Beyond Sports Foundation (BSF) is in the business of creating superstars.
Its holistic approach to mentoring high school student athletes has allowed graduates to advance to competitive collegiate athletics, with many moving on to successful professional careers. And for the more than 70 graduates of its high school program, BSF is a ticket to making their athletic dreams come true.
The idea for the foundation started in 2003 at EFT Sports Performance in Highland Park, where the founders were working with two young athletes, including future Chicago Bear Rob Hughes. That ultimate success story led to a burgeoning program for sports training. The endeavor grew—two students turned into four, four turned into 10—and today BSF serves 19 high school athletes from all across the state.
The BSF high school program employs a three-pronged approach—academic, social and athletic—to craft well-rounded young men and women. The approach includes regular tutoring sessions and standardized test preparation, while social programming revolves around a monthly colloquium on a particular life skill, from money management to conflict resolution.
The athletic component comprises the largest part of the Beyond Sports experience. Athletic assistance involves position-specific training, nutrition education and injury prevention and recovery. Additionally, BSF preps its students for increased exposure to college scouts, striving to get its athletes before the eyes of college coaches for recruitment purposes.
For BSF Executive Director EL Da’ Sheon Nix, himself a former wide receiver at Northwestern, BSF represents an entirely new approach to college athletic prospects.
“I think any (parent or coach) who has been in our program, who has been touched by athletics, has said, ‘Man, I wish I had had this growing up,’” Nixon says. “Once you become a member of the Beyond Sports team, you become part of a family. It’s a support network. Every student who comes into our program has a different need, a different resource they’re lacking. We try to fill in those gaps.”
The goal is to place each participant in an affordable and appropriate college environment with a full or partial NCAA scholarship. To date, they’ve met their goal: All of the alumni of the BSF high school program graduated high school and enrolled in higher education.
“Even though every individual student has different needs, they all have that one goal of turning their dreams into a reality through the power of sports,” Nixon says. “We are pretty special in that we are able to provide the resources to each individual student with that shared goal and that shared vision.”
Beyond Sports Foundation By The Numbers:
- 100 percent of students that completed the BSF high school program graduated high school and enrolled in a college or university.
- More than 10 NFL players are among their alumni.
- 60 student athletes have received assistance as of 2012.
This article is part of our 2013 Philanthropy Awards. Find more of our winners here: