Speaker 1 00:00:05 Welcome to hustle and pro we're talking sports from youth to pro and today we're actually taking that little tagline to heart because we are here at FC Dallas, and we're talking to Brooke Leverett with the FC Dallas foundation. So I'm your host Kelly Walker and welcome guest Brooke Leverett.
Speaker 2 00:00:22 Thank you for having me, Kelly. Yeah, I'm
Speaker 1 00:00:23 Excited. Thanks for talking to us. I'm excited to learn. So I, you know, we talk a lot on this show about FC Dallas. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, we're talking to players, we've talked to broadcasters, Gina and mark, um, coaches, all kinds of all kinds of FC Dallas. But what we haven't touched on before is more off the field, more community stuff. And so I know of a few things you guys are doing mm-hmm <affirmative>, but I don't think in general, my audience does, I just don't think enough people do. So I wanted to hear from you yeah. To kind of learn like what's happening with the foundation and, and all that good stuff. So I guess, um, can you just kick us off by telling us, like, what is, what is the foundation?
Speaker 2 00:01:01 Yeah, of course. So the FC Dallas foundation's mission is to support programs that promote education, health, and wellness to empower youth in communities here in north Texas. And we have four pillars under our foundation, and those are health and wellness, healthy and active lifestyles, um, education, character building, and then our newest pillar, which is social and economic impact. And then we have programs under each of those pillars. Okay. That we activate all throughout
Speaker 1 00:01:26 The year. I wanna touch on those programs also. But, um, I also, I always like to talk to my guests about their kind of slice of the sports world too. Yeah. So, um, what is your role with the foundation though?
Speaker 2 00:01:38 Yeah, so I joke that I have an entire closet full of hats because I oversee more than just the foundation. Okay. So foundation, that's a big chunk of it. Um, and our day to day operations, financials, all of that, I oversee, um, I also oversee our community relations arm, which would be any programs that are community facing that don't fall under our foundation's mission. Oh, okay. I also spearhead any programs from MLS works, which is major league soccer's social responsibility arm. Yes. So any programs they have that we need to activate in our local markets, I oversee that. Okay. And then I'm also heavily involved with our diversity and inclusion committee, so that's
Speaker 1 00:02:15 Okay. So these closely tied with everything, these are all things that have like quadrupled over the last three years for sure. Right? Like I've had, I've had soccer coaches on talking about the impact of racism in sports and parents of athletes on talking about, are we, are we secluding certain kids from the sports we play and all these things and, and talk to players about, about it. And it it's really like opened up this whole new world. So has, that's probably added a lot to all of those different hats. Right. Definitely in the last couple years. Definitely. So, um, okay. Now is your background and your passion and your interest more on like sports than you were looking for a sports world job? Or is it really on like the, the health and wellness and the education? The community part?
Speaker 2 00:03:05 So it's kind of twofold. Okay. Um, I originally went to school to study Marine biology. Okay. Which ended up being nowhere near what I am now doing today, not here
Speaker 1 00:03:14 In the middle of north Texas.
Speaker 2 00:03:15 No. Um, I went down to the Gulf coast for school, so Texas and Corpus Christi go Islanders. Um, but I quickly realized that I wouldn't be able to make a living unless I taught or did research didn't wanna do either of those things. And I kind of reevaluated and I was like, what has been a big part of my life? And what do I wanna do with my life? Mm-hmm <affirmative> sports was something that was always ingrained in, in my childhood. And then making a difference has also been something that is very close to my heart. So I didn't realize all of the opportunities in sports, which is something I now am such a champion for when I speak to students and things like that, because there are so many opportunities that people don't realize. Yeah. And I was able to make a career out of it. So
Speaker 1 00:03:52 Your job is unique in sports. Yes. I mean, there's, I know you hear this all the time. Cuz I hear it all the time and I'm, you know, not as in like working in sports as much as you, but um, people that say, I wanna get into sports and they wanna do sports marketing or sports management, I'm trying to think of all the titles of, of, of like your majors. Right, right. In college and all these things, there is so much, it's almost like I tell people at any business you go to whatever the thing is that you're good at that company or that business needs that probably. Yes. So just weave that in. And that's like here, especially when you're talking, I mean we're sitting at Toyota stadium, there's everything, you know, encompassing this venue, right? Yeah. Yes. You work for a soccer team, but like there's so much more. Right.
Speaker 2 00:04:37 Right. I like to tell students that you can get a degree in anything and it will apply to sports it's in some level, form or fashion, you can be a photography major. We have a team photographer. Sure. Graphic design. We have a graphic design team. Accounting. We have a team of accountants. Yeah. You can literally major in anything. Or you
Speaker 1 00:04:52 Can like merchandising
Speaker 2 00:04:53 Me, merchandising, marketing sales. Like
Speaker 1 00:04:56 It,
Speaker 2 00:04:56 It, everything under the sun. Yeah. It applies to the sports world. And that's something that I think a lot of people don't necessarily connect. And it's such an important thing to think about if sports is something you're passionate about. Right. But you also really like to crunch numbers and deal with money. You can marry those two things and make a career out of it.
Speaker 1 00:05:11 Right. You said sports was part of your life. Yes. Were you an athlete when you were younger?
Speaker 2 00:05:15 So I grew up playing softball. Me too. I oh, awesome. Yay. I also grew up a coach's kid. So my dad, me too. <laugh> my dad coached college softball in college baseball. Oh wow. Before transitioning to the administrative side of higher education. So oh cool. I grew up at a ballpark. It was something that was so important to my childhood. And he was actually, um, a big champion in me kind of finding this path because in his teaching he taught a sport management class actually here at con college. Oh my gosh. He was like, you know, you'd be really good in this field. You need to think about this and explore different opportunities. And that's when I made that degree change. And, and I was like, you know what? This does make a lot of sense in community relations. That's the direction I wanna go. And I got lucky enough at the end of my college career, I needed an internship to, uh, graduate I'm from here in Frisco. I'm Frisco ISD graduate. You are.
Speaker 1 00:06:06 Yes.
Speaker 2 00:06:06 Okay. So, um, found the opportunity here with FC Dallas. I applied and I got the internship
Speaker 1 00:06:12 I started. So you came straight here and you never left it. Correct. How long
Speaker 2 00:06:15 Have you been here? This is my fifth season. Okay.
Speaker 1 00:06:17 Yeah. So wow. What a great story.
Speaker 2 00:06:20 Yeah,
Speaker 1 00:06:20 I, yeah. I love advice. SD stories like that. Yeah. I just completed this class behind the scenes thing with the district and we were at the CTE center a lot and learned about all these internships and different tracks and how much they actually do try to keep kids or students that went through F I S D yeah. Working here in Brisco. Yeah. And all the different partnerships. So does FC Dallas S kind of have that working relationship with the college and with the district to like get interns and students.
Speaker 2 00:06:48 So with Brisco ISD, we definitely have a close relationship. Mm-hmm <affirmative> um, we obviously host F I S D uh, high school football games, high school, soccer games, all of that. Yep. And then one program on the foundation side that we work closely with them on is steam FFC. Right. And so that is a science technology, engineering, arts mathematics focused program that marries the world into soccer, um, within those principles. So we see every single first guy, I see sixth grader throughout the school year.
Speaker 1 00:07:14 I thought, did they take, do they take field trips here?
Speaker 2 00:07:17 Yes. Okay. They take a field trip, it's four stations. They tour the hall of fame. We have a, what we call a movement lab, um, which they go out and play some soccer. We, we do a stadium tour and highlight some different steam, um, components throughout the stadium. And then we'd have a classroom lesson that we actually developed with Frisco ISD, curriculum writers. So all of our classroom lessons within that program are up to state standard and can be taught in that
Speaker 1 00:07:38 Is classroom
Speaker 2 00:07:39 Is cool.
Speaker 1 00:07:40 Yeah. Yes. I had a, a friend with us one night at a game and he said, huh, we just came here for a field trip this week or whatever. And he was so excited to tell us like the things that they did and learn about. I know it was so cool.
Speaker 2 00:07:53 That's awesome. I'm glad to
Speaker 1 00:07:54 Hear that. I know it's a great partnership. Okay. I wanna go back to softball though. So you played softball, like all growing up. How, how far did you play?
Speaker 2 00:08:02 I had a C or a career ending injury in high school. Um, I broke my wrist, which ended up doing a whole other bunch of stuff
Speaker 1 00:08:08 And playing softball. You broke it?
Speaker 2 00:08:10 Uh, no, I actually just fell and
Speaker 1 00:08:12 Broke it. Yeah. That's how it
Speaker 2 00:08:13 Goes. Right. You cut that out. <laugh> um,
Speaker 1 00:08:16 No, I mean, sometimes it it's the injury and a lot, you know, a lot of the times it's not the sport that your play or that you play that cuts you out of that sport. Um, I also hurt myself playing softball too much. It was too much pitching.
Speaker 2 00:08:30 I that
Speaker 1 00:08:30 The
Speaker 2 00:08:31 Couldn't keep up the broken wrist revealed, deteriorated ligaments in my shoulder, which is what was that's what ended my career. Oh yeah. Were you pitching? No, I was an outfielder. Okay. So, but I played so often I played select softball, so okay. Every weekend during the summer and yeah, it just
Speaker 1 00:08:47 All the time. Shreded everything like all year. Well, was that your only sport or
Speaker 2 00:08:50 Were you Multisport? I played a little bit of volleyball. Mm-hmm <affirmative> that was same motion. So yeah. Did the same damage in my shoulder.
Speaker 1 00:08:57 Oh, I didn't think about that.
Speaker 2 00:08:58 Yeah. Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:08:59 So did you, what high school did you go
Speaker 2 00:09:00 To? I went to heritage. Okay. Yes. So
Speaker 1 00:09:03 How
Speaker 2 00:09:03 Fun? I didn't know. Our softball team right now was really good. Okay. Super exciting. Okay. They're ranked in the country.
Speaker 1 00:09:08 Oh, wow. Yeah. Heritage softball. Yep. Okay. I'll look, 'em up and find out <laugh>. Wow. I didn't know all that. That's exciting. Okay. Yeah. So, um, you mentioned steam FC. We're gonna, I wanna touch on some of the other aspects of what FC Dallas foundation is doing, and that actually might not even be a foundation thing. You said that you wear all these hats, so that might fall under something else, so that you're doing, but is that a foundation thing or?
Speaker 2 00:09:30 It is so it falls under our education pillar. Okay. Yeah. Duh
Speaker 1 00:09:33 <laugh> yeah, the education pillar. Okay. But when we come back, I wanna talk about some other things, so perfect. We're gonna take a quick break. We'll hear from our sponsor. We'll be right back with more from Brooke Leverett and the FC Dallas foundation.
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Speaker 1 00:10:23 Welcome back. We're here with Brooke Leverett. So we talked about some of the four, you told us about the four pillars mm-hmm <affirmative>. Um, but then I wanna get into some of the more like programs and specifics. Yeah. So, um, field development, community action, grants, gear up program, unified team. We talked about steam FC already. There's so much like there's so many things that, um, like I said at the beginning, I, I want more people to just learn about and know about, because I think most of these things happen, obviously you're dealing with them every day, but they're not always broadcast in media and you're not doing them to tell people you're doing them cuz they're community initiatives. So that's what I wanna talk through. 'em um, like let's talk about gear up. So this is FC OS foundation collecting new and used soccer gear to redistribute around DFW. So yes. What kinds of needs do you get requests and like what, what do you wanna tell us about that?
Speaker 2 00:11:17 Yeah. So one of the coolest things about this program is that we do focus here locally, but we also will donate some gear globally as well. Oh good. Like you mentioned, we collect new and gently use soccer gear and re redistribute that gear to, um, groups, individuals in need. Um, we work a lot with our, our youth teams with this program. So, um, some of our, um, youth athletes they've done gear drives instead of asking for birthday gifts or have done a team drive out at training or whatever that may be. That's cool. Yes. It's, it's super awesome. It's super awesome to see our youth kids give back. Yeah. Um, but we'll take that gear, donate it. Um, we also have youth players that will go on mission trips and wanna take gear. We'll help supply gear through this program. That's cool. We've also had first team players that have taken gear to where they're from. Um, some of our players from Ghana went back to Ghana and they took a bunch of boxes of, of sea Dallas gear. That's awesome. Back to, to groups in need back home. So
Speaker 1 00:12:10 Like spreading it all
Speaker 2 00:12:11 Around. Exactly. Yeah. So being able to make that impact here locally, but as well as globally is something that's super important to
Speaker 1 00:12:17 Us. I love that. And I also love, like, I was just thinking it's kind of the adults it's kind of you guys collecting and doing, but everything you just mentioned was a player related kind of request. Yeah.
Speaker 2 00:12:27 Players, whether it's youth academy, second team, first team, whatever it may be. We try to accommodate all of those groups and obviously we're here to help as much as we can. Um, so just assisting them where, where needed is, is what we love
Speaker 1 00:12:39 To do. I love that. That's cool. Yeah. Okay. Building fields. So since 2011, I think, um, SC Dallas foundation has been building fields to facilitate active lifestyles for underserved youth. Um, I mean here in Frisco, we're not gonna like see all those fields necessarily around us. So I know there's a long list on the website. Yes. But what kind of, you said you've been here five years or six years, correct? Yeah. So what, which projects have you been able to be a part of during that time or that, that stand out to you?
Speaker 2 00:13:10 Yeah. So we've built nine fields to date. We're working on our 10th. Um, hopefully making that, um, that ribbon cutting here in the next couple of months. Oh, cool. Um, I'll get to that one in a minute because it's a really exciting field, but we've done everything from real grass to artificial turf, to sport court, whatever it may be to help accommodate the location, the organization we're working with. Um, some of our coolest pitches that we've done in the more recent, um, the past years have been in partnership with goal, which is a program through, um, didn't I SD and little L I S D um, that it's guys and G guys and girls operating as leaders. Oh cool. And it's a lot of first generation students. Um, and they use soccer as a tool to help promote staying in school and making sure that grades are met in all of that. Nice. So we've worked with three middle schools to build, um, what we've refurbished tennis courts on those middle school campuses. Um, and we've laid sport court, so it can be a versatile playing, um, playing space. So not only does goal use it, but then they can use it for adapted sports as well. Right. So students in wheelchairs can also use utilize those fields or mini pitches as we call them mini
Speaker 1 00:14:19 Pitches. Yeah.
Speaker 2 00:14:20 Yeah. That's um,
Speaker 1 00:14:21 But the one there, something at my possibilities, I feel
Speaker 2 00:14:23 Like that's the, oh, is that what I'm talking about? That
Speaker 1 00:14:25 Is so I'm like, I feel like I don't remember when this was, but I was there at
Speaker 2 00:14:29 Groundbreaking September. Yes.
Speaker 1 00:14:31 Okay. That's all. I can't even remember. Um, but that's, that was okay, go ahead. Sorry.
Speaker 2 00:14:37 You're good. Still thunder. You are good. We are super excited about that. So we're building, um, a pretty, pretty large real grass field, um, out at my possibilities, which is a nonprofit here in Plano, um, that is essentially continuing education for adults with disabilities.
Speaker 1 00:14:52 It's
Speaker 2 00:14:53 Amazing. It's amazing what they do. So yeah. People,
Speaker 1 00:14:55 If you have a chance to volunteer, yes. Go check out my possibilities. I feel like it's off of George Bush and like, I don't know what part of, I know Kuwait. Okay. Ish. Um, but it's really amazing to see these, their facilities are amazing, but to see these, um, young adults learning how to, you know, how to be active and have real responsibilities. So anyway, segue just wanted to shout out to what they're doing over there.
Speaker 2 00:15:20 Yeah. So they have their phase, one of their campus complete, which is the first building. Um, we broke ground on the soccer field, which the long term plan is to have an entire sports facility out there. So we're the first ones we mark in our territory. Um, but we're really excited about this field that we're building out there. Um, it'll be, like I said, real grass, we're laying irrigation, light poles, all whole nine yard. Wow. It will be a big deal. So we're very excited about that and that will actually be our 10th field. So, okay. We broke ground on that back in 2021, which was our 10th field to break ground on in 10 years. So oh, really excited about that. Okay. Um, and yeah, we'll, we'll be cutting the ribbon for that field here in a couple months. That's
Speaker 1 00:16:02 Awesome. Yes. That's not just, you know, getting some grass lined or something that sounds really in depth.
Speaker 2 00:16:08 This project has been in the works for about four years now. Oh, wow. So we're really excited to get it over the finish line and obviously COVID delayed things and then supply chain and this and that. So I
Speaker 1 00:16:18 Think that's why I couldn't remember the timeline I'm thinking was this, like, this is something I went to pre COVID and it got delayed or after it's really weird how it's messing with my like yes. Timeline of, of different things and events.
Speaker 2 00:16:31 You're not alone,
Speaker 1 00:16:32 But yeah, I remember that day and having some of the, um, hipsters, hipsters, I couldn't remember what they call yes.
Speaker 2 00:16:39 Hipsters.
Speaker 1 00:16:39 That's what they call the
Speaker 2 00:16:40 Hugely important people.
Speaker 1 00:16:42 Yeah. Hugely important people. I love it. Yeah. They're so cute out there. Okay. So, um, now what we see on the east side of the stadium is not one of those, is it, or is that a steam field or
Speaker 2 00:16:54 Whatever? Yeah. So that was one of the fields through our pitch, uh, development program.
Speaker 1 00:16:57 Yeah. I didn't know if it was classified as that.
Speaker 2 00:17:00 Okay. Yeah, it is. And it is, that's the field that we utilize through CFC. Okay. And one thing with CFC as well, that it is important to note is, um, we really try to accommodate and ensure every student can come to that field trip regardless of, um, financial situation or whatever that may be. So any student on free or reduced lunch, they get to come free of charge. And so, um, utilizing our facilities, including that field and, and whatnot, to really make sure that all students have access to that program is something that, that is really important
Speaker 1 00:17:29 To us. That's great. Yeah. I love that. Okay. Let's talk about community action grants. So I don't know a bunch of the details about how groups get involved with the mm-hmm <affirmative> with actually getting the grants. But I do know, kind of just looking at some of the lists of people who are impacted. I mean, some of these recipients are, um, like the Lira group, which teaches life skills, um, to the poor and underserved communities, hugs cafe, which I love because they provide meaningful employment to adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities. And, um, there's a lot, but Frisco fast packs is another big one. Yes. Because they're helping feed students here in Frisco. Yes. And there's the need for that is way greater than most people probably realize mm-hmm <affirmative> a percent, I'm sure there's a lot more. So tell me like how you see it in the day to day. Yeah. That though those grants are impacting everybody.
Speaker 2 00:18:23 Yeah. Our grant program is super cool because not only do we get to work with nonprofits that we already have relationships with, but we also introduced to a lot of new nonprofits that we maybe are blinded to on a day to day basis that we then get to develop relationships with, regardless if they are awarded a grant or not. Um, so our grant program, we do focus on nonprofits here locally. And we do try to grant funds to nonprofits whose missions are similar to ours, focusing on those healthy and active lifestyles, nutrition, education,
Speaker 1 00:18:54 All over that. So it aligns.
Speaker 2 00:18:55 Exactly.
Speaker 1 00:18:55 Yeah. Makes sense.
Speaker 2 00:18:56 Yeah. And so, um, our grant program, we, we typically do four grants per year at $5,000 each. Um, and then we stay in contact with those recipients throughout the year. And then, um, once we launch the next cycle, those recipients, um, are free to apply again and continue. Oh, they can apply. Yeah. So we, we try to keep it on a two year cycle so we can grant, um, the same nonprofit two years in a row and then we'll take a year off and then they're free to apply again from there. Okay. So, um, we, we try to spread the wealth as much as we can. Um, but also we wanna make sure that those nonprofits that are doing wonderful work and, um, stay in close relation with us and all of that can continue to have that opportunity.
Speaker 1 00:19:37 So like with hugs cafe, for example, are you guys, so they, if they are granted the, the grant money mm-hmm <affirmative> and they win, do you, do you like, do you just give them the money and they get to use it for whatever? Or do y'all do y'all is it a thing you're doing with them?
Speaker 2 00:19:51 Yeah. So typically it's an application process, so it's open to nonprofits. Like I said, here locally in that application, they have to outline what they would use the funds for. Okay. And then, um, if selected, we will write a check grant them, those funds, and then about six to eight months later, we'll ask for a check in, and there's a list of things that we ask for those recipients to provide, to make sure that, um, the impact that they said they were gonna make. Right. They are working towards. Yeah. Um, and then those types of, um, I guess check-ins are what will make them more eligible and more likely to receive another grant for
Speaker 1 00:20:25 This, for the next round. Yeah. And I would imagine those check-ins help you guys as a foundation too, when you're looking at the application process at each round, when you see like what somebody expects or anticipates this much, you know, you could probably see for the next person, like this 5,000 is gonna be too much or too little for this goal, like it's too lofty or whatever, and you might be able to give them advice or help align them with like a more realistic expectation of what they're trying to do with their money. I bet you guys get better at that partnership
Speaker 2 00:20:57 Too. Yes, for sure. And, and with our grant program, that's something that the FCS foundation board, they select the grantees, um, and I'm the one collecting the applications and that whole nine yards. And I can make my suggestions based off of past knowledge that we've gained or based off of the application that we received. Yeah. Um, all of that. And then also through this program, like I said, we get to build relationships with these nonprofits. And so for example, hugs cafe, they were a grantee last year. We just did a volunteer event with them and took some of our front office staff to go volunteer with hugs cafe. Oh, cool. We've done the same with Bonton farms in the past. I'm not sure if you're familiar. Mm-hmm <affirmative> yep. Okay, perfect. They're located in a food desert. Um, they, they provide meaningful employment and then also fresh produce for that food desert that they're located in. Yeah. They're past grantee and we, we took a bunch of staff out to volunteer with them once. So again, um, it's really important to us to build those relationships and maintain those, um, those relationships as well, rather than just cutting a check in. No, you're good. Rather than just cutting a check in and that it walking away. Yeah. Yeah. We really wanna build those relationships and continue those.
Speaker 1 00:21:57 Does soccer ever come into play here? Like do those groups come into games?
Speaker 2 00:22:01 Um, we do invite every year. Um, we invite our five grantees to one match they'll they get to be recognized. Um, hopefully now that things are starting to calm down around COVID protocols, we can, um, transition back to having that check presentation on the field and all of that. Um, and then we try to get our players involved too and take them to those volunteer events and, and really try to expose them to nonprofits here locally
Speaker 1 00:22:23 Also. Yeah. That's probably been a challenge in your role is you want the players to feel all of this with you and experience and get into their community. Yeah. Even if it's, they're not homegrowns or whatever, they're here for a while, so they're part of it, but, um, you know, player access has been so restricted lately, so it's probably been like a challenge for you to not be able to like send players to the, you know, hospitals and different things. I remember we used to go to children's and the players would talk to the kids that's probably stopped right now. So, um, have you guys had to adapt and do more virtual things or
Speaker 2 00:23:00 A hundred percent? We actually just had a virtual hospital visit on Friday. Oh, okay. So, um, but luckily we had the green light. We can start to get back to those in person things. The hospitals are allowing that now. Great. Um, with obvious protocols in place also, and we wanna make sure our players stay safe as well, but, um, we're slowly transitioning back to that, which is super exciting because I know everybody is so technology out, zoomed out. Yeah. It's it's now it's gotten hard to secure players for those because they don't wanna be on nobody
Speaker 1 00:23:29 Anymore. Right. I know, I know everybody's over it, but man, those hospital visits, I would go as media sometimes and follow the little red wagon around. Yeah. And taking pictures and writing and stuff and seeing those kids light up when those players walk in the room, I mean, it's really neat. Um, so it warms my heart to know that that's back on the table. So
Speaker 2 00:23:51 That's good. And it's also good for our players because with such a young team that's, if they're 16, 17, 18 years old, if that those, some of those kids are their age, they're not that
Speaker 1 00:24:02 Far off mm-hmm.
Speaker 2 00:24:02 Right. So it's so good. I can really relate yeah. To be able to relate, but also, um, kind of see what, what else is happening out there in the world,
Speaker 1 00:24:10 Right? Yeah. That, yeah. Not everybody has it as, as good as as others. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Then the last thing I wanna touch on is the unified team. Yes. I love this. Um, and I feel like it's a special Olympics kind of partnership, but I don't know if everybody knows how much happens with unified team or what that even is. So give us a little synopsis of what, what the St Dallas unified team is.
Speaker 2 00:24:31 Yeah. So the St Dallas unified team, like you said, is, um, a partnership between FC Dallas and special Olympics. Okay. And we have support from some corporate partners as well, global life, Gallagher Toyota. Um, and the program is designed to bring individuals with, and without disabilities together to play on one soccer team and go play together. Um, and it's really cool because we were one of the first teams to jump on board with this program. And since then, um, almost every single MLS club has a unified team Associa associated. Oh wow. And the league MLS has adopted it as a league-wide program. So now we have a unified all star match at all star. Oh, really? Yes. And, and the goal, I didn't know that. Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:25:12 And so the gets to travel and do the whole thing.
Speaker 2 00:25:15 Yeah. So the goal is really to provide us close to professional experience as possible for our team. So this year we're gonna travel down to Austin on June 25th, and then to Houston on July 9th, we're still working on confirming our home match, but, um, we'll bust down, we'll stay in the hotel that the team, the first team is staying in. That's
Speaker 1 00:25:33 A big deal.
Speaker 2 00:25:34 We get to play in the stadium that the first team plays in whole nine yards. So the goal is really to make it as, as close to the professional experience as possible for, for our
Speaker 1 00:25:42 Team. And there's a mixture of people with and without disabilities. Correct. So you, it's not, I don't know if that's special Olympics, typical formula, but how do you get the players without like, are, do people just volunteer to be out there and play, or do you have to, how, like, do they have to be qualified or how do you
Speaker 2 00:26:01 Get them? Yeah. So, um, we actually host tryouts. Okay. And we host tryouts every two years. We like our teams to be together for two years. That way they can really get a full experience, get to know one another holding yards. Yeah. Um, but we host tryouts and we promote, um, that tryout to all of our youth teams in our academies. So a lot of our unified partners are, um, folks that do play on St. Dallas teams already, which is really nice because that's, that's so cool. Another way that they get to give back to their FC, Dallas family and, and community here locally.
Speaker 1 00:26:30 Do you know what age range you're looking for for the players?
Speaker 2 00:26:33 Yeah. So typically the age range is between 16 and 25 years old. Okay. Um, our unified partners, which are individuals without disabilities. Okay. Tend to be on that younger side and our unified athletes, which are individuals with disabilities are on that older, that older end of that, um, that range
Speaker 1 00:26:48 That's so great. Yeah. One of our soccer friends, um, chip Duick was, has coached and been a part of uni. I don't know if he still does right now
Speaker 2 00:26:56 Or not. No, he's actually our head coach this year. He is. Okay, good. Yes. We confirm that last week. So we're really excited to have him
Speaker 1 00:27:02 On they're awesome. They are fellow season ticket members and sit their seat neighbors of ours here. Um, and they're actual neighbors of ours and our kids go to school together and all these things. That's so fun. Yeah. Our oldest are the same grade and our youngest, well, no, he has a really young, yeah. Uh, his middle is the same. Um, and so we, we love like they're our soccer friends and I just remember him like, you know, lighting up when he talks about unified and getting to be involved. Um, he also maybe through that, but, um, their family was like friends, uh, with the hauling said family mm-hmm <affirmative> and when they were here and they would do mission trips and different things and coach soccer and other parts of the country. And so there's so many ways that, you know, soccer, people can really touch others and impact the community. And so I love that unified team. So, um, so you said try outs are every couple years mm-hmm <affirmative> what time of year does that usually
Speaker 2 00:27:59 Happen? Typically? Um, the first three months of the year. Okay. So this year we hosted tryouts in March. Okay. Um, that was a little on the later side we like to get 'em done in February, so we can, I'm just curious. Yeah. Get that team together and start training and preparing for matches throughout the season. So
Speaker 1 00:28:12 That's so fun that, that that group gets to travel together and because that's actually prob and they get to play on the big field here too. Yep. But playing on the big field here is a big deal. Yeah. But then like getting on a bus and doing the whole, like experience with your team mm-hmm <affirmative> and going to another city yeah. Is so fun.
Speaker 2 00:28:29 And prior to COVID and we'll get back to this, we're taking flights across the country together. So it's, it's a lot of fun. And, and it's one of my favorite programs that I get to work on as well. So I bet I, every Friday night is when we train, I go out to training and I play with them. I
Speaker 1 00:28:44 Was gonna ask if you are, are a partner.
Speaker 2 00:28:47 I am not, um, I'm a little outside of that age range, but, um, I volunteer, I, I joke that I'm our equipment manager and team admin. So I make sure, I know when you walked in today, you saw me laying out all of our, getting gear, ready, our kits and everything. Um, I book all of our travel and all that. So I, I take the role of, uh, equipment manager and team admin. Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:29:05 I was gonna say team mom, that also sounds like team team mom role. Yes. That's awesome. I bet that's one of your, you know, favorite parts of definitely all the hat that you wear
Speaker 2 00:29:15 Definitely is.
Speaker 1 00:29:16 Yes. You wear a lot. Are there any other programs that we didn't touch on that we should?
Speaker 2 00:29:20 Oh goodness.
Speaker 1 00:29:21 I know there's probably a lot. Me. Those were the ones I had written down. So if there is something else, I don't wanna leave it out if
Speaker 2 00:29:26 It's important to you. I think one other thing that's important to touch on is our homegrown partner program. And this isn't necessarily under our foundation, but, um, it definitely aligns with our community relations, social responsibility. Sure. Diversity and inclusion efforts. And, um, our homegrown partner program, um, focuses on providing local minority owned businesses with assets of being a corporate partner of FC Dallas free of charge. So similar to our grant program, it's an application process, but this is, um, geared more towards for profit businesses. Um, and we select five every year. And this last year, 2021 was the first year that we did it. Um, and one success story is one of our homegrown partners from last year actually transitioned to a long term partnership starting this year. So, oh, cool. Casa and spice. You'll find them in our team stores here locally that you can purchase their product and all of that. Um, there are a few concession items that feature their product. Um, but it's
Speaker 1 00:30:19 Okay. Yeah. I'm like, it's a really cool program. Feel like I've seen this, what is it?
Speaker 2 00:30:23 Casa and spice. Yeah. That is they're spice companies. Right. So they've spiced blends.
Speaker 1 00:30:26 I feel like I've seen them
Speaker 2 00:30:27 The bottles in the team stores. Maybe that's probably where you've
Speaker 1 00:30:30 Seen it. Yeah. It must have been.
Speaker 2 00:30:31 Yeah. And we, I think we have a pulled pork sandwich that features one of their spice
Speaker 1 00:30:35 Blends. That's where I've seen them. Okay. On, um, uh, food day. What is the oh yeah. Stadium eats day, right?
Speaker 2 00:30:42 Stadium eats.
Speaker 1 00:30:42 Yes. Stadium. I'm like, oh my gosh. That name. Okay. Yep. Stadium eats day. Yes. So they do spice up some of the food here then. Yeah. How cool.
Speaker 2 00:30:49 Yep. It's a, it's a super fun program to work on. And we also make sure that, um, as with a lot of our, our corporate sponsors, um, they have in stadium signage, we'll work on community outreach initiatives with them, all of that kind of stuff. So they really get the full experience of being a, um, corporate partner of FC Dallas.
Speaker 1 00:31:08 That's awesome. Yeah. Yeah. I'm glad you mentioned that cuz I didn't, it's newer. It is. Yes. Um, I've seen, I mean, I've seen it come across, but I didn't know exactly what that meant. Yeah. So that's very cool. Yeah. And then, I mean, these are short episodes, so, you know, uh, we won't get into it here, but like we could do a whole thing just on the social and the diversity and all the, those kind of a little bit newer programs that have really taken shape here lately. So we'll do a round two, one day. Sounds good. Dig into some of those things, but yeah, but thank you for your time. I know that you you're busy. Like you said, walking through the hallway, I see all your gear and your gearing up for unified team activities. So appreciate your time. And of course, shout out to Gina Miller for letting us use her space. Yes. And they were, we kinda overtook Gina's office. So, uh, thank you. Thanks for letting us be in here, Gina. And thank you for listening to this episode of hustle and pro whether you listen at your favorite podcast platform or you're watching us on YouTube, make sure you subscribe so you can get notifications for the next episode and follow us on Instagram post. Thanks. See.