For REDI Hub client and owner of a Skyhawks Sports Academy franchise, Ross Whelan, participating in sports is much more than a pastime. “Sports have taught me a lot about myself,” he said. “I have learned about teamwork, respect, inclusion, leadership and sportsmanship--all of which we teach in our camps. Most importantly, sports taught me to never give up and to include discipline in my life to accomplish my personal goals.” Whelan’s personal experiences with sports align with Skyhawk’s mission to “teach life skills through sports.”
Whelan has always had a passion for teaching, which at one point spurred a move across the globe when he taught children in China. During his time there, he and his wife, Liz, welcomed their daughter to the world. They decided to move their young family to Columbia, Missouri, home to the Missouri Tigers, who he cheered for as a young boy. As he was starting out his business with a baby at home, Whelan needed a space where he could take calls and conduct business without waking up his daughter. That’s what initially brought him to the REDI Hub: “I became a Hub client because I couldn’t take phone calls while my daughter was asleep. As quiet as I tried to be, it just didn’t work,” he said. The benefits extended beyond the shared co-working space, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “The relationships I have started [through the Hub] and are currently building have really helped me. It seems like all [Hub clients] are willing to give an ear and have a conversation to help you succeed.”
Skyhawks has franchises across the country, and over the past 40 years, more than 2 million children from 25 states have participated in their programs. The growth in Whelan’s business mirrors the increased participation in sports programs nationwide. “In the last year, Skyhawks has gone from having two to three locations only in Columbia to a partnership with Jeff City Parks and Daniel Boone Baseball Complex,” Whelan said. “My short-term goal is to make all Skyhawks summer camps the best in the area. I want families to know that at Skyhawks, we are going to learn how to play the sports and we are going to have lots of fun doing so. My long-term goal is to have Skyhawks be the leading company into skills camp in the Mid-Missouri area.”
One of the reasons the programs have become so popular is that they provide a space for young people to gain important skills like leadership, which will benefit them long after the last day of camp. Whelan said he saw this first-hand during their last soccer camp in Jefferson City. “We had a camper show a lot of leadership throughout the whole week, helping the young players learn new skills,” he said. “At the end of the camp, he donated shin guards to Skyhawks Sports Academy, and his hope is that his donation can help more kids experience Skyhawks and play soccer.”
Interested in signing up your child for a sports camp? There are plenty of upcoming opportunities:
Learn more about the camps here.