For two members of the executive leadership team at Delafield-based Evans Transportation Services Inc.
, the struggles that come with being a student-athlete hit close to home.
Both Ryan Keepman
, chief executive officer, and Jason Mansur
, president and chief operating officer, experienced firsthand the long hours associated with being an athlete. Keepman played football at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
and Mansur participated in cross country track at the University of St. Thomas.
It’s for that reason that Evans Transportation made the decision to provide financial support to UW athletes Chimere Dike
and Molly Schlosser
, who have in turn become brand ambassadors.
“Being a former student-athlete and recognizing how much time is required of an athlete between school and not just playing the sport, but all the things that come alongside it, (I know) if you come into a program with no cash, you won’t ever have any unless you don’t sleep,” said Keepman.
Through his existing relationships at UW-Madison, Keepman and the Evans Transportation team became connected with The Varsity Collective
. The Varsity Collective Charitable Fund partners with Wisconsin student-athletes to promote charitable and non-profit causes. Tax-deductible donations directly support these athletes.
Businesses can choose to donate money to a general pool of funds that is then directed to UW-Madison student-athletes, or directly to a player of their choice to have that athlete help represent their brand.
In 2021, members of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) voted to allow athletes to benefit from “name, image and likeness” (NIL), permitting students to receive financial support from corporate sponsors.
“It makes sense for us to go back to our roots and reconnect with the foundation Ryan has built with the UW crew,” said Mansur.
Evans Transportation has donated an undisclosed amount directly to Dike, a wide receiver on the Badger football team, and Schlosser, a softball player. For these student-athletes, becoming a brand ambassador can involve a mix of attending events, social media posts and other charitable endeavors.
A senior who is studying communication arts, Dike started all 13 games in the Badgers’ 2022 football season, amassing 47 catches and 689 receiving yards. His six scoring plays ranked him as seventh in the Big Ten and were the most for any Badger wide receiver since 2019.
In 2022, Schlosser played in 49 games, 33 of which she started as a freshman. She had 23 hits on the year, including two triples and a double, ending the year with a .253 batting average and a .308 slugging percentage. Schlosser is currently a sophomore.
Keepman said these two student-athletes were selected because of their proven commitment to both their sports teams and education, and their personal values. Both Dike and Schlosser also have local ties. Dike went to Waukesha North High School while Schlosser went to Oconomowoc High School.
Evans Transportation plans to continue supporting local student-athletes in the future.
“The alignment with the athlete and what they’re all about, it goes without saying that it has to align with Evans Transportation and what we’re all about,” said Keepman. “It’s one thing to have the popular quarterback with a really big name, but if you’re doing it for the right reasons, I think you have to look in the mirror and understand your company’s guiding principles and make sure they’re aligned.”