The Women’s Initiative is a collective of women owned and run businesses that are joining together to support our mission to instill confidence and leadership skills in young girls through participation in multiple sports.
1) What do sports mean to you? Sports mean fun, joy and heart-break, movement, competition, skill-building, physical and emotional challenge. I loved playing lots of sports, especially soccer, softball, tennis and running. While my highest skill level in any of these sports is average at best, these sports have provided me with friends, a healthy outlet for stress and a regular way to exercise.
2) What is it about GPS that made you want to get involved? Because I believe in GPS’s mission. Girls playing sports increases their confidence, leadership skills and overall health. Girls who participate in GPS get exposed to a variety of sports, increasing the likelihood they will continue to play in high school, and the leaders and coaches who are involved in GPS are terrific, supportive women.
3) What does it mean to you to be a part of the Evanston community? My husband, Dave Haracz, and I have lived here 15 years and raised our five children here. We love the lake and the opportunity to meet so many interesting people here. Some who have been here forever, and some who have landed here, like us. We’ve been active in many organizations including Pope John XXIII School, the McGaw YMCA and EBSA.
4) As a successful woman business owner, what advice would you give young girls to succeed in the workplace? Such an interesting time to think about succeeding in the workplace with so many facets changing. My advice would be similar to what works in sports. Know the rules of your game. Work with a good coach and teammates that challenge you. Practice. Push yourself to know more than your own role. Set goals. Go beyond what you thought was your limit.
5) How did you get where you are today, and who/what helped you along the way? I practiced law before owning my own business. Some of that skill set translates but I don’t have a business background. The ability to ask questions and not be afraid to ask for assistance has been beneficial. That help has come from people like Evanston resident, Dave Spitulnik, who is a business consultant, who I didn’t know prior to owning Pro-Am Team Sports and programs such as Goldman Sachs 10KSB program and those offered by WBENC.
6) What does it mean to you to be a woman business owner? It feels pretty good. I’m proud to be providing jobs and helping some young people get started on their careers. I also value the opportunity to model the leadership style I always wanted to work for: empowering, transparent, empathetic leadership. I don’t always get it right but I like that I get to set that course.
7) Tell us a little bit about your business. Pro-Am Team Sports is a branded apparel company. We dress athletes in uniforms, their fans in spirit wear, their parents in corporate wear and provide promotional apparel to businesses and sponsors. Prior to the pandemic, our staff of 55 worked out of Illinois and Indiana, decorating on site. We foster a culture of teamwork + positivity + expertise, much like many coaches do.
8) Anything you would like to add? It seems like a cliché but so many skills learned from sports, even if you are not an elite athlete, end up serving you well in the long-term. I know they did for me. I’m grateful to Meg and Liz for establishing GPS and providing this rich opportunity to so many young girls in Evanston.
To learn more about Mary Dolan and Pro-Am Team Sports. visit pro-amteamsports.com.