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Inspiring the next generation of athlete innovators

A dynamic conversation with Sun Devil student-athletes on a future in entrepreneurship, innovation, and sport.
November 19, 2019

For a second year in a row, the Global Sport Institute teamed up with Arizona State University’s Entrepreneurship + Innovation and Sun Devil Athletics for a dynamic conversation focused on entrepreneurship, sport, and how current Sun Devil student-athletes can build an innovative career.

Panelists included Jeff Kunowski, Global Sport Institute’s Associate Director of Innovation Programs, as well as, Jeminise Parris from the ASU Women’s Track and Field team, and Roman Rozell from the ASU Wrestling team. The event was moderated by Brittany Martin, the Program Manager for ASU Entrepreneurship + Innovation, and a former Sun Devil student-athlete herself. The discussion focused on how Sun Devil student-athletes can utilize an entrepreneurial mindset to begin building their own innovative business or career.

Jeff Kunowski has had the unique opportunity to work with Sun Devil Athletics and directly with their student-athletes interested in entrepreneurship and innovation. A main point of contact for the group, he connects them with the necessary resources to be successful, and serves as a dedicated mentor throughout their journey. During the panel Jeff spoke about his continued commitment to helping young entrepreneurs, stating that he would always be persistent in his pursuit of helping the next generation of innovators to succeed. Jeff went on to describe his working relationship with Jeminise Parris and Roman Rozell, and how he has used his experience as a resource for them in their own entrepreneurial journeys.  

Pictured from left to right: Roman Rozell, Jeminise Parris, Brittany Martin, and Jeff Kunowski



Jeminise, who is originally from Trinidad & Tobago, had trouble discovering what she wanted to pursue as a career. After taking careful consideration, she identified entrepreneurship as a career path. After getting connected with Jeff, they worked together to nail down the type of business Jeminese wanted to start. She found she wanted to focus on helping people, and give back to her community. For her that meant creating an app for athletes, like herself, that were from the Caribbean and hoped to be recruited by U.S. colleges. Jeminise herself experienced the difficulties of gaining exposure and making the right connections. The app’s purpose aims to help others going through this same situation. In regards to what advice Jeminise could give to those in the audience, she shared with them, “Be patient, ask a lot of questions, and be hungry for success.”

Roman Rozell also spoke about his unique journey as a Sun Devil student-athlete and entrepreneur. Roman is currently a walk-on for the ASU Wrestling team after serving 14 years as a U.S. Army Special Forces Green Beret. As a 34 year-old student-athlete at ASU and a military veteran, his story is unique and inspiring to others. Like Jeminise, Roman found that he wanted to help others. He began by speaking to veterans in mental health hospitals and soon after spoke to athletes and professional sports teams — thus kicking off his business as a motivational speaker and life coach. He now works with Jeff Kunowski in order to grow his business and expand his path as an entrepreneur. 

Arizona State University student-athletes in the audience look on during the innovation panel.



The discussion culminated with Jeff, Jeminise, and Roman sharing additional advice. Jeff spoke about how athletes have many skills that are transferable to the world of business and especially in the world of entrepreneurship. Jeminise and Roman urged their fellow student-athletes to begin finding their path early on and to take advantage of the many resources available through the Global Sport Institute, Sun Devil Athletics, and ASU overall. To cap off the conversation, Jeff shared one last sentiment that, “persistence, facing challenges, and commitment are all traits of both an athlete and an entrepreneur.”