Pitch In - Our Guide To Giving Back

Giving back to others is an essential part of our company. In fact, Embrace Stewardship is a Core Value at Pro Athlete, and therefore, we expect every employee to be involved in giving back to our community, to organizations or causes that are important to them and those in need.

That is why we have a Charity Program that offers each employee a generous monetary allotment each year that they can use to donate to charitable organizations. We do this to empower each employee and teach them about the power of giving, as opposed to the company deciding on a couple of charities to donate to as a whole each year. We hope each employee embraces it and carries it with them, and those close to them, throughout their lives.  

In 2017, Pro Athlete and its employees donated more than $58,000 to 82 different charities. Please take some time to read about the charities that our employees chose to help throughout 2017.

Perk Profile: Winter Weather Program

The recent cold spell in Kansas City got us thinking about one of our best company perks for Winter.

When it’s -10 degrees and your car is covered in ice or snow, the last thing you want to do after a long day of massages, free lunch, haircuts, and working out is to get bundled up and scrape your windshield and get in a cold car.

A few years ago we implemented a process where employees could simply electronically request the ice and snow to be removed from their car and it to be warmed up for them. Once the employee inputs the request and desired time, it funnels to our hospitality team who completes the request.

This perk doesn’t get a lot of use, but it has been helpful to some people in the past. The last thing you want to do is chip a nail scraping your windshield after a manicure in the Pro Spa, right?!

Cheers to 30 Years!

Pro Athlete had another great year in 2017. However, this year was extra special for us, being that it marked our 30th anniversary as a company! After a poor customer service experience when trying to purchase award patches for their son’s varsity letterman jacket, Wes and Judi Hedrick took a leap and changed their plans of opening a Jiffy Lube to try and bring a customer-centric sporting goods store to Kansas City’s northland. From current and former employees here in Kansas City, and others all around the country, we want to thank Wes and Judi and the rest of the Hedrick family for making life-long memories for employees, partners and ball players for the past 30 years!

As a company, we have been lucky to be associated with some amazing people during this ride, including our great employees, customers, vendors, lenders, friends and family. For the past 30 years, Pro Athlete has been much more than a place to work. It’s been a home away from home, a place to have fun, a source for giving back to the community, a therapeutic getaway, and most importantly, a place that enhances the lives of those associated with it.

30 years of business is an amazing accomplishment, and we have made sure to have a “ball” along the way. For those of you interested in being part of the team at Pro Athlete, take a look at our website and see what 30 years of love and dedication to customers, employees, and partners looks like. If it’s inspiring to you, head over to the Fan Club section and sign up to Stay Connected with us. After all, the next game winning moment for our company could start with you!

Cheers to 30 Years!

Company Surprise Leads to a Day of Giving

For years, we would do big giveaways for gifts at our annual Holiday party. There would be 10-15 gifts given out to employees. Past gifts included big-screen TVs, iPads, gift cards, airline tickets, an all-expense-paid trip to Disney, and other items of great value.

Two years ago, something special happened.

Our employees got together and said that instead of doing the holiday party giveaways, they wanted to take the money used for the gifts and donate it to those in need. So, for the past two years, employees have teamed up and performed random acts of kindness. These included giving an iPad to a Dream Factory child, over-tipping a waitress in need, and paying for a single mother’s groceries.

It was one of the coolest things we have done. But, this year, we decided to switch it up. 

The day before Thanksgiving, we shut the company down for a few hours. Employees had no idea of the surprise that awaited. Everyone chartered a bus and took toys, diapers, clothes, and games to the children and families of the YMCA Head Start in Northtown. Check out the video!

It’s a Beaut, Clark: Pro Athlete's Holiday Season Unwrapped

With the Holiday season in full swing (pardon the lame baseball pun), we want to give you a glimpse into how we celebrate this time of year.

Chris H. - Pro Athlete's Wellness Coordinator Ships for The Holidays

Chris H. - Pro Athlete's Wellness Coordinator Ships for The Holidays

Between Black Friday and Christmas are some of the busiest days we have each year. With the increase in holiday shoppers to our sites comes the need for additional staff to fulfill those orders. So, for the past three years, we have built a process that requires every single employee, including the CEO, to complete two shifts in our fulfillment center.

This has a couple of benefits: 1) We don’t have to hire a bunch of seasonal workers for only a few weeks and 2) Our employees get to go back to where this whole thing starts. It’s all about helping to ensure that bat or glove under the Christmas tree in time for that boy or girl to open it on Christmas morning. Knowing that each bat or glove you box up could end up as a gift this time of year is an awesome feeling. We can all remember what it felt like to open that perfect present on Christmas (not including a pink bunny costume), and that motivates our team to help deliver that same memory to kids across the country.

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Additionally, it’s pretty typical for offices to decorate for the holidays, and we are no different. Right after Thanksgiving, our Hospitality Team puts up three baseball-themed Christmas trees around the building. That, coupled with a few other things here and there has pretty much been what we have done. This year, however, we decided to up our game. With the help of our Christmas light consultant Clark W. Griswold, we added what can only be described as “a lot” of lights to the exterior of our building. Only four airplanes have mistaken us for runway lights since we installed them.

Like many, we like to celebrate the Holidays with those close to us. Each year we have a Holiday party at different locations throughout the city. We have been fortunate to partner with some great venues the past couple of years.

  • 2012 - All-Star Pizza
  • 2013 - Club 1000
  • 2014 - Kauffman Stadium Crown & Diamond Club
  • 2015 - Top Golf
  • 2016 - No Other Pub

This year, we have partnered with Stockyards Brewing Co. in the West Bottoms. If you haven’t been there yet, you are missing out. Great beer selection and some great people work there.  

Finally, in true Pro Athlete fashion, we also make time each Holiday season to stay focused on our wellness. We all know how tough it can be. To help everyone with the Holiday health struggle, we do a yearly Team Wellness Challenge. We are right in the middle of it now, and the participation is awesome yet again this year. It’s great to have teammates to help hold you accountable for your wellness even during the Holidays.

So there you have it! That’s a small glimpse behind the curtain at how we do the Holiday season at Pro Athlete. Stay tuned for next week’s blog to see one more thing we did this Holiday season. Of all the things listed above, this one is by far the coolest. It was one of the best things we have done together as a team ever!

Thankful Notes

It's that time of the year and with Thanksgiving right around the corner, all of us at Pro Athlete have so many things to be thankful for. Earlier this week, a few of our employees sat down and wrote Thankful Notes and shared with us what they really are thankful for this Thanksgiving. What are you most thankful for this holiday season?

Pro Athlete’s Bring Your Parents to Work Day Was a Hit

Most of you have heard of Take Your Child to Work Day right? Here we call it Rookie Day, and it’s one of our favorite days of the year. So this year we wanted to add another fun day with some more very exceptional people in our lives. Last week, we were proud to host our first ever Bring Your Parents to Work Day.

Employees brought their parents to work to see everything Pro Athlete has to offer. Our parents helped cook breakfast and lunch for employees, and some were even involved with job interviews from applicants.

Throughout the day it wasn’t out-of-the-ordinary to see a father dicing veggies or a maternal figure playing Foosball. And the fun part? Parents were able to experience our culture and see what their loved one does for a living.

Every parent knocked it out of the park, and we are looking forward to doing this again next year. Check out a few highlights from the day!

Don’t Leave Runners on Base...The Pro Athlete Meaning

In baseball, leaving runners on base is one of the biggest frustrations for a team. You’ve done the work to get baserunners, and then you leave them stranded after that third out?! Here, we do our best to never leave runners on base. We want every potential interaction with Pro Athlete to be a homerun!

Have you ever contacted someone for help with something and they agreed to do it, but then they never followed through? Or, have you emailed someone with a question that you need an answer to, and they don’t email you back? What about the person who schedules a meeting with you at 1:00 pm and shows up at 1:15 pm and never lets you know they were going to be late?

Unfortunately, these things happen to us and around us every single day. Most days it happens more than once. Isn’t it just a sick and lonely feeling when you need something important from someone, and they don’t come through for you?

At Pro Athlete, there is zero tolerance for our employees to ever do that to someone. If you aren’t able to help someone right away, a quick email or text letting them know you will help as soon as you can will do the trick. We find that we only hire people who share the same frustration with leaving base runners stranded as we do. We also know that if doing any of the things listed above is acceptable to you, then you DO NOT belong here. We are all about positively wowing anyone we come in contact with, and not delivering on your promise is not a preferred wow.

If the thought of not delivering on what you said makes you sick to your stomach, then Pro Athlete might be a perfect fit for you. And if you get that warm and fuzzy feeling in your stomach when you wow someone in a good way because you went above-and-beyond with your service, then we are positive you will love it here!

On Time, Every Time, Exactly as Promised: A Look at the Pro Athlete Fulfillment Department

What do you look for in teammates responsible for delivering customers what they ordered? For us, consistency is the most important.

In our Fulfillment Center, consistency shines in a variety of ways. It starts with a crazy inventory accuracy number of 99.87%. Think about that for a second. Thousands of bats and gloves moving around the warehouse and being shipped to us and out to customers and the team can maintain an accurate inventory count of 99.999%.

Consistency also comes with a 99.99% shipping accuracy. That means that with all the moving parts, our fulfillment team is nearly perfect at getting you the correct bat every single time. Industry averages for shipping accuracy are around 98.4%.

Something else you will consistently see in the Fulfillment Center is one of the main people responsible for the team’s success, Brett Olson, wearing a hoodie with the sleeves rolled up. He will do this even when it’s 100 degrees outside. Is it a superstition, a comfortability thing, or is he trying to stick it to Bill Belichick who Brett claims stole his signature “short-sleeve hoodie look”? According to Brett, Belichick was able to make it famous because he was a national sports figure even though Brett wore it first.

Did Belichick steal his style or is Brett just bitter? We hope to find out more about Brett’s potential bitterness and how this team has built such a consistent operation for shipping bats and gloves. Check out our interview with the Pro Athlete Fulfillment department below:

Core Value Spotlight: Create a University Setting

At Pro Athlete we have 12 Core Values that we use to make every single decision in our business. They are without a doubt the most important part of what makes us who we are! Our third Core Value Spotlight gives you a deeper look into why we focus on creating a continuous learning environment within the workplace for all of our employees. Here are a few real Pro Athlete employees breaking it down for you!

ProAthleteInc.com 3.0: A Dedication to Improvement

We’re always striving to enhance everything; including our company website. That’s right; we are excited to announce the rollout of our newly-updated company website!

Over the past few years we have dedicated ourselves to better capturing our history and memories, and now we have a great place to showcase that for the rest of world. If you have been to our building, you have seen most of the things listed on our site in person, but now we can share that with everyone else.

Our new website captures our core since we added videos, updated Alumni and Wellness pages, and even added a virtual tour that we hope will give you a closer look inside Pro Athlete.

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All of the development and design work was accomplished by our Memory Officer. He did a great job of taking the site to a whole other level.

Please check out the site and provide us any feedback you might have to make it even better. Also, be sure to take the Virtual Tour. It’s so life-like you can almost taste Chef Nathan’s lunch when you pass through Ballpark Bistro!

The Game of Details

You’ve probably heard the expression, “it’s the little things that matter.” At Pro Athlete, we believe in this, and even obsess over it! We live in the details and do our best to make sure every single little piece of everyone’s experience with us is game-changing.

One of the companies that we admire is Disney. If you have ever been to Disney World, you know that they live for the details. Every aspect of the entire operation is carefully planned and executed to ensure every guest receives a magical experience. We believe in that here at Pro Athlete, as well.

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We do our best to try and play to your senses. For example, when you walk in, you are greeted with the smell of genuine glove leather that covers the interior walls of our breezeway. Then, right before you enter the lobby, you are greeted over our sound system by a recorded welcome message from our good friend and Kansas City Royals’ announcer Ryan Lefebvre. As you enter the lobby, there is a cornfield graphic on the door. This is meant to feel like you are walking into a cornfield, just like in Field of Dreams, one of our favorite baseball movies.

Once you are in the building, the attention to detail continues to grow. We are fortunate to have a lot of cool spaces in our building that are intended to make you feel like you aren’t at work. From our bar to our spa, we make sure that we brand each of those spaces with cool names, decor, and signage to make you feel like you are in a real bar or at a real spa and not at your job.

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Why do we spend so much time on these little things? It all goes back to our roots of creating a world-class experience for everyone we meet. It’s a rush for all of us who work here to see a guest take notice of our attention to detail. It’s addicting and turns into a game where we are constantly trying to one-up what we did before. There isn’t anything cooler than seeing a guest who is touring our office for the first time walk in and see their name and their college logo on our welcome boards. Then to see them take a selfie with it takes it to the next level!

As we continue to grow our team, we continue to look for people who share in this belief of wowing everyone through small details. If you think this concept is pointless or if the thought of this doesn’t excite you, then Pro Athlete is not the right place for you. However, if you get that warm and fuzzy feeling when someone notices and appreciates the attention to detail that you paid to something, then Pro Athlete is a grand slam fit for you!

Make it a game worth playing!

Not Your Typical Company Ballgame

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In 2012, a group of Pro Athlete employees casually took batting practice at Community America Ballpark. Five years later we now play a full-fledged baseball extravaganza with real jerseys, batting practice gear, mascots, walk-out music, locker rooms, videos, and much more. 

When the players arrive at the park, their BP gear and uniform hang in their locker with their nameplate. During batting practice, our assisted stretching professional helped everyone stretch. Pro Athlete employees announced the game, sang the National Anthem, and facilitated the in-between inning activities. All food and beverages were free of charge to all the spectators (it was a sell out crowd…..ok, so not really). And, the game concluded with a postgame concert from a local Kansas City band, Minor Rewind.

As much fun as the game was, the best part of the night was interacting and helping our friends from the YMCA Challenger Program. 30+ Challenger athletes and their parents were in attendance and on the field to escort players during lineup announcements. A lot of the athletes ran the bases in between innings and even stuck around to watch well-below-average baseball.

Employees raised more than $4,000 for the YMCA Challenger program, and everyone in attendance raised nearly $3,000 for the family of one of the Challenger athletes. Create Stewardship is one of our Core Values, and during our annual company baseball game, we were able to give back to a great organization, family, and athletes.

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We plan to improve the on-field and off-the-field components of the event each year. Our goal is to involve other Kansas City companies and raise even more money for charitable causes.

Thank you to the T-Bones, Minor Rewind, LFC Media and Charlie Hustle for making this year’s game another special one!

Perk Profile: Home Loan Program

A while back we noticed that more and more of our employees were going through the home buying process for the first time. One thing that we witnessed was all of the stress that can come along with making such a large purchase like one’s first home.

As an employer, we wanted to do everything that we could to help alleviate the stress that comes with the homebuying process, so we give all of our full-time employees the opportunity to take advantage of an interest-free home loan of $5,000 towards the purchase of their first home. The loan can be used towards anything to help the employee get over that hump that might seem hard to overcome.

It’s a pretty great feeling for the employee and our company to be part of something that special!

Perk Profile: Safe-Ride Program

If you know our company, you know that we obsess over customer service. That isn’t just for our customers who are buying our bats and gloves, but also for our business partners, our lenders, and our employees. That dedication to treating our employees like royalty is why we implemented our Safe-Ride Program nearly 10 years ago.

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We want to make sure our employees are safe if they are spending time out on the town. If an employee is out-and-about and doesn’t feel like they should be driving because they have had one too many drinks, Pro Athlete will pay for that employee to get to their final destination safely. Before ride-sharing apps, employees could take a cab and just bring in a receipt the next business day, and they would be refunded immediately for the ride.

Now, with Uber and other ridesharing apps, we just provide each employee access to our Uber Business account. It’s as simple as requesting an Uber and just choosing the Pro Athlete profile over your personal one. We have no limit on how often you can use it. The only rule is that it’s not to be used to bounce from place to place; it’s meant to get you to your final destination safely. The first thing a lot of people will ask us when they hear about this perk is “how do you keep employees from taking advantage of it?” First of all, we hire for culture first, and part of that is hiring people that are thankful. Secondly, we have spent years creating what we like to call an Empowerment Culture. Mainly, provide resources and allow employees creative freedom and great things will happen. In turn, nobody takes advantage of that empowerment. We might be singing a different tune if an employee tries to take an Uber from Chicago back to KC after a late night out or something!
 

Pro Athlete Family Assists In Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

Have you ever canceled a family vacation for a great reason? When Hurricane Harvey made landfall, one of our employees postponed her long-awaited vacation and, instead, traveled to Houston to assist with the recovery and rescue missions. Below is a first-hand account from Ellen Harris, a Pro Athlete front-end designer, and what she and her husband witnessed as they traded their big-vacation in for a round-trip drive to Texas to help with Hurricane Harvey recovery.

We have all been there, that countdown to a big vacation. You know the one you have been planning for months, the one you have requested off of work a whole year in advance for, the one you vow to do nothing but relax? For the past five years, Labor Day weekend has always been the placeholder for those types of vacations for my husband Toby and I. We were married over Labor Day weekend in 2011. So, every year since we have planned a vacation to a new state as a chance for us to reconnect; we hope to reach 50 years and all 50 states.

This year was no different. We booked our travels to Tybee Island, GA, and requested PTO from our work for the time off and started the countdown. But, four days before we were scheduled to leave, Hurricane Harvey barreled down the Gulf and wreaked havoc in Texas.

Georgia is nowhere near Texas, but my husband is a volunteer firefighter and Pro Athlete, the company I work for, encourages all employees to Embrace Stewardship. That’s why we changed our plans and made our anniversary vacation a mission trip to Texas instead.

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We left Thursday, August 31 with a car full of water, food, an inflatable boat, and other supplies that had been donated by fellow Pro Athlete employees, parents from our son’s daycare, and ScriptPro employees. The entire ride down we listened to the Zello walkie talkie app, planning and driving according to the needs that came over the air. When we reached Beaumont, we knew the Ford Pavillion Center was where we needed to be.

Since I have three years of animal rescue work experience, it was the perfect place. The Ford Pavillion Center had become the epicenter for all Jefferson County animals (dogs, horses, goats, pigs, etc.) that were rescued from the storm by the army of other volunteers.The animal rescue volunteers came with their trucks, horse trailers, and boats with one mission in mind: rescue the animals.

Despite the Ford Pavillion Center being filled with animals, it was eerily quiet. You could see the look of exhaustion on the animals faces from days of worrying how they would survive the flood waters. We spent the day helping organize as much as we could, unloading supplies for both animals and workers that kind-hearted people from all over the country had brought, and also loading up supplies for those who had lost everything. There is not enough empathy in the world, and no words to be said when you look into the eyes of someone who tells you they just lost everything knowing that at the end of all of this, we were going home to a house we left just the way it was.

While working at Ford Pavilion we received an email from Ashton Morgan, one of the creators of Helpers of Houston (www.helpersofhouston.com), requesting volunteer workers for different neighborhoods in the Houston area. Knowing that we wanted to help those whose homes were damaged, I quickly responded letting her know that we were willing to help with any moving or demo work that was needed and we had brought all the tools necessary for the job. Within moments, Ashton gave me a call about a lady in Pasadena who also needed help with the cleanup of her home. Without hesitation, I told her we would be there to help.

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On Saturday, September 2 we headed from Houston to Pasadena. On the way there I told Toby that I never realized how silent floods are. As you drive down the road, you can hardly tell if a house was affected by the floods until you turn the corner and see the piles of carpet, pressboard furniture, and mattresses that lined the sides of houses and buildings. It was no different when we pulled up to Donna's house; her home looked untouched, but just 25 ft to the left were overflowing dumpsters and a large pile of debris from her home and others in the neighborhood.

Saturday was spent just trying to organize a plan for her home, in all the chaos. When water gets into a house, the moisture in the air ruins more than just the items it touches. For Donna that meant having to part with a lot of items from her childhood, furniture she inherited from her mother, hundreds of books that pages would have turned moldy if not tossed, and tiny knick knacks that she had collected over the years. Along with all the organizing came the unintentional game of chess. It was a process of moving items from one room to another to sort through all the damage but also ensuring you left enough room to work on removing the drywall.

By the end of the day, Toby and I left exhausted and with the feeling of despair that we may not be able to see the house through to the end with just one day left. We exchanged numbers with Ryan, a member of the Coast Guard and also a volunteer with Helpers of Houston. His house was spared from the flooding, and because of that, he made sure to get out and help those who were not as fortunate. We let him know that we would be back tomorrow and would let him know when the house was ready for the drywall to be cut out so he could help us with it.

We woke up Sunday with the determination to finish Donna's house and leave Texas with the feeling of knowing her house was at least ready for the rebuilding stage. When we arrived at Donna's, we moved the last remaining large items out of the way, took pictures of the mold already starting to come through on the walls, and started the demo work on the wet drywall and insulation. True to his word and despite putting in as much work as we had, Ryan showed up ready to work and with the same determination we had to finish Donna's house. It was a lot of hard work, but we passed the time by listening to the hold music on Donna's phone while she waited to talk to FEMA, learned more about Ryan and his wife, and took breaks outside to talk with the neighbors around us who were also working on cleaning up homes. Around 5 pm that day the 2 ft of drywall in every room of the house was cut out and a bleach mix was sprayed to help with the possible onset of mold. Before leaving we made sure to take a picture of all us, so we could document not only the work we had done but the bond that was created through something as devastating as Hurricane Harvey.

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It is overwhelming to think how much damage Hurricane Harvey did to Houston and the surrounding areas, but it is even more amazing to see just how many people came together. From those who created the Zello groups and stayed up countless nights dispatching and rescuing those who pleaded for help, to those who went out to rescue our four legged friends who couldn't call for help, to those who volunteered and are still volunteering at shelters, with home clean-ups and rebuilding, to everyone else who has donated supplies and money to help with relief. This is what they mean by Texas Strong.

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Our drive home on Monday was a little bittersweet as we reflected back on our trip and volunteer efforts, but I kept coming back to one thing. A little over a month ago I did my 6-month self-assessment for Pro Athlete, and one of the questions asked is about how well you are doing with living the 12 Core Values. I gave myself a lower score and put on the assessment, "I still feel the same as I did at my 90-day review and that I really need to step up to the plate with Embrace Stewardship. I have started to think more recently about what I would like to spend my time volunteering for, and I just need to put a plan in action."

My plan was certainly not to be helping those in Texas after a devastating Hurricane, but I was so glad that both my husband and I could step up to the plate together and hit this one out of the park.

If you would like to donate to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey, you can do so by visiting the Houston Flood Relief Fund.

KU Basketball Strength Coach Drops Knowledge on Pro Athlete

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We were fortunate to have one of the most talented and recognized strength coaches in all of college sports in our office yesterday to speak with our employees. Andrea Hudy, or just Hudy as most people know her, spent an hour educating our employees on her methods that have helped her cultivate the most cutting edge strength program in the country.

At KU, they focus on culture, technique, and technology to help their student athletes be successful at the college level and at the professional level for some. They have data on basically anything, and everything an athlete does and they use it to help put together championship caliber athletes and teams.

Hudy has quite the resume to back up everything she is teaching her athletes. How many people can say they have worked for three different College Basketball Hall of Fame coaches? Probably not too many! She has worked for Jim Calhoun and Geno Auriemma at UCONN and Bill Self at Kansas. She has helped several athletes make it to the professional ranks, and she maintains great relationships with many of them still today.

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We have had several speakers come to our facility to talk with our employees, and one thing that has remained constant with all of them is how important creating and maintaining a specific culture for your organization has to be. There is no more important thing you can do than to have a great culture and an identity. We use our Core Values as the backbone for that culture. Think of the amazing culture that must be present for the KU Basketball team or the Kansas City Royals! It’s awesome to see that dedication to culture take place in so many other places!

Thank you to Hudy for inspiring and educating our team today! We even saw the Mizzou fans in the room engaged and clapping, which tells you how great she was!