Kyle O’Daniel’s journey of becoming a franchise owner with Skyhawks Sports Academy in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri is a compelling account of military service, entrepreneurial spirit, and a desire to make a difference. It’s a narrative that highlights how, with some persistence and creativity, seemingly unrelated experiences and talents can be combined into something new and more profound.


Military Life 

Kyle was born and raised in St. Louis, and shortly after graduating from Saint Louis University in 2013, he joined the Air Force as a civil engineering officer in the Missouri Air National Guard. His eight years of service thus far have taken him around the world, from solving infrastructure projects in Europe to participating in construction management missions in Panama and Guatemala. This time in the Air Force has provided Kyle with the skills and perspective to continually pursue various entrepreneurship opportunities, but none of them seemed to “scratch the itch” of service that he so valued in his Air Force career.

“Whether it was real estate investment or any number of start-up ideas I had pursued, they all seemed kind of empty,” said Kyle. “I always felt like I had found something unique in the Air Force, rewarding work that I enjoyed. I wanted to find that in my civilian life as well.”


Pursuing Purpose 

One of those entrepreneurial endeavors was to create a multi-sport camp for children to try-out various sports before committing to or ruling out any specific sport. The plan was to pursue this as a hobby, but then during his market research he came across Skyhawks Sports Academy. 

Skyhawks, which prides itself on the mission of teaching life skills through sports to children ages 2 to 14, presented a perfect blend of what he had been looking for, a service-oriented pursuit that he enjoyed.

“My wife and I both grew up playing various sports through high school, so the ‘Life Skills through Sports’ tagline immediately jumped out at us,” he admitted. “That combined with the foundation and support provided by the franchise model, made this opportunity “click” with us as an obvious way to make an impact in our community.”

This being a local business has meant a lot to Kyle.

“Knowing that I have the opportunity to help children in my hometown find a path of confidence, respect, and physical wellness is very exciting, but also a lot of pressure to not waste that opportunity!”


Success Measured in Many Ways

Kyle’s venture has been met with overwhelming support. In the fall and winter, he ran classes for basketball, flag football, soccer and baseball then added volleyball, cheerleading, as well as track and field. Spring and summer camps will be even busier as they anticipate as many as 500 eager participants based on feedback. However, the true measure of success for Kyle is seen in the personal growth and joy of the children that have come through his programs.

He fondly recalls a moment that encapsulates the rewarding nature of his work: a young boy, recognizing him outside of camp, ran up with a hug, simply beaming, “Hi Coach Kyle!” Interactions like that and the impact on kids is what counts to Kyle.

“Going into this, I thought about the benefits of our sports camps for the kids. It never occurred to me the takeaway I would have from this,” Kyle humbly adds. “I didn’t realize how rewarding coaching and mentoring these kids would be for me. As the father of two little girls– 3 years old and I year old, I’ve leveraged my experience as a father to coach some 3-year-old classes. Both are making me better at the other one.”

His efforts have not only been about teaching sports; they’ve been transformative for the kids’ confidence and social skills.  He recounted another testament to the impact of his Skyhawks camps that came via an email from a grateful parent, whose daughter, previously indifferent to sports, blossomed with newfound confidence and social skills thanks to Skyhawks. 

“Knowing we’re having a positive impact is incredibly satisfying,” Kyle remarks, his voice filled with pride and fulfillment.



Affecting Change

Through Skyhawks, Kyle has found a conduit for his pursuit of gratifying entrepreneurship while giving back to his St. Louis community–inspired by his military experience. He’s teaching kids not just to play sports, but to embrace teamwork, leadership, and personal growth. His journey is a reminder that the most rewarding paths are often those that allow us to serve others. In the fields and courts where Skyhawks’ camps take place, Kyle O’Daniel is providing the platform that may help create a lifelong love of sports for kids in his hometown.