Join us for S2:EP25 of the Sports Philanthropy Podcast as Tina Sernett, the Founder of The Sports Shed sits down with our host, Roy Kessel, to discuss how The Sports Shed has established its sports equipment collection initiative that donates equipment to sports programs that do not have sufficient funding to supply the equipment to their participants.
The Sports Shed works with non-profit organizations in under resourced communities throughout Chicago and the suburbs who struggle to offer athletic programs with little to no budget. The Sports Shed serves public, charter, and private schools in addition to organizations like after school programs and park districts. Youth sports are on the decline in urban areas due to the high cost of uniforms, footwear and equipment necessary to outfit a team. The Sports Shed develops long term partnerships with the organizations we serve to increase athletic opportunities for kids.
Tina Sernet founded The Sports Shed, an organization whose mission is to provide sports related resources to kids who have limited opportunities in the Chicago area. Since 2009, they have distributed over $2 million worth of quality gear to over 230 schools and athletic programs. This helps schools start new sports programs, increases participation and elevates the level of play. The Sports Shed has launched football teams, provided access to tennis instruction, started softball programs, and supplied gear to countless soccer, basketball, volleyball and baseball leagues.
Tina’s passion for sports and equipment started early as her dad came from a large family of sports fanatics and he introduced her to playing softball , basketball, tennis and more. After spending time in her uncle’s sporting goods store and learning about a variety of sports, she was intrigued by all the gear coming out on the market that could enhance athletic performance. Her first job was in a local tennis shop and later moved on to an early career as a buyer for several Athlete’s Foot stores.
When Tina became a mother of two student athletes in the affluent suburbs of Chicago, she recognized the over abundance of resources for youth sports that skyrocketed in the early 2000’s. Parents and schools afforded kids with the latest and greatest equipment and facilities in hopes to ensure ultimate success. What also became clear as she researched low-income urban areas of Chicago, is the vast disparity between the amount of opportunities and resources available to literally tens of thousands of kids. Hundreds of Chicago schools had little to no funding or space needed to provide athletics and physical education.
With conviction and compassion Tina put her faith into action and became determined to bridge this equity gap. With personal experience of benefiting from sports in a multitude of ways, it became clear that sports opportunities would give great alternatives to the negative influences like gangs and violence in Chicago’s vast areas of poverty. The love of Christ and the core belief that ALL people matter to God has been Tina’s driving force in creating a viable solution and an impactful organization that leverages resources to gear up thousands of kids for a better future!
HIGHLIGHTS OF TINA’S PODCAST
- 00:30 Background and interest in sports
- 03:30 Her leap to The Sports Shed
- 10:00 Initial years at The Sports Shed
- 12:40 Collection Process for equipment
- 15:00 Identifying Recipient Organizations
- 19:45 Enormous needs in Chicago
- 23:30 Process for pick up and distribution of equipment
- 28:00 Best ways for volunteers to help
- 33:00 Wish lists for organizations
- 38:00 Tina’s wish for The Sports Shed
- 41:30 Items needed to grow the organization
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