With the passing of graduation, many former Colorado State University-Pueblo students are wrestling their way through the job market. One former mass communications student, however, is a step ahead of the pack.
Travis Bliss, class of 2008, mass communications major with emphasis in public relations and advertising, leadership studies minor, started his own non-profit organization in 2007 with help from his friend Sean Taibi, a student at the University of Northern Colorado.
The goal of the organization, Impact Athletics, is to showcase high school basketball players to recruiters. Bliss and Taibi are the founders and the coaches of the Colorado- based club team.
“The most rewarding moments for me so far have been the time spent coaching and getting to know the kids that we are working with,” Bliss said, in an email interview.
Both he and Taibi played high school basketball and earned athletic college scholarships.
“Being able to pass on my knowledge and experiences with the game of basketball has been a great feeling, but more importantly knowing that I am playing a part in potentially getting them to college, giving them opportunities that they would not have had otherwise is what we are all about and that to me makes everything worthwhile,” Bliss said.
He has been playing the game from a young age, starting when he was around 5; he said that it is something he has always loved to do and to be involved with. He received a scholarship to CSU-Pueblo and played for the ThunderWolves during his first two years of college.
“I got injured during my second year at Colorado State University-Pueblo. We were playing a game in Colorado Springs and I got my legs taken out from under me on a defensive possession, I came down with my hands out behind me and broke both of my wrists,” Bliss said.
The time he spent healing gave him a chance to think about his life and the direction he wanted to go.
“After that I decided to put all of my focus on my school work, and really started thinking ahead to the future and what I wanted to do with my life after college,” Bliss said.
His hard work was noticed by the faculty of the mass communications department, he was awarded the departmental honor of mass communications student of the year for 2008. He graduated cum laude and was a four-year member of the President’s Leadership Program.
“Going into my freshman year I was really unsure about what I wanted to do, but after taking the 101 media and society course with Jen Mullen I was sold on the mass communications department; from there I decided to emphasize in both PR and advertising,” Bliss said.
He said that the entire faculty has been supportive of him throughout his college career, with one member in particular making a difference in his life.
“I really enjoyed all of the professors in the department, but I would say that professor Mullen had the biggest impact on my life. Her knowledge and enthusiasm for her profession is contagious and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to study under her,” Bliss said.
Starting a non-profit organization takes a lot of work, doing it while attending college takes a lot of dedication. Bliss said that his family instilled a solid work ethic in him that has helped him achieve his goals.
“I was born and raised in Pueblo and I have a very close family, my parents Mark and Sandy Bliss have always been supportive in everything I do, early on I was taught the importance of hard work and perseverance. My parents instilled in me the notion that I could do anything I set my mind to and I have tried to live my life according to this principle,” Bliss said.
In order to start Impact Athletics, Bliss said he needed to put together a board of directors, create and implement a working budget, fill out a lot of paperwork including the 501(c)(3) tax exempt status with the IRS and create the bylaws of the organization. Finding members of the community to support the project has proven invaluable.
“Mark Sims has been a great help. He is currently a teacher at Haaf Elementary, and the chairman of our board of directors, but he has been involved with various boards and committees in the community, most notably the associate executive director for the Historic Arkansas River Walk. He is familiar with the ins-and-outs of non profits and has been a terrific resource,” Bliss said.
He said that Impact Athletics is still in the early phases of development, and that he is excited about the potential for growth within the organization.
“We currently have 10 kids that will be playing for us this summer and we have been practicing for the past couple of months, preparing for the summer tournaments we will be attending. The first of which is May 16-18 in Denver, Colo., followed by tournaments in the month of July in Texas, Las Vegas and California,” Bliss said.
In preparation for the busy summer, Bliss said that he has been working on scheduling and coaching practices, coordinating travel arrangements for the tournaments, as well as networking with local foundations in an attempt to get additional funding.
“We have received a warm welcome from the Pueblo community thus far, and within the next year I anticipate we will have a strong presence in the entire southern portion of the state,” Bliss said.
For more information on Impact Athletics, visit the Web site www.impacthoops.com.