Article courtesy of The Concordian, Concordia College's Student ran Newspaper
By Ben Gislason,
Charity is something that Concordia College believes strongly in, but three Cobber athletes have taken charity to a whole new level in the creation of the InSports Foundation.
InSports Foundation devotes itself to providing underprivileged youth with an opportunity to experience sports that normally would be unavailable to them. Junior Max Smith has seen what began as his dream take off into a full time occupation for not only Max, but fellow Cobbers Andrew Deters and Sam Christian.
“We’ve been very fortunate growing up with sports and having our parents support, we’ve realized there are a lot of kids out there who don’t have those opportunities,” Smith said. “The biggest thing is creating those opportunities for people who may not have gotten that chance.”
“Helping kids get in the game” is the official slogan for InSports and they do this through several different avenues.
The process of apparel fundraising with local high school and college athletic teams as well as fundraising for InSports itself makes up the foundation’s revenue. These events help the respective teams to raise money for their program as well as donating five percent of every sale back to InSports. There is also individual InSports apparel available online for sale that also contributes five percent to the foundation.
InSports then takes this revenue and puts it into setting up events for disadvantaged kids or athletes who have been afflicted with life threatening illnesses.
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter how much money you make,” Smith said. “When you’re gone it doesn’t really matter…being there and doing the camps and helping the kids is the most rewarding part of it.
Smith said the idea of InSports came long before he got to Concordia; initially, the foundation hosted the occasional camp held for small groups of kids. Things really got rolling once Smith got to Moorhead and made connections with the likes of Deters, Christian and several other Cobbers who have helped the foundation along.
Sam, who is a teammate of Smith’s on the Cobber golf squad, is what one might call the utility infielder of the InSports team.
“I am kind of a graphic design consultant, but I also plan events and am on the board of directors,” Christian said.
Christian’s official title is graphic designer; however his help in events has been beneficial for the foundation and for his own benefit.
“It is awesome seeing the smiles on both kids and parents’ faces at the events,” Christian said. “Were not just helping kids get involved in sports, but helping them become better individuals in life.
The trio didn’t quite know how serious InSports would become during its conception. Officially, it was founded in 2013 when they held a t-shirt fundraiser for two hockey players who had been diagnosed with cancer.
“From that point we realized that selling t-shirts, there was some margin in there, and we could raise some pretty good money which we did for Zach and Nick,” Deters said.
What began as an idea and some t-shirts has flourished into children’s hockey camps, a charity golf tournament, and even a board of directors for the foundation. However, this charity does have some help on the financial side.
Innovative Office Solutions, a company based out of Burnsville, Minn., is owned and operated by Max’s parents, CEO Jennifer Smith and CFO Brooks Smith. They have both played a big role in helping start this foundation according to Max. However as the foundation has grown, Jennifer hasn’t coddled the college kids one bit.
“There’s a lot of things that we’ll run by her and she’ll be like ‘no I think it should be this way,’ then we go and do it our way and we end up learning she was right,” Smith said. “The good thing about it is that she’s letting us make our own mistakes and she’s letting us learn, not just telling us what to do.”
Learning from their mistakes is just what the InSports brass has done, and with great success. According to the InSports website, in 2014 alone the foundation has raised almost $10,000 for teams through fundraisers with that five percent of each sale going back to InSports.
“We’ve had some crazy ideas, we’re thinking about getting this big bus, a bunch of hockey equipment, and going around the country putting on free hockey camps and handing out equipment,” Smith said.
InSports is currently in the process of becoming a nationally recognized official non-profit organization. This would allow them access to events like the Minnesota Wild’s Charity of the Month, as well as other opportunities to grow their foundation.
InSports has done a lot for the kids they are working to support but it has also done a lot for Max, Andrew and Sam as well.
“At the hockey camp, seeing this kids eyes light up when you help them out…that’s why I’m in it,” Deters said.
Smith also shares the thrill of bringing joy to the kids and helping steer them in the right direction.
“If we can help just one kid have a better life because of this, it’s been successful,” Smith said.
(For anyone interested in helping out with InSports foundation Max, Andrew, or Sam would be happy to speak with you. You can reach any of them on their emails: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.) Fine print not included in body of story.