

About Game Plan

Game Plan’s comprehensive software platform integrates mobile-first eLearning as well as virtual mentorship and career services, uniquely designed for athletic organizations. Game Plan has over 275 athletic organizations with over 200,000 courses completed yearly. Our eLearning courses provide student-athletes ultimate access and flexibility while equipping both athletics departments and the conference office management tools and insight to ensure outstanding experiences and outcomes. To learn more about Game Plan, please visit wearegameplan.com.

By : Julia HatcherGame Plan Intern

Leader in Student-Athlete Engagement

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