Game On: Athletes Tackle the Sport of Business

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If you’ve written off athletes as “dumb jocks” who aren’t cut out for the pressure of owning a business, you might be surprised to know that there are plenty of athletic entrepreneurs, and that their athletic prowess lends itself quite favorably to success in the business world. Meet five athletes who have taken the skills and focus they’ve developed through years of athletic competition to up their entrepreneurial game.

Jaime Van Wye is, literally, a born athlete. She’s the daughter of Los Angeles Laker and Basketball Hall of Famer Gail Goodrich, and an accomplished athlete who is a former assistant rowing coach at UCLA. Her athletic involvement doesn’t end with humans. She’s also a dog trainer and the founder and CEO of Zoom Room, a facility dedicated to dog and puppy training ranging from agility skill development to standard obedience.

While training dogs, Van Wye noticed that many of her canine “students” lacked focus and a proper outlet for their energy. Out of frustration, they’d become disruptive, and destructive. As an athlete, Van Wye could identify with the dogs’ plight.

“Just like people, dogs benefit from exercise, and getting them out and playing and focusing on skill development does a lot for them,” Van Wye said. Unfortunately, the only dog agility facility near Van Wye (who is based in Los Angeles) had a six-month wait list. Realizing a need for more options, she founded Zoom Room, the only bricks-and-mortar dog training franchise in America, and the first dog agility franchise in the world.

As a former coach, Van Wye has found many connections between her athletic past and entrepreneurial present.

“I think successful athletes are used to working really hard, and expect that success only comes with hard work.  They persevere through difficulties, and sometimes can think laterally to solve problems that might stump others.  Plus, owning your own business, like participating in high-level sports, is pretty consuming.  Certainly, I’ve had nights where the exhaustion level of being an entrepreneur reminded me of my time as a college athlete,” she said.