Like many young people, Charly Tiempos and Hamsa Osman love playing sports.
But the pair of Cedar-Riverside teenagers noticed their neighborhood lacked sufficient access to sports equipment. After attending a local AdVenture Capital startup competition in 2016, Tiempos, Osman and their friend, Sayed Adan, found a way to address the issue.
The group developed an idea for a sports equipment rental program in the neighborhood. They presented the concept at local and national student startup competitions, where they won a total of $13,000 to help launch a program.
Tiempos, Osman and Adan started Sports – Check It Out at the Cedar Riverside Community School (CRCS) last year. The program serves as a library of equipment for the neighborhood, allowing youth to rent sports gear and winter clothing throughout the week.
“Basically, we had to come up with a problem in our community and find a solution to it,” Osman said. “We thought, ‘there are a lot of kids who don’t have sports equipment but like sports, so how can we help them?’”
Now in high school, Osman and Tiempos still travel to CRCS after school to run the program. Everything from bikes to winter gloves are available for check-out, thanks to funding from competition earnings and community donations.
Tiempos said they’ve been able to introduce students to new games and activities through Sports – Check It Out.
“We have community play time. That’s when we take a random game and show kids how to play,” he said. “Frisbee golf they didn’t know, and they were really happy.”
The neighborhood venture has drawn praise from community members. On Jan. 28, the program hosted its second annual “Snow Bowl” football tournament with more than 75 youth participating.
“[Students would] ask, ‘When [is] Sports – Check It Out going to be open?’ Last year we were at the school, but now they’re all asking Coach Weber when are we going to be open,” Tiempos said.
Jennifer Weber, a community outreach director and student activities coordinator at CRCS, mentors the boys and helps oversee the program.
She said their initiative has drawn interest from residents across the metro. A woman from Woodbury recently donated a carload of sports equipment.
The next step for Sports - Check It Out is developing an app that would keep track of inventory and provide a base for potential new locations. Weber said other neighborhoods have expressed interest in a possible expansion.
The development of the app is essential to getting other Sports - Check It Out locations off the ground, Weber said. The app could also help the program gain more funding.
Tiempos and Osman hope to expand their venture beyond sports and outdoor equipment with the app development. Tiempos said they hope to introduce “Classroom – Check It Out,” which would use the app’s technology to help teachers track school supplies they loan to students.
“It’s basically Sports – Check It Out in the classroom,” Osman said.