Back when KTTP first started, my goal as the founder was to host an event with US Soccer. What or how, I didn’t really know, all I knew was that if we were able to make something happen I would consider Kicks to the Pitch a success.
Within the first few months of KTTP, I had been sending Instagram DMs to various people and posting on my Instagram to see if any followers were connected to US Soccer. It was about a week after I posted something that I had received a DM from one of the head equipment managers of the USMNT at the time. Back and forth we went about sneakers and on and on we went as I justified my reasoning to connect with the National team. It took a little bit of time, but finally, the opportunity was presented.
In parallel to this, I had been working my own angles to create a connection with the team. I remember sitting back thinking of a plan to pitch to US Soccer for the upcoming 2014 World Cup. I thought that if I could get this idea into the proper hands they would have seen nothing like it and for sure it would be in the bag.
I spent about a week flushing the ideas out and came up with the concept that I work back with an artist friend by the name of OG Slick to create a custom font and number set for the “Bomb Pop” kit top. This would be created and sold in a limited run of units as a lead up to the 2014 World Cup.
Per usual, basketball is some way shape or form involved in this story. This time it is no different. I was sitting in the bleachers at a semifinal Mater Dei High School basketball game and my boy Charlie told me that Jurgen Klinsmann might be in attendance that night. For some of you who don’t know, Jurgen lives in Southern California and his son attended the high-profile sports school of Mater Dei. He never played soccer for the school per CIF rules, but he was part of the basketball team. From what I am told he was a crazy athlete and that alone got him onto the top High School basketball team in the nation that year. So back to sitting in the stands, the half time clock goes off and I look over and sure enough, it was Jurgen Klinsmann chilling with his wife in the stands. Thinking back to my goal of working with US Soccer, I shoot straight over to him to share my excitement that he is watching basketball first, second that the US team was looking like they would make the World Cup and lastly, I asked him who I could share my idea with. We spoke the full length of the half and I left a bit geeked that I had met a legend and I also left with an email of the person I should contact. Mater Dei ended up winning the game and the night seemed to be a complete success.
About a week or so after I had met Jurgen at the basketball game, I sent off the email with my idea clearly written down. With all the confidence in the world, I eagerly awaited a reply. It only took about 10 days for an answer, but it was nothing like what I thought I would get. It turned out that the person I emailed had passed me off to some secretary thinking I was inquiring about a marketing job within the federation. It seemed as though the person failed to read the email in detail as I took the L on the chin. Not only was I pissed but I took this as motivation to prove the person on the other end of the email wrong.
Remember while this was going on, I had been in contact with the equipment manager who was working with me to get this in the proper hands of someone. I was sitting in a hotel room in Manila Philippines when I got a text from my contact that a person by the name of Jay Berhalter was interested in chatting. Quick to jump on the call I set up a time with Jay to explain what Kicks to the Pitch was and how it was a dream of mine to work with US Soccer.
Let’s fast forward about 4 months to Carson, CA. We had locked in a deal with US Soccer to host an event with them in San Antonio, TX around the USA v Mexico match. I was in the tunnel of the Stub Hub center at the time and I had been talking sneakers with a friend Ives. Back and forth we went about our favorite Jays and sure enough, a man walks up fully suited chiming in on our conversation. Ives introduces me and we continue to talk sneakers as a group. As we began to chat, his name clicked in my head as the guy who Jurgen had connected me with and had brushed me off to the US Soccer secretary. Without skipping a beat, I jumped in and said you are the guy who blew me off. His face turning bright red, he said he didn’t know what I was talking about and I proceeded to show him the email I had sent into him. He was clearly distraught and embarrassed as we knew I was a guest of Jay Berhalter. After a few jabs and smart comments to him, I smiled at him and told him that it was all good and I understood why he did what he did. It was all love at that point and to this day the gentleman and I remain good friends.
I tell this story to share the fact that you should never give up on what you are trying to accomplish. I was just a guy with a thought. That thought turned into a hope, and that hope turned into reality. I pushed and pushed and tried various ways to make sure that it happened. It had been my dream to create KTTP and do something for my national team. It happened within a matter of 6 months. The US Soccer event was the first actual event KTTP hosted on its own. We partnered with some amazing artists including Transhoeformer, DJ Jack Da Rippa, and the legendary graffiti icon Stach to create a one of a kind atmosphere blending all aspects of the culture we love with our favorite sport. To say thank you to Jay Berhalter and the US Soccer people wouldn’t be enough as they are the ones who kick-started our brand you see today. A dream come true within a short amount of time only made me aspire to the next. After 5 years of KTTP, I am proud to say we have continued to make our dreams reality all while chasing new ones.