In this series, we interview Wesleyan students and recent alumni who have founded businesses, nonprofits, and social enterprises. This post features Sydney Forrest ’20, co-founder of Sunshine Sprinters. She’s a student athlete at Wesleyan, and competes triple jump and pole vault on their track and field team. She was a Patricelli Center Fellow during the 2017-2018 school year. Read other Student Startup stories here.
Tell us about your startup:
Sunshine Sprinters is a track and field club dedicated to getting the youth healthy, active, and connected to their community. We run a variety of programs ranging from one-day clinics to season-long team practices. Teaching different track and field events like running, long jump, and pole vault, introduces athletes to all of the opportunities that track and field has to offer and gets them excited about the sport. In addition to training track and field, we also cover other areas of health and fitness. We bring in guest speakers and coaches from around the community to talk about topics like goal setting, being a college athlete, nutrition, and more. Through the mixture of track-specific work, general strength and agility training, and healthy lifestyle programming, we are helping engage the youth and helping people live healthier lives.
My sister and I founded Sunshine Sprinters because we are very passionate about track and field and want to share the benefits of the sport with our local community. I switched from competitive gymnastics to track and field in my senior year of high school. Since the switch happened so late and I was in gymnastics for so long, I was able to quickly pick out and appreciate specific aspects of track and field that make it an ideal sport to introduce to a community at large. I have learned so much from participating in competitive sports and enjoy being able to help others have the same experience.
If you started it as a student, how did you juggle it with everything else?
Being in the Patricelli Fellowship helped a lot since I was able to meet people and get help pretty easily. Through the fellowship I met many mentors that helped me stay organized and get tasks done that would have been difficult and time consuming to do alone. I also personally enjoy being busy and I am used to having to find extra time to work on things in between everything else I’m doing.
Sunshine Sprinters is an LLC. I decided on an LLC because it was simple to set up and keep up with. There are a lot less rules and procedures for upkeep as a sole owner of an LLC than some of the other legal structures. I spoke to a lot of different people that I either knew through family, friends, or Wesleyan that I thought would know something about incorporating before making the decision to become an LLC. I spent a lot of time listening to their advice and doing some research, as not all of them recommended the same plan. I think that the most helpful contact was a lawyer and Wes alum that I met through the fellowship. He took the time to set up a call with me, explain my options, and even handle the paperwork for me.
My biggest challenge was learning to work with other individuals such as the City of Winter Park and the guest speakers. There were so many issues that came up last minute with people cancelling and rules changing, and I had to learn to make quick decisions and adjust to the changes. Last year when the only people involved in the business were my sister and I, I knew exactly when everything was getting done and what was going on at all times. Working with others means that you get more opportunities and can do more, but it also means that you have to follow their rules and trust them to get the work done. Sometimes no matter how much I prepared, things went wrong that I had no control over.
Do you have an ask?
Please let me know if you might want to join the Sunshine Sprinters team. We are looking for student-athletes who might want to run a Sunshine Sprinters program in their city, volunteer for one of our programs, or come in as a guest speaker or coach. Also, take a look at our website, https://www.sunshine-sprinters.com/ and give us a like and follow our Facebook page!