Future Industry Leaders Scholars Profile: Michael Wright

“The most enjoyable part of my job is seeing the positive impact that our donations have on the community, and sharing that impact with the sporting goods manufacturers that have provided us with equipment.”

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This summer, the SFIA will acknowledge five young professionals in the sports and fitness industry who have been selected as the 2017 SFIA Future Industry Leaders Scholarship recipients. All five recipients will be present at the fifth annual SFIA Industry Leaders Summit this September 13-14 in Chicago.

In the weeks leading up to the event, the SFIAinsider blog, in collaboration with SFIA Weekly, will be highlighting exclusive interviews with each of our five winners, in order of participant’s response. We are honored to have the opportunity to put them in the spotlight in the lead up to this prestigious networking event.

This week, we meet Michael Wright, a Community Partnerships Manager at Goodsports, Inc.

SFIAinsider: Why did you apply to the Future Industry Leaders Scholarship Program?

Michael Wright: I applied for this scholarship because I was interested in attended the Industry Leaders Summit and felt that this opportunity would provide me with the chance to network with a number of proven professionals in the sporting goods industry.

SFIAinsider: What made you want to work in the sports and fitness industry?

Michael Wright: Growing up I loved playing sports and being active, but I knew from an early age that I was not going to make it as a professional athlete.  My drive to still somehow be involved in athletics lead me to working as a student equipment manager throughout my time in college.  In that role, I became very familiar with how the back-end of athletics work, which in turn heightened my interest in the industry.

SFIAinsider: What exactly do you do in your current position?

Michael Wright: Good Sports is a non-profit organization that gives all kids the lifelong benefits of sport and physical activity by providing new equipment, apparel and footwear to those most in need.  As the Community Partnerships Manager, my role focuses on overseeing our equipment distribution process, ensuring that we are maximizing our impact on children in the community, while also building relationships in the sporting goods industry to source additional donations of excess equipment that companies may have.

SFIAinsider: What do you find the most enjoyable part of your work?

Michael Wright: The most enjoyable part of my job is seeing the positive impact that our donations have on the community, and sharing that impact with the sporting goods manufacturers that have provided us with equipment.

SFIAinsider: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Industry Leaders Summit?

Michael Wright: I am looking forward to networking with so many established professionals in the sporting goods industry, and hopefully building longstanding relationships with this group.

SFIAinsider: What is your favorite sports memory from your lifetime?

Michael Wright: I grew up in a small town in the Northwest Corner of Connecticut.  My graduating class in high school had only 77 kids, however in very Hoosier-esque style, my basketball team made the state finals during my senior year.  While on that postseason run, I was very much a role player on that team and did not see the court much, but in my first ever state playoff game I had a double-double while leading my team to the second round.

SFIAinsider: Do you have a favorite sports movie?

Michael Wright: Rudy.  No matter how many times I watch that movie, it never gets old.

Future Industry Leaders Scholars Profile: Colin Johnson

“I look forward to meeting with and learning from the most influential people in the sports and fitness industry.”

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This summer, the SFIA will acknowledge five young professionals in the sports and fitness industry who have been selected as the 2017 SFIA Future Industry Leaders Scholarship recipients. All five recipients will be present at the fifth annual SFIA Industry Leaders Summit this September 13-14 in Chicago.

In the weeks leading up to the event, the SFIAinsider blog, in collaboration with SFIA Weekly, will be highlighting exclusive interviews with each of our five winners, in order of participant’s response. We are honored to have the opportunity to put them in the spotlight in the lead up to this prestigious networking event.

This week, we meet Colin Johnson, a Test and Certification Program Lead at VICIS.

SFIAinsider: Why did you apply to the Future Industry Leaders Scholarship Program?

Colin Johnson: It wasn’t on my radar until one of our VP’s suggested that I apply.  That got the wheels turning and after learning a bit more about the Industry Leaders Summit, I came to the realization that I was a good candidate for the Scholarship Program and could really benefit from the opportunity to participate in the summit.

SFIAinsider: What made you want to work in the sports and fitness industry?

Colin Johnson: I’ve been an active person my entire life, playing hockey from a young age and participating in countless other sports and recreational activities over the last 30 years.  From adult rec leagues to constant outdoor adventures, I’m always seeking out new ways to keep myself moving.  So, it’s no surprise that for the last 8 years of my career, I’ve been involved in testing and/or designing products that promote an active lifestyle with a focus on keeping people safe. 

SFIAinsider: What exactly do you do in your current position?

Colin Johnson: Most of the engineers at VICIS wear many hats and I’m no exception, but my primary focus is keeping the test lab running smoothly.   In addition to making sure all our testing is done correctly and efficiently, I must also ensure that the test data we generate is of the highest quality.  When developing a product that keeps athletes safe, high-confidence test data and thoughtful interpretation of that information is essential.

SFIAinsider: What do you find the most enjoyable part of your work?

Colin Johnson: The people.  I’ve always found the people I work with and the resulting personal and professional relationships to be invaluable.  I’ve been fortunate to work alongside motivated, smart, and generally good people.  I try to remind myself that without the human component, nothing in this industry is possible.

SFIAinsider: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Industry Leaders Summit?

Colin Johnson: I look forward to meeting with and learning from the most influential people in the sports and fitness industry.  The opportunity to interact with these folks on a personal basis is rare and not something I take for granted.  In addition, I hope that I can offer some fresh perspective on the next generation workforce and how companies can set themselves up for success in coming years.  

SFIAinsider: What is your favorite sports memory from your lifetime?

Colin Johnson: I was a freshman in high school and had been called up to the varsity hockey team.  I had to skate hard every day to prove I deserved a spot on a team made up of guys that seemed twice my size.  It was our first playoff game of the season, which just happened to be against our cross-town rival and in front of a packed house.  The game was tied up in the third period and I was battling in front of the net; holding my own, if only just.  A slap shot from one of our defensemen came in fast and low.  I gave one final push to get my stick free and tipped the shot into the top corner of the net, just out of reach of the goalie’s glove.  The crowd erupted and my team swarmed me in celebration.  I had just scored the go-ahead goal and I was thrilled.  We walked out of the rink with a win that night but it’s not the win that stays with me.  It was the experience of working hard for something that seemed improbable, if not impossible, that still reminds me what it is to persevere.  It’s a lesson that applies to far more than sports.

SFIAinsider: Do you have a favorite sports movie?

Colin Johnson: Remember the Titans.  It’s a great movie about how a sport can bring people together and break barriers that seem otherwise insurmountable.  And the soundtrack is pretty great too!

The Healing Power of Sports

“Sports has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.” – Nelson Mandela

Every so often the healing power of Sports takes center stage. Rivalries are forgotten and hatchets are buried, if only for a moment. In these moments, we have a chance to reflect, a chance to realize that Sports can unite.

On Wednesday, June 14th, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s Senior Vice President of Government Relations & Public Affairs, Bill Sells began his day by attending Congressional baseball practice to arrange for a Congressman to escort MLB great Steve Garvey on game day. At 7:15 am gunshots rang out at the Republican team practice field. Sells saw the gunman fire his rifle and dropped to the ground behind the batting cage. He then scrambled to the first base dugout during a brief lull in the gunfire.  Shots continued for 7 to 8 minutes as two Capitol police officers engaged the gunman.

Crime Scene

The immediate action and bravery of the Capitol police officers no doubt saved lives. If the gunman had been able to get from the third base side to first base side where everyone was taking cover it could have been catastrophic. 

As word trickled back to our offices we all were relieved at Bill’s safety, but remained concerned for those injured.  Shootings are tragic everywhere but when it’s in your back yard and involves someone you know, it hits close to home.

The Congressional baseball game is an annual tradition with origins in 1909. The contest, referred to by the games official website as “the only annual partisan showdown beloved by all and enjoyed by thousands,” pits Congressional Representatives from the Republicans side against Congressional Representatives from the Democratic side. As with most matters in Congress, you must pick a side!

SIFA Sign Congressional Game

The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) provides members’ products to the teams for the game then donates it to a charity afterward.  As the official equipment sponsor, SFIA has been heavily involved with the Congressional baseball game since Sells joined SFIA in 2005.

This brings us to Thursday, June 15th, the night the Congressional baseball game seemed to mean even more. For starters, last year ticket sales were about 9,000 people. The 2017 game reported 24,959 general admission tickets sold and over $1.5 million* raised for charity.
SFIA Congressional Game Sign

It was a subdued atmosphere on that muggy night in DC, opposing players, with opposing view-points, opposing ideologies and opposite ideas of how the country should be run all met at second base. Then they took a knee, bowed a head and engaged in a silent prayer for the injured, including Majority Whip Steve Scalise who was in critical condition.

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Coverage of Congress often focuses on disagreements between the parties, but the baseball game has always focused on the players love of the game.  That love and the love for fellow baseball player and Congressional colleague Steve Scalise was very evident last Thursday. As the teams knelt in the center of the field, the stadium fell silent out of respect for those who were injured and impacted by this horrific act. Sports once again united people this time as part of the healing process.

Sportsmanship carries real weight. Democrats and Republicans have participated in multiple Congressional sports as opponents, but also as teammates. The Congressional Football, Softball, Basketball, Soccer and Hockey games all feature bipartisan teams.  Members of Congress who practice and play together develop relationships across the aisle which help them work on bipartisan solutions together not just oppose someone else’s idea.

Sports breaks down walls, and as an association, the SFIA is proud of that fact. Congress may be considered oil and water or cats vs. dogs, but through the power of sports they’re able to step outside and for a moment unite.

Every even numbered year two things happen: Olympics and Elections.  Olympics brings nations together and lately elections have been pulling us apart.  Perhaps this tragedy at baseball practice will lead to more civility and start the healing of a nation…and Congressional sports participants will lead the way.

*The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and The Washington Literacy Center will receive a portion of proceeds, as well as the United States Capitol Police officers and those injured last week.