Four Livingston lacrosse team seniors help lead non-profit organization, 'Game-Changers Project,' to promote education and the growth of the sport in all areas of the state. From left, are Ari Roitman, Luke Wright, Jared Ende and Mitchell Konstandt. Seen in action for the Lancers are Roitman (1) and Ende. To find out some more information just log onto http://www.gamechangersnj.org. (photos courtesy of Game-Changers)
Livingston Laxmen Help Others
With ‘Game-Changers Project’
By Steve Tober
How do you combine a strong interest in business and finance with a lifelong love of the sport of lacrosse?
Livingston senior attackman Ari Roitman and friends, who are major movers behind Game-Changers Project are finding a positive mix of twin passions for the betterment of other young people around the state.
“We want to give back to the lacrosse community, and we’ve worked to find a positive connection between personal financial literacy and lacrosse,” said Roitman, the founder and chief executive officer of Game-Changers Project which also involves other senior Lancer laxmen including Luke Wright, who is the organization’s president; Jared Ende, who is director of events; and Mitchell Konstandt, who is head of operations. “We would all love to see lacrosse become more inclusive and we’d like to see students from all economic situations and from different areas of the state be able to enjoy playing this great sport at all different levels, including at the college level.”
The Game-Changers Project, which is a non-profit 501 (c ) (3) organization, became a reality 19 months ago with some careful planning and then implementation, and it has had an immediate impact in terms of helping to stir an interest in both the concepts of business and lacrosse for young people.
The organization developed a strong connection with the Union County Boys and Girls Club and their chief executive officer Russell Triolo, and the Lancer laxmen from Game-Changers Project were able to put together a unique event with the Boys and Girls Club in Elizabeth where they met with several youngsters and set up a creative and effective demonstration to help teach some finer points of business including a simulation of the popular TV program, ‘Shark Tank.’
The Game-Changers Project’s version of the TV show was able to get youngsters involved in learning about making pitches for a proposed new business venture before a panel of judges and the back and forth discussions were beneficial for all involved.
“It was a lot of fun to mix in ideas about financing companies in a simulated, but very effective manner,” said Roitman. “Using the idea of Shark Tank was a way to mix in ideas about the potential growth of small businesses while also stirring interest and making the entire process enjoyable at the same time.”
One of Game-Changers Project’s great early success stories was being able to raise $30,000 in its first six months, including building enough funds to be able to award its first scholarship to a New Jersey high school lacrosse player hoping to play the sport while going on to study in college.
After applicants were interviewed a $25,000 college scholarship was awarded to Columbia High School senior laxman Darien Waite, who is still in the college decision process with Georgia Tech one of his possible destinations next fall.
“It was great to be able to raise the money we needed to award a scholarship in our first year,” said Roitman. “Darien is a terrific young guy and we were so proud of him as our first scholarship recipient.
“Our goal is to continue to provide scholarships to more future college lacrosse players in the years to come.”
It is a solid team that has been formed at Game-Changers Project which also includes other Livingston students such as Hugo Vays, who serves as corporate secretary, and Reed Plotnick, who is co-director of events.
The multi-talented advisory board for Game-Changers Project includes a number of individuals with diverse skills and experience to help boost the wide array of capabilities for the burgeoning organization, including Chris Dent, who is a former Penn State lacrosse player and also a member of two MILL championship teams; Philip Ende, who has great experience in the real estate field and is on the board of directors for the Livingston Junior Lacrosse Club, Ian Hunter, a U.S. Military Academy graduate with an extensive background in brand management; Jonathan Roitman, who is a military veteran and former West Point laxman and is currently the chief operating officer for American Airlines; William Wright, who is an experienced attorney with a New York City law firm and also another former West Point laxman, and Mark Konstandt, who has extensive experience as an executive in the areas of supply chain, logistics and operations, and is president of the Livingston Junior Lacrosse Club.
“We’re fortunate to have some very talented people behind us at Game-Changers Project,” said Roitman. “And, we’re excited to continue to do what we can to promote business education while also hoping to help make the great game of lacrosse spread to more areas and for many more people around the state.”
Donations to Game-Changers Project are tax deductible. For more information on the organization and how to give, visit http://www.gamechangersnj.org
Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister
Columbia High School graduate Darien Waite (28) was first recipient of scholarship provided by Game-Changers Project which also met with the Boys and Girls Club of Union County for a special business seminar that also included simulation of the popular television program, 'Shark Tank.'
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