Starting off the 2019-2020 school year on a positive note

On Wednesday, August 14, St. Thomas High School hosted Kevin Atlas (Laue) and the team at Varsity Brands, parent company our athletic equipment supplier, as a stop on the “Believe in You” tour.

Kevin Atlas, at nearly seven feet tall with his left arm discontinued just below his elbow, is known as the first disabled player in NCAA history to receive a full Division I athletic scholarship in basketball. Growing up, Kevin faced several hardships including a split custody household, the early death of his father, and a legion of critics prior to his success. He refused to use a prosthetic arm, but defied the odds. In 2007, Sports Illustrated named him, “the most exciting player in basketball.”

Kevin went on to become one of the top high school basketball players in his home state of California. He also played one post-graduate year at a military school in Virginia and earned a full athletic scholarship to join the Manhattan College Jaspers in New York City. After a successful college basketball career, Kevin played professionally in Asia and has since become one of the top young professional speakers in the nation.

In 2019, with the support of Varsity Brands, Kevin became the host of “Believe in You,” a motivational video series that is being shown to middle schools and high schools across the country. The mission of Varsity Brands is to elevate student experiences through sport, spirit, and achievement. “We heard Kevin speak at a school, and realized our missions aligned in wanting to create a positive environment for students. Kevin expressed that he could not reach as many schools as he would like, and we formed a partnership to help accomplish his dream and fulfill our goal of transforming campuses,” said Lisa Bartlek, “Believe in You” Tour Coordinator.

St. Thomas Athletic Director, Mike Netzel, collaborated with our athletic equipment supplier, to help bring the movement to our school. “BSN sports reached out to us about this opportunity and after researching the movement, I planned it so we could do it the first week of school, providing a positive impact for the year,” said Netzel.

In his speeches, Kevin uses his own inspirational journey as a jumping point to examine the challenges faced by others every day. His triumphs help audiences see their own problems in a new light. He shares his story to help change attitudes and perspectives of youth, corporate, faith-based, and international audiences.

With rising pressures on today’s youth, this tour aims to create a movement to inspire youth to first believe in themselves, and secondly believe in others. The mission of the “Believe in You” campaign is to challenge students to support one another by committing to attend a school event that they never have before to demonstrate support for kids with different interests.

Netzel adds, “With the new school year approaching, this movement will help build a community by teaching students to be servant leaders and accept one another despite their differences.”

To learn more about the #BelieveinYou challenge here: www.believeinyou.com

ABOUT VARSITY BRANDS
With a mission to elevate student experiences through sport, spirit and achievement, Varsity Brands has created a platform that drives change through three unique but interrelated businesses – BSN SPORTS, Varsity Spirit and Herff Jones. Together, these divisions promote personal, school and community pride through customizable products and programs for elementary and middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities, and anyone in between.

ABOUT BSN SPORTS
Founded in 1972, BSN SPORTS believes that sports have the power to change lives. At the heart of what makes sport happen are the coaches and mentors who work with kids and young adults to build meaningful lifelong experiences. That’s why our mission is simple. Help our customers save time off the field so they have more time to impact lives on it. BSN SPORTS is the largest supplier of team sports equipment and in the U.S. with over 2,500 employees across 80 offices. Headquartered in Dallas, the company leverages its unparalleled scale, cutting edge technology and relationships with the best brands in the world such as Nike and Under Armour to service over 100,000 customers.

ABOUT HERFF JONES
For nearly 100 years, HERFF JONES has been the leading provider of graduation and recognition products and services designed to inspire student achievement. We partner with schools to create engaging campus environments and to help young people celebrate and commemorate their school experiences. Our products include class rings, graduation regalia, jewelry and yearbooks, as well as motivation and recognition tools and resources.

ABOUT VARSITY SPIRIT
Since 1974, VARSITY SPIRIT has been the driving force behind cheerleading’s dynamic transformation into the high-energy, athletic activity it is today, and the leading global source for all things cheerleading and dance. Focused on safety, entertainment and traditional school leadership, we are a leader in uniform innovation and educational camps, clinics and competitions, of which more than 320,000 cheerleaders and dancers attend each year.

ABOUT KEVIN ATLAS
At nearly seven feet tall with his left arm discontinued just below his elbow, Kevin faced his fair share of adversity in his early life. Born and raised in the Bay Area of California, Kevin grew up in a split custody household, overcame the early death of his father, and faced a legion of critics prior to his success. He became one of the top high school basketball players in his home state, played one postgraduate year at a military school in Virginia, and earned a full athletic scholarship to join the Manhattan College Jaspers in New York City. By doing this, Kevin achieved becoming the first disabled player in NCAA history to receive a full Division I athletic scholarship in his sport.