The Locker Room Project co-founders Rashad Jennings and Christina Hovestadt have been there before. The NFL player and former high school teacher know what it’s like to try to balance sports, academics, friendships, and family relationships. Through individually serving the youth in each of their areas of influence, they recognized the needs of student-athletes were not being met. Locker rooms around the country were filled with student-athletes trying to navigate life on their own, many without a role model to help guide the way. Determined to work on filling some of these gaps, but unsure how, Rashad and Christina joined forces in 2015 and turned to a local high school to start a movement.
It started at midnight in high school gym. Student-athletes from the high school came together determined to improve the self-worth of their peers and use their influence as student-athletes to help others. They would each write a note of encouragement to each opponent throughout the season. With each letter, a wristband with the word “valued.”
The response was incredible. Stories flowed in of lives that were being touched with the timely letters of inspiration. A chain reaction started and many of the athletes who received the wristbands from different schools began paying it forward by giving their wristband to those who felt needed it the most – with some even ending up in third-world countries.
Thus, The Locker Room Project was born. Today, the mentorship initiative is comprised of sports professionals – from current professional and olympic athletes, to coaches, League and team staff – who are eager to use their platform to serve as mentors and role models for the next generation through a digital platform. Through life-skills training, academic accountability and interactive mentoring with professional athletes, high school student-athletes have the opportunity to join a community for athletes, by sports professionals that have been there.