A Letter from Trey Athletes’ Co-Founder & CEO, Rebecca Feickert
I’m not supposed to be here. I was born and raised in Goodrich, North Dakota, a tiny farming town of less than 100 people. Including me, there were two of us in my high school graduating class. And from early on, I was obsessed with basketball. Little did I know, the game would miraculously change my life…twice.
As a kid, rain or shine (or more accurately, in four feet of snow), you could find me at the city park, practicing my jump shot on the cracked, uneven pavement. My school didn’t have much of a weight room, so I made my own in our unfinished basement, using sandbags and paraphernalia from my family’s small water well drilling business. To spruce up the place, I wrote inspirational quotes on brightly colored construction paper and taped them to the cement between the rods of rebar that jutted out of the walls.
Eventually, my hard work and dedication began to pay off because:
1) Thanks to endless hours of aforementioned solo practice, I became a deadly long-range shooter;
2) Due to a lack of local female competition, I spent every off-season playing against strong, competitive, blue collar boys; and
3) A credit to my parents, I reached my full height of 6’2” by age 13.
Still, I’m not supposed to be here. I entered the summer before my senior year of high school with zero Division I college scholarship offers. North Dakota isn’t exactly a hotbed of basketball talent, and my family couldn’t afford for me to play travel ball. So at this point, college coaches didn’t even know I existed, and basketball was taking me nowhere. Until I did something crazy.
Inspired by my high school coach, I made an amateur highlight film (complete with cheesy pump up music), and I mailed it to major college programs across the country. No one was more shocked than I was when the phone started ringing.
Three months later, I had over 40 scholarship offers. A number of major college programs flew to my tiny town to watch me try out against a makeshift team of local farm boys. And eight months after that, I was shooting around in Allen Fieldhouse as the newest member of the Kansas Jayhawks. My real life miracle came true.
I’m a prime example of how sports can change lives. Basketball exposed me to a diverse group of friends, bound together by a love for the game. It opened doors for me to earn a great education and build an exceptional career. And it strengthened and molded transferable skills that make me a better employee and a better citizen: traits such as discipline, communication, teamwork, coachability, resilience, and competitiveness, to name a few. I owed my early success in life to basketball, but athletics wasn’t done with me just yet.
The seed for Trey Athletes was planted in October 2014.
It had been five long years since I graduated from the University of Kansas, and I was finally comfortable being a “former athlete.” I was living in New York and working in finance. Around this time, I reconnected with my network of former teammates and athlete friends. But I was shocked to find that many of them were struggling in life after sport. These are some of the most driven, coachable, and resilient people I’ve ever met, and yet, they were working dead-end jobs, unsuccessfully coping with their lack of team support, and failing to forge new identities.
Have you ever watched from afar as someone you care deeply about struggles and fails? It’s agonizing, especially when you know their life could’ve turned out differently. Helpless as my friends’ amazing talent and career opportunities dwindled before their very eyes, I realized I was supposed to be here. I was exactly where I was supposed to be. And basketball, it seemed, wasn’t done teaching me lessons about chasing dreams or becoming a leader.
Overnight, I became obsessed with understanding why this happened to my friends, as well as with empowering the next generation of high-potential athletes so they might avoid a similar fate. My passion led me to quit my job in finance and move to Bolivia, where I volunteered as a teacher for A Ganar, an organization that uses the framework of sport to positively impact lives. My passion led me to Harvard Business School, where I earned my MBA and learned the principles of leadership and innovation from a brilliant set of professors and peers. My passion led me to build a tribe of others who share my enthusiasm for empowering athletes to become lifelong leaders. And through our tireless research, lean experimentation, and unforeseen learnings, Trey Athletes was born.
By definition, athletes must possess transferable leadership skills to succeed in their sport–today, being athletic is a given, not a differentiating factor. To be successful, top athletes must learn how to seamlessly transition their skills off of the court or the field and into the “real” world. That’s where Trey comes in.
Trey Athletes is a selective leadership development and college preparation program for high-potential athletes. We identify high school athletes who possess leadership “ingredients.” Then, through our program, Trey Athletes learn the “recipe” to strengthen and transfer their leadership skills, helping them to be more successful athletes, students, and people.
My story is proof that sports can change your life. And we at Team Trey are relentless in our quest to help others do the same. There are millions of high-potential athletes who could and should use sports as a springboard to lifelong success, and if you’re one of them (or a fan, or a parent, or a potential donor), we want to hear from you. Because just like me, you, too, are exactly where you’re supposed to be. Send us a message, join our cause, and make a difference in the lives of the next generation by helping us to empower athletes to achieve a lifetime of success.
To athletes everywhere,