My professional career has spanned the legal and nonprofit sectors, and those experiences have shaped my work as the Founder & CEO of GoodSport Nutrition.
I went to law school right out of college and began my career as a trial attorney in Chicago. I practiced law for several years before being recruited to a start-up in the legal technology field. Leaving the practice of law was a difficult decision. You spend so much time and effort in law school and you feel like if you leave, you can’t return. But once I took the leap, I knew I would never go back. I found that I loved the business side of things and thrived in business development.
In 2007, I was introduced to a group of women who had launched a new cancer research organization called the Noreen Fraser Foundation (NFF) and were planning to produce a televised special to raise funds for translational cancer research. NFF teamed up with the Entertainment Industry Foundation to air the televised special Stand up to Cancer and over $100 million dollars was raised in the inaugural year. I helped align the group with Major League Baseball and oversaw our partnership with the league.
What I thought was going to be a one year passion project turned out to be eight years of leading the Noreen Fraser Foundation where we hosted our own events aimed at funding translational women’s cancer research. From that experience, I learned the importance of purpose that has guided my work ever since.
Following NFF, I spent two years at another non-profit and our office space was located inside of one of Chicago's premier venture capital based incubators. I was amazed and inspired by the environment. Companies would grow from 3 people to 300 people seemingly overnight. The energy was electric and the space was filled with incredibly intelligent people from a variety of different backgrounds. The experience no doubt contributed to my entrepreneurial itch so that when I had the idea for GoodSport, I didn’t just file it away in the “someone should really do that” department but instead, went ahead and gave it a shot.
I have three children and my son has played competitive baseball since he was little. Seemingly at every game, he was given one of the leading sports drinks. I didn’t want him drinking them because they are filled with artificial ingredients and too much sugar. We tried the natural sports drink options but he didn’t like the taste and I came to learn that they don’t provide any level of hydration beyond plain water.
Athletes of all levels faced the same predicament. They had to settle for sports drinks that were either filled with artificial ingredients or ones that didn’t provide effective hydration.
I had read about athletes who drank chocolate milk to recover and brought it for my son as a healthier alternative after his games and workouts. It wasn’t the thirst-quenching solution we were looking for but it provided the inspiration to look at milk as a source of hydration during physical activity.
Through research, I learned that milk is packed with the essential electrolytes needed for optimal hydration and that studies have shown milk is far more hydrating than traditional sports drinks and water. With that information, I set out to create an all natural sports drink from milk that would provide truly effective hydration.
It was not an endeavor I undertook alone. My partner, Andy Friedman, Founder & former CEO of SkinnyPop Popcorn, provided important advice and counsel. The attorney in me recognized that we would need an expert in the area of sports hydration to guide us. Dr. Bob Murray, PhD, FACSM, the co-founder and former director of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, joined our team to oversee the formulation and ensure our claims are based in science.
We also worked closely with the Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin and their lead food scientist, KJ Burrington, to learn how to ultrafilter milk to remove its protein and harness its electrolytes, vitamins and carbs to make a sports drink and to do it sustainably by upcycling a component of milk.
It took almost five years of research and development with teams of scientists to crack the code on how to provide milk’s hydration benefits in a clear and refreshing beverage. With 3x the electrolytes and 33% less sugar, we knew we had a naturally powerful hydration solution on our hands but we haven’t rested on our laurels, we have submitted the product to rigorous scientific testing to demonstrate the product’s efficacy so athletes can trust that GoodSport provides rapid and long-lasting hydration and improves exercise performance.
It’s funny because I almost didn’t pursue the idea at first- leaving my career to pursue something as out of left field as creating a sports drink made from milk seemed crazy- that is, until I leaned into my non-profit experience and recognized that I could use the brand as a platform for good. While at my son’s games, it wasn’t just the sports drink options that concerned me, it was some of the negative behavior I was seeing on and around the field where a win-at-all-costs mentality was pervasive. It’s a problem that persists throughout youth sports and it leads to kids dropping out of sports at younger and younger ages. The role of sports cannot be overstated- it helps foster life-long healthy habits, instills important life skills like teamwork, leadership and perseverance. It helps bridge racial and gender divides, lowers teen drug use, increases high school graduation rates and the list goes on and on. And so, GoodSport Nutrition is committed to helping create a more positive sports culture aimed at getting more people (and keeping them) in the game.
Our motto is greatness starts with goodness so we keep GOOD at the core of everything we do.
GoodSport is now available in retail locations throughout the Chicagoland area, on Amazon and our website, goodsport.com. We are proud to say that GoodSport(r) has been embraced by athletes in the NFL, NBA, MLB and is an official hydrator of Chicago’s WNBA team, the Chicago Sky. Most importantly, though, we are thrilled by the overwhelming positive consumer response to our products and to the mission of the brand.