Today we’d like to introduce you to Cristin Dent.
Hi Cristin, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Dear Athletes: Speaking up for athletes who cannot speak up for themselves.
“Healing looks good on you.” This has been the theme for my life and my brand.
Once I got free, I was able to help others, and I do that through the company, Dear Athletes. We provide digital and audiobooks to help college athletes mentally, financially, and physically.
My name is Cristin, I am a native of Los Angeles, CA. While earning my Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy, I cheered for a D1 University in Los Angeles, CA. It was one of the worst experiences of my life, mentally and emotionally.
After my experience of grief, toxic teams, depression, anxiety, and trauma, I graduated and then became a college professor of psychology.
I chose not to just teach them information but provide them with practical skills and wrote this poetry book on mental health for athletes. Giving them exercises to interrupt their toxic thoughts and learn how to communicate their needs gave them the results to be their own helper when no one is around to talk to.
March of 2020, there were no more classes offered for me to teach, so when the resources, income, and availability to teach dried up, I knew it was time to go. I quit my job, I became unemployed, and the next day, quarantine orders went into effect.
I went through a pretty exhausting depressive episode, but I knew it was also spiritual. I sought after help through a deliverance ministry and that night I had a dream about some college athletes and an app and people listening and watching them.
I woke up and thought the concept was great and prayed for whoever’s idea it was. My therapist at the time interpreted the dream and said that was my new business, that God was showing me my next step and to run with it. Then boom! I created the nonprofit and the profit within two months, we partnered with Door Dash for our first campaign, and we had interested investors, like a Championship NBA player find out about us in our first two months of opening.
I then transitioned to interview athletes, speaking directly to my target audience, and I heard so many stories about abuse, lack of workers compensation, the verbal & sexual abuse, and how college athletes sign their lives away once they sign the NCAA contract.
They can’t talk about all of their injustices and trauma as an athlete, and they wish it could be exposed. That’s where our business anchor scripture comes from, Proverbs 31: 8-9, “Speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves, and ensure justice for those being crushed.”
Thus, we birthed the poetry book for athletes on mental health called, Firehead: When burnout and trauma lead to suffering, these are the poems for student athletes.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
This has been the most difficult business I have had to curate to date, and I do not understand why I have such opposition, and it doesn’t even make sense most of the time.
It has been extremely exhilarating and then deeply exhausting to the point where I want to quit. As this is not my first time having a for-profit business, I can see the difference between this in the nonprofit sector. Nonprofits are a different hurdle to overcome.
In my experience, there are several businesses, people, and corporations that only want to give the appearance of helping by statement, but not by action.
I have been on numerous phone calls with executives, venture capitalists, administrators, and other entrepreneurs that take up my time but lead to no donations or business deals. I have learned that I can’t take calls that don’t lead to something greater.
I have seen how hard it is for nonprofits to receive funding and donations simply through the application process. It seems like it is designed to have you repeat yourself, overwork yourself, and still not have any funds guaranteed for your nonprofit program.
The Dear Athletes Foundation started as a 501c(3) nonprofit organization and distributed gift cards from DoorDash to help student athletes with food insecurity. Our research showed that most college athletes, especially those who live on campus, do not always have access to food, especially if practices run past the dorm hours.
We still want to continue this Student Athlete Initiative and need the funding to reach almost 460,000 NCAA student athletes.
We also have a separate for-profit company, and that is where we will have consistent income.
I encourage businesses to have both a for-profit and nonprofit, to help with receiving grants, support, and tax deductions, to help keep your business moving.
We are releasing a free poetry album for athletes called, Firehead: Heartbreak On Game Day and then the Firehead digital e-book afterwards.
I’m looking forward to the other side of the hard side of a startup and an exceptional launch.
Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Dear Athletes?
Dear Athletes stands out because no one is doing what we are doing, and the timing is necessary in a time of athlete mental health.
We take real-life stories from college and professional athletes and turn them into poems that are digestible and understandable.
We hope that athletes sharing their stories anonymously will create new regulations that allow verbal, mental, and sexual abuse to be reported with consequences to offenders.
We heard a story about a young 17 years old athlete that was sexual abused by a woman in her 60s. That story turned into an empathetic and vivid poem in the book called, Muscles Remember.
This book also has poems about encouragement, mindset, exercise, winning, identity, and handling the grief and lost. Athletes have something to listen to and read before a game now that allows them to get through it and not get over it.
Our app will take things to the next level and we hope to sponsor athletes for the Olympics in the future.
What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
I’ve learned the power of research, momentum, and timing.
You don’t give people what you think they want, you give them what they need.
Talk to your target audience and really listen to their pain points, and become the solution.
I’ve also learned the power of being open to doing something that has never been done. I was encouraged to write this poetry book the same year we started, and I didn’t because I thought athletes would not want a poetry book, no one has done that. I didn’t see how it could be profitable, but I did try and make some changes in a different direction and it was consistent struggle.
I’ve learned to move with ease and peace. Sometimes there’s opposition and sometimes there’s the wrong direction. It is important to understand the difference between the two and move forward in the direction the allows you to produce with ease and peace.
The hardest lesson for me is understanding that some things are not released until the right timing. Move with urgency, but make sure that you are gentle with yourself and set realistic timelines for yourself. Ask for help, do your best, and understand that a delay may not be set back, but something to give you the time to operate, market, and advertise properly. There are something you can’t control.
- Heartbreak On Game Day Poetry Album- FREE
- Firehead Poetry Book – 15.00
- Website: www.thedearathletesfoundation.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/dearathletesinc
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYTrEXbfx7YfJDuOmvc5m3A
- SoundCloud: www.soundcloud.com/dear-athletes-foundation
- Other: www.thedearathleteinc.com