Ah! After quite the hiatus I am SUPER excited to share an interview I did recently with Alex Sheck, creator of Experience the Game, an incredible non-profit that takes kids on one heck of a VIP experience. I just love was creator Alex Sheck is doing with at-risk youth and sports. Check this out to learn more about this wonderful cause and about how you can get involved.
The Sports Brat: I love what you’re doing with Experience the Game, can you tell us how you got started?
Alex Sheck: When I was in 7th grade we went out west to 7 different stadiums ballparks in one week. My dad gave me the opportunity to plan and book the entire thing. While I was booking the week, I saw how expensive everything as and I got to appreciate it. Between tickets, parking, food and souvenirs, it really adds up. My dad explained that a lot of kids don’t get those opportunities and that was how the idea was born,
It was hard to get started in high school so after my freshman year of college we really decided to go for it and we basically launched it the summer after my freshman year (2013). We have worked with teams all across the country and have taken over 300 kids to games. We strive to give more than a field trip, we take a group between 3-5 kids and make it a real experience. We take them on the court or field, do player meet and greets, give them a really nice meal in the stadium and a gift bag or souveneeir. We really want them to have the VIP experience since this could be the only time they ever get to go to a live professional game.
TSB: How would you describe the main mission of Experience the Game?
AS: To give underprivileged kids an opportunity they wouldn’t normally have. Many of these kids have never been to a sporting event and may never go again. We take them out of their situation for the night and help give them something really special.
We have a partnership with Boys and Girls Club of America. So we work with them locally to select kids who are 12-15 years of age, with a passion for the sport, are good-standing students with have good character and exemplify leadership.
TSB: You grew up a sports fan yourself, what teams do you root for?
AS: I was born in Chicago during the Jordan era, so I idolize him and I’m a huge Bulls fan. I’ve also followed the Lakers after Phil Jackson left. But my number one team has always been the Cubs.
TSB: Do you have an all-time favorite sports moment?
AS: Though I have only seen the replays of this (as I was still very young) my favorite moment is from September 6, 1995. This was when Cal Ripken, Jr. passed Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played streak. I feel that this shows the great character of Cal and that he continued to work hard and strive to be a better person each and every day.
TSB: What about a favorite Experience the Game moment?
AS: I have two favorite moments, both with the blackhawks. First, when blackhawks won the Stanley cup, we took kids to the first game the following season for the banner raising ceremony. It was a very hard ticket to get so that was really cool to take those kids to that special game.
Second, we took 3 kids from the southside of Chicago to a game and we learned that one lost his father to gang violence just 6 months before. When we got to the game and the players came out, he was smiling ear to ear and it just gave me goosebumps to be able to put a smile on his face.
TSB: You’ve been to tons of games so what’s your typical go-to for food at a game? Do you have a favorite stadium or arena treat?
AS: I have to break this down by sport:
Hockey or basketball: always pizza.
Favorite venue….it;s hard not to say Wrigley despite being to a ton of venues.
TSB: I’m sure you’ve heard the walk up song at a baseball game, what would be yours as you head to bat? Or what’s your theme song/pump up song in general?
AS: Back in Black by ACDC (again, slightly bias…it is the song that the Iowa Hawkeyes football team comes out of the tunnel to)
TSB: How can people get involved with Experience the Game?
AS: They can visit the website and read all about it but one of the things we need is money. 95% of the funds come from myself and father. We also look for donations of tickets and packages. Any connections to athletes, teams, media, also helps us make sure the experience is extra special for the kids.
TSB: What athletes do you most admire?
Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Mohammad Ali. These three represent hard work and how it can pay off.
Thank you so much Alex and for more info make sure you check out Experience the Game!!