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Meet Christy Keswick and Melissa Harper of Good Sports in Quincy

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christy Keswick and Melissa Harper.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
We met on our first day of work right out of college when we were assigned to share an office. Sharing long hours as analysts in a management consulting firm, we became fast friends and running partners, took vacations together and remained close friends even after our careers took us to different companies.

We always thought we would work together again someday and had numerous conversations centered around building something. Then in 2002, five years after we met, a spark of an idea turned into the catalyst we needed. A mutual friend of ours was looking to donate some extra sporting equipment. The idea that it could go to kids in need triggered a bigger question: how could we replicate this for all kids in need?

A group of friends came together, including the two of us, to brainstorm around the idea. Sports were paramount to our upbringing and it was hard to believe all kids didn’t have the same opportunities. Over the next year, we met around living rooms and coffee shops and in 2003 Good Sports was born. While we took the lead, eventually leaving our full-time jobs to build the organization, the others remained engaged as founding board members.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
While we have had our fair share of success along the way, building a company does not come without struggles. When the recession hit in 08-09, there was a steep decline in donations to non-profits. Giving slowed for us and we were met with cash flow issues for the first time. It was a time where we had to make different decisions in order to get by. We shifted fundraising strategies to those that were palatable during challenging financial times and even made the decision to cut our own salaries so we wouldn’t have to lay anyone off. The forward momentum of Good Sports was more important than the number on our paychecks.

It’s been a long road and despite some challenges, we continue to build, grow and get better. When we started Good Sports, we were only 28 and while we had some business experience, neither of us had sports-specific experience or even direct operations experience. However, we knew we could continue to learn and supplement our knowledge with strong advisors. In the back of our minds, we both knew we wouldn’t give up until we succeeded.

Good Sports – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Good Sports’ mission is to give all kids the lifelong benefits of sport and physical activity by providing new equipment, apparel, and footwear to those most in need. Since its founding in 2003, Good Sports has impacted over four million children in need across 50 states. However, our work is far from complete. Countless children still need support from Good Sports to realize the benefits physical activity can bring to their lives.

Increased costs in program fees, the proliferation of pay-to-play sports, and budget cuts to recess and PE programs are contributing to significant declines in physical activity for children. If kids don’t have the opportunity to play and be active, they miss out on the proven lifelong benefits to their health, academic performance, cognitive and social skills.

BUT we believe these issues are solvable. It will take creative, effective solutions to keep kids playing. It means leveraging the sports industry, and the corporate and foundation communities taking action. It means working at the grassroots level across the country to make sure every kid has the opportunity to play and working with individual programs to keep them running. It’s about saving sports for the next generation. This is what Good Sports is doing and it’s working.

Looking ahead, there are still approximately 5 million kids on the sidelines and much more work to be done in order to reverse the statistics. We need more people to get involved and help us reach the children who need it.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
We wanted to create a way for families to give back together and support the mission of Good Sports to get all kids in the game, so we recently launched “Equip-A-Kid,” a virtual donation portal designed to enable easy online giving of new sports gear to underserved kids across the country. Equip-A-Kid allows users to select and donate specific equipment for kids that need it most with a visual, hands-on shopping experience.

The site currently features 27 different items across nine sports activities, including football, soccer, basketball, baseball, volleyball, hockey, track, and field, general fitness and lacrosse. Sample items and prices include:

To “shop” for equipment by sport and handpick items to “purchase”, go to www.goodsports.org/equipakid. All “purchases” are facilitated by Good Sports and the items are directly donated to a child in need.

Pricing:

  • Baseball gloves & mitts: $35
  • Batting helmets: $20
  • Basketball sneakers: $35
  • Footballs: $15
  • Volleyball uniforms: $3
  • Pop-up soccer goal: $35
  • Shin guards: $5

Contact Info:


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