Because Sports Changed My Life & I Want To Create That Opportunity For All
I grew up on the decks of swimming pools. My mom coached a high school swim team when she was pregnant with me; she says when the starter’s beep would go off, I would jump in utero. I learned to swim at some point between that time and age 3, when I swam in my first competition. I can’t remember not knowing how to swim. My parents also owned a swim shop, and there was never a shortage of suits or swimming gear around me.
My generation is one of the first in which women were told we could be whatever we dreamed of, and to pursue what we are passionate about. For me, that was MUSIC. In middle school I bought Don Passman’s deeply respected music industry guide, All You Need to Know About The Music Business at the mall, and realized working in music really could be a career. Twenty years later, Don’s book continues to be the go-to publication for the music industry and I am in the updated version of that very book as an expert on modern business.
I was nationally ranked in swimming by the age of ten but, like most athletes, I had my ups and downs in sport, particularly as a teenager. I worked through the slumps, and was inspired to practice assiduously when I found out that Northeastern University had a music industry major as well as a Division I Women’s Swimming Team. The dream of going to a private university in a coastal city, that my family could not afford without scholarships, fueled my daily swimming practices. By high school I was a good swimmer, but not the best of the best; however, as a result of my diligence through those years, I earned a 75% scholarship to attend and swim for Northeastern. I worked even harder in the time between my senior year of high school and heading off to college, and set a new school record in my first competition representing Northeastern. My coach immediately rewarded me by offering a full scholarship, changing my life forever.
The benefits of being a student athlete at any age are countless and well documented. I can attest that I derive almost all of my business skills as an adult from these formative experiences of teamwork, work ethic, and time management. Of course the support of my family goes without saying, but beyond that, the support of my coaches, my teammates, and their families enabled me to feel comfortable working in teams with adults and more experienced professionals as I grew up. Through this empowering environment I rarely, if ever, perceived a gender bias as I grew. After all, if I could train with the boys in the pool, and often best them, why would it be any different on land?
Over the past decade, I went from being a kid from Wisconsin who knew no one in the music industry, to having my name grace the cover of Billboard Magazine. Prior to my thirtieth birthday, I have achieved everything beyond my wildest dreams in music, including my favorite musician, Noel Gallagher, dedicating the song “Don’t Look Back in Anger” to me at an Oasis concert in Germany. I have had the privilege of working with countless artists I adore and admire, and am now viewed as an expert and thought leader in the music industry. All of this happened because of the opportunity I was offered, and then seized, in athletics.
Like most athletes, after a goal is achieved, I revise my goals to aim further still. As has been widely chronicled, Dreamfuel was created because of Olympic Gold Medalist Anthony Ervin’s desire to compete on the World Cup circuit for the United States. At the time he had no way to pay for his expenses, nor could he turn to a crowdfunding platform that specialized in sports. It simply did not exist.
As I work to bring my expertise in running campaigns for artists into sports and beyond, I am reminded everyday how athletics changed my life. I dreamt of a career in music, and I have achieved everything I could ever have wanted and more. Now I want to provide that opportunity for others via Dreamfuel.
Not every kid’s family owns a swim shop with access to suits, or has parents who coach and expose them to a sport before they’re even old enough to remember. Even kids with extremely supportive parents at all levels struggle to pay the expensive fees it takes to join clubs, train, travel, and purchase gear.
At Dreamfuel we hear from athletes and parents in all sports. People view NFL and NBA athletes as being in the sports with money. But these athletes were not born into the major leagues. We are constantly approached by athletes and parents from “bigger” sports whose kids were selected for elite camps, but they have no idea how they are going to afford to get them there. I do not need to explain this to anyone who has ever competed in or supported someone in athletics, but this problem is one that is not often spoken of outside sports circles.
Dreamfuel was created to serve athletes and teams. Our first tool is a crowdfunding platform, a revenue stream that is still extremely new to sports. There is a massive data collection problem for competitors and teams in addition to the fundraising problem that plagues all athletes. Dreamfuel is here to eliminate the door-to-door clipboard with a CRM based platform that solves this very issue. Not to mention the elimination of cash based fundraising, in which theft is a serious issue.
Why Dreamfuel? Because sports changed my life, and I work for that opportunity for others. Not being able to afford a suit, ice time, an elite football camp one is selected to, and countless other examples should never hold athletes back from achieving their goals. Their dreams go beyond the playing field. I cannot always recall my best times or how I placed in my swimming competitions, but I do use all of the skills that sports gave me every day in my career. For that primary reason among many, playing sports changed my life. As a result, I could not be more thrilled to have Dreamfuel do that for others.
#DreamBig and get behind your favorite athlete or team. By doing so, you not only support their athletic goals, but you invest in them for a future that can exist because of all of us.
-Emily White, Co-Founder & CEO at Dreamfuel