(Reprinted from the Virginian Pilot)
Virginia Beach, VA
Two years ago Chris Hendrix had three children playing in the Virginia Rush Soccer Club, and he was volunteer coaching several of the teams.
He wanted to do even more to help the nonprofit soccer club, so he began kicking around a few ideas. What he came up with was a bit unusual. The Lynnwood resident decided he would not only provide Rush with the 700 soccer balls it bought each year, he would design and produce them as well.
“Honestly, it is pretty hard because you’re laying out a sphere,” said Hendrix, President of the Virginia Beach based firm Covington Hendrix Anderson Architects. “I used to be a graphic designer, so I have some background in that. ”The material cost of the balls is about $6,000, he said. Fortunately, several sponsors have stepped forward each year to split the costs. In exchange, the soccer balls feature the local businesses’ colorful logos on the panels. “Sometimes the logos need reworking,” Hendrix said, so the images can fit in the ball’s pentagon-shaped panels. But the result is so striking, Hendrix hasn’t yet run into trouble finding sponsors for the soccer balls.
Last year’s sponsors were Premier Soccer, a Hilltop store; Virginia Beach-based Ervin Architectural Products; Guadalajara, the Mexican restaurant chain in Hampton Roads; and Covington Hendrix Anderson Architects.
“The second year we improved the quality of the ball,” Hendrix said. “We’ve had a lot of people wanting to be on the ball.”
Hendrix will soon begin designing the balls for the third year and is uncertain how the economy might affect the sponsorships. Meredith Flaherty, one of Rush’s directors of coaching, hopes area businesses will step forward again this year. The soccer balls are used in the club’s recreational programs, Flaherty said, as well as REACH, the soccer league’s community outreach program. A number of the donated balls are used by the mentally and physically disabled children in the organization’s Tops Program, and others also go to the organization’s inner-city programs.
“We run a lot of community outreach programs,” Flaherty said. “Not-for-profit organizations can’t really go without contributions like this. Ultimately, what it helps with is to keep the costs down so local communities aren’t priced out of playing soccer.”
Some of last season’s surplus balls even made it to Africa, where they were handed out to children during a mission trip made by a co-sponsor from last year. Having the balls donated each year saves the Virginia Rush Soccer Club about $7,500, Flaherty said.
“It’s a wonderful savings for us, and its good advertising for the sponsors that participate.”
Rita Frankenberry, 222-5102, firstname.lastname@example.orgThank you to the following sponsors: