Experience The Game

Xi chapter brother helps underprivileged attend pro sporting events.

Experience the Game is an organization that started from an excursion that I went on with my father. When I was in seventh grade, we went out west to attend seven baseball games in one week—all in different stadiums. Something that we both recall very clearly to this day is the ambiance at Dodger Stadium on Father’s day. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to plan this entire trip. As the planning went on, I had asked my dad, “With the price of tickets, parking, refreshments like hot dogs and drinks, and souvenirs, how can people afford to take their families to professional sporting events?”

That memorable vacation I shared with my father was in 2007 and it led to the efforts to create what is today, Experience the Game.

I am fortunate enough to have a hardworking and successful father that has had the opportunity to take me to professional sporting events all across the country. We both understand and appreciate what we have and felt that together, we needed to give back. We wanted to pay it forward.

In the summer of 2013, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be an intern on the corporate finance team at McAfee (an Intel Company located in Santa Clara, California). This amazing experience enriched my understanding of the business culture and myself as a professional.

During my time at McAfee, I successfully set up a one-on-one meeting with the President of the company, Mr. Michael DeCesare. While meeting with Mr. DeCesare, I told him about the idea of a nonprofit organization I had. He was incredibly receptive and told me that once the organization became incorporate and operated as a 501(c)3, he would assist us in our early stages. This turned a spark into a fire and made me incredibly motivated.

As soon as I arrived back home from my internship in August of 2013, I began working on the foundation of Experience the Game. With just a few weeks until my sophomore year began, I put in countless hours of work, aware that my time would be more limited once returning to the University of Iowa.

To elaborate on Experience the Game, this nonprofit organization serves to take underprivileged children to professional sporting events. We do much more than give them tickets in the ‘nose-bleed’ section—we give them a true ‘experience.’ These experiences consist  of going on the field/court during warm-ups, meeting players and coaches, sitting in VIP suites, exclusive access and much more. Through the relationships and partnerships with professional athletes, sports franchises and Fortune 500 companies, the children not only see the game, but they are treated to an ‘experience’ with perks such as meeting players on the court or field, speaking with coaches, getting VIP access to the stadium, and private behind the scene tours. Thus far, we have had twenty events since our inception (August, 2013) in cities all across the country (Chicago, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, Raleigh, Miami, Baltimore, Moline, Cincinnati and Cleveland). We have created partnerships with franchises in all four major sports (MLB, NBA, NHL, NFL) and have a very strong partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. To date, over 150 children have been recipients of Experience the Game.

Being the President of an organization has a tremendous amount of responsibility. This past year (sophomore year), I traveled home quite frequently on the weekends for our events while not missing a class and have remained dedicated to my studies. Managing time at such a high level has proven to be a significant challenge through my journey. As a 20-year-old college student, there is a lot to manage—for myself, there was an even greater deal to manage.

Very few people ever get the opportunity to go on the court or field to meet players before a game. The opportunity we give our recipients is something that they will remember for the rest of their lives. It also gives them inspiration and motivation, as well as a break from many of their rough situations.

I am fortunate enough to have a hardworking and successful father that has had the opportunity to take me to professional sporting events all across the country. We both understand and appreciate what we have and felt that together, we needed to give back.

We officially established Experience the Game as a 501(c)3 back in August of 2014. Our first event was with the Chicago Sky, the WNBA team. The tickets for this event were donated by David Nelms, CEO and chairman of Discover Financial Services.

We go far beyond just tickets to a game. These children are inadequately prepared for their path of success. To accomplish their goals, young people need advice from their role models to promote and reinforce various tactics to become successful. Our focus with Experience the Game is to put kids on a positive path and give them opportunities that will better their future.

To expand our reach, we are approaching professional sports franchises and individuals for donations in tickets or monetary value.

There is nothing more rewarding than having the ability to take someone from a rough situation and allow him or her to escape for at the very least a few hours. We are creating lifelong memories that allow these children to move forward in a positive direction. My father is a former Iowa Hawkeye and having the ability to give back and work with my best friend and role model has made this venture that much better.