August 25, 2013

Sports agent from Maine builds world-class reputation

Some of the biggest names in Olympics sports say Peter Carlisle is 'more than just an agent.'

By Mike Lowe mlowe@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 3)

click image to enlarge

Peter Carlisle stands in front of a gallery of his clients in his office at the MHG Ice Centre in Saco. He said when he started his own agency in 1997, he considered the growing popularity of action sports, such as snowboarding, and saw opportunity. “He was a visionary,” says his brother, Jeff Carlisle.

Photo by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer.

20130620_Carlisle
click image to enlarge

Peter Carlisle talks about his career as a sports agent in his office at the MHG Ice Centre in Saco earlier this summer. He said when he started his own agency in 1997, he considered the growing popularity of action sports, such as snowboarding, and saw opportunity. “He was a visionary,” says his brother, Jeff Carlisle.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

Gold Medal Clients

From the time he started his own one-man shop in 1997 to today, where he oversees the Olympic and Action Sports division for Octagon, one of the largest sports agencies in the world, Peter Carlisle has represented some of the most successful Olympic athletes in U.S. history. Here’s a look at some of them: 

KELLY CLARK,
snowboarder
The Vermont native has won Olypmic gold in the halfpipe in 2002 and bronze in 2010. Has won 10 X Games medals. Named to ESPN’s 50 Most Influential People in Action Sports.

 

 

APOLO ANTON ONO,
speedskater
Has won the most medals (eight) of any U.S. Winter Olympics athlete. He has two golds, two silvers and four bronze medals. Won ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.’’ Retired from competition.

 

 

 

MICHAEL PHELPS,
swimmer
Has won the most medals of any U.S. Olympian in history (22). Also holds all-time Olympic record for gold medals (18). Won eight gold medals in 2008 Beijing Games. Started the Michael Phelps Foundation, to promote swimming and healthy lifestyles. Now retired, but speculation that he will return.

 

ROSS POWERS,
snowboarder
The sport’s first child prodigy won Olympic gold in the halfpipe in 2002, as well as bronze in 1998. The Vermont native started the Ross Powers Foundation, which has since been expanded to the Level Field Fund.
 
 
ALY RAISMAN,
gymnast
Was the captain of the U.S. gymnastics team that won the Olympic gold medal in 2012, while winning an individual gold in floor exercise and bronze in the balance beam.
 
 
 
 
SETH WESCOTT,
snowboardcross
The Carrabassett Valley resident has won the only two Olympic gold medals awarded in snowboardcross (2006, 2010). He is heavily involved in Maine charities and part of the Level Field Fund, which provides grants to gifted athletes in financial need.
 

– By Mike Lowe, Staff Writer

And, said Wescott, that's what is most important.

"It's a way Peter is able to teach Ross, Michael and myself life lessons," Wescott said. "At the end of the day, it isn't about winning gold medals. It's about giving back and helping the next generation. Peter is shepherding us all down a good path in life."

And providing financial security at the same time. Wescott has endorsed companies with a national scope (Visa, Sprint and Procter & Gamble), yet has also lent his name to Maine-based companies such as L.L. Bean and Norway Savings Bank.

Carlisle's stable grew to include other sports. He signed Ian Crocker of Portland, one of the best swimmers in the world at the time.

Carlisle's star was rising, and other people took notice.

He was named one of the Best Lawyers in America (Sports Law) six years in a row. He is one of only two agents to win the Sports Business Journal "Forty-under-40" award three times. He was named to the Sporting News Power 100.

Last fall, he was selected to participate in the Executive-In-Residence program at the Mark McCormack Department of Sport Management at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. The program was designed to honor executives who are innovative and cites his "global marketing of Olympic athletes" as an example.

Carlisle, said Lisa Masteralexis, the sports management department head, "built an industry around (his clients). The entrepreneurial relationship, and his innovation, is what we honored."

For four days Carlisle met with UMass students and listened to their questions.

"I don't think they expected how open he was," Masteralexis said. "He wasn't on his phone, he listened to them, he gave them advice and tried to mentor them as best he could. It was very refreshing for our students."

Carlisle is unlike many other agents in many aspects. While agents actively recruit clients in mainstream sports, Carlisle tends to be a little more selective. Of perhaps 100 new potential clients each year, Octagon signs maybe three in his division.

Also, Carlisle does not receive a commission from his clients. Agents typically receive a 15 percent to 20 percent commission in the Olympic/action sports industry, which in this case is received by the company. While big-name agents such as Tellum and Boras receive multimillion-dollar commissions from their top clients, Carlisle receives an undisclosed salary from Octagon, which was ranked second in a recent Forbes poll among sports agencies with "$2 billion in managed contracts and $80.8 million in commissions."

Carlisle also doesn't seek publicity and, in fact, generously shares his success. His division is recognized as an industry leader, he said, because of the team that's assembled there. In addition to his personal clients, his division also represents Olympic gold medal winners such as swimmer Natalie Coughlin and snowboarder Hannah Teter as well as surfer Alana Blanchard and skateboarder Mitchie Brusco -- two of the most dynamic and successful athletes in their sports.

"Every athlete we represent is represented by all of us," he said.

THE PHELPS CONNECTION

In 2001, Octagon, a leading sports agency based in Reston, Va., bought Carlisle Sports Management.

That gave Carlisle more resources and opened more markets for him. And it introduced him to Michael Phelps.

When Phelps decided to turn pro in 2001, he and his cadre of lawyers met and interviewed prospective agents. At the time, Carlisle was busy with his winter athletes in the Salt Lake City Olympics. When contacted by Phelps' representatives, Carlisle told them he couldn't just drop his winter clients to fly across the country to meet them. They would have to meet later. Carlisle thought he had no chance.

(Continued on page 5)

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