How to Find a Good Upward Sports™ Entertainer


If you are an Upward Sports™ league director, then you have probably run into the tough decision of finding a good speaker or entertainer for your closing ceremony. There are many very effective, talented, and Gospel-focused speakers out there. But there are also some entertainers floating around that are just not the right fit for Upward Sports™ ceremonies (I won’t name any names). I have spoken at many Upward Sports™ ceremonies over the past decade and when I sit down with the league directors, they sometimes tell me about both the good and bad entertainers they have had in the past.

Here are the two primary things those Upward Sports™ directors have said about the bad entertainers:

1. The presentation was too adult-themed. I’ve heard multiple stories of speakers coming to an Upward Sports™ ceremony based on their high-profile affiliations (like a pro sports team, for example). But then the speaker’s content was full of stories and anecdotes that were more appropriate for an adult audience, such as stories of graphic violence and sexual content. I’m all for giving testimonies to God’s saving grace. But I also believe there are age-appropriate ways of communicating those stories to children. And some speakers have not yet learned about that filter. Equally bad is when speakers use adult-content jokes. Sure, they might go over the kids’ heads, but Upward Sports™ ceremonies are not the place for lewd innuendoes.

2. The speaker did not connect with or engage the children. Some entertainers can have a flashy skill or talent but have poor skills in the field of connecting with kids. It’s like a very skilled doctor with no “bedside manner” or ability to connect with patients on a deeper level than the business of medicine. I would take a speaker with great “kid-connection-skills” and low “flashy talent” skills any day over someone who can lasso the moon but doesn’t know how to make kids laugh or pay attention to a presentation.

So here are my suggestions for things to keep in mind as you search for an entertainer for your ceremony:

1. Check the Upward Sports™ approved speakers list. It should be available when you access your league director pages on the Upward website. And just like any important decision, find some personal references for the ones you’re interested in and make some phone calls.

2. Ask other Upward Sports™ league directors for names of good speakers they have had in the past and ask why they were good.

3. Once you have a short list, look for these qualities as you interview the speaker and/or the referral individuals (in this order of importance):

  • (1) Biblically sound and Gospel-centered
  • (2) Skilled at connecting with and engaging crowds, especially children
  • (3) Skilled in some sort of talent that will serve as a “draw” for the event
  • (4) Fits your budget

I would recommend finding the best person who meets the top three criteria that your budget can allow.

I hope this has been helpful to you. Let me know if I can help in any way at your next Upward Sports™ event or I can point you to any of my colleagues at For HIS Kidz.

Published by


Dr. Jesse Joyner travels nationwide as a speaker and entertainer. His primary role is that of a performing juggler spreading joy and the love of learning to family and kids events. H earned his PhD in Educational Studies at Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL). He enjoys playing the piano, bird watching, and old houses. He lives in Richmond, VA with his wife, Sarah, and their three kids - the perfect number for juggling children.