On the morning of September 11, 2001, Robert Herzog dropped off his laundry, picked up his mail, and took the local C train to work instead of the express A train. When he arrived for work at the north World Trade Center tower that morning, nearly 300 of his coworkers were dead. Stunned by his inexplicable escape from death, Herzog battled through his trauma by focusing on the good things in his life. Earlier that year, he met his wife-to-be playing coed softball. He had enjoyed the league but felt he could do better. Tempered by the sense of charity and community that was so ubiquitous after September 11, he opened ZogSports—a sports league that donates 10% of its profits to charity—in 2002. Since then, leagues have spread from New York and the northeast out to Atlanta and the Twin Cities. Casual competitors in their 20s and 30s team up in touch-football leagues and indoor-volleyball leagues, making new friends on the field, at postgame happy hours, and at preseason press conferences. When teams sign up for ZogSports's leagues, they choose a charity to represent. From there, teams compete to win the league championship, come up with the funniest team name, or order the most drinks at the bar after the game, all of which earn them money for their charity of choice. To date, the company has donated more than $1.5 million to various charities.
Sand shifts and slides beneath the feet of the athletes who traverse it. It softens pressure on the joints, but provides additional resistance for the volleyball players who favor the beach form of the sport. These are fundamental truths that Conquer's owner Jake Marshman understands. They are why his gym contains three pro-level indoor beach volleyball courts. There, he hosts classes that allow beach volleyball enthusiasts to practice their sport at any time of the year. This is a unique opportunity in Minnesota, where indoor courts are scarce, and the government has recently upgraded winter to the Ultra-Deluxe version.
But the sand isn't for beach volleyball alone. Marshman also hosts race and obstacle training that's inspired by the popularity of races like Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash. During training sessions, the sand becomes a medium that mimics the slipperiness and resistance of mud (though without the mess). Students can practice their hanging, jumping, and vaulting skills on more than 20 obstacles that pepper the gym, from hanging rings and monkey bars to a towering warped wall.
When John Richardson was teaching 4-year-olds how to kick a soccer ball during a preschool class, it may not have been immediately obvious that this was a career opportunity. However, the recommendations from parents after that initial class snowballed across the Minneapolis area and Richardson soon found himself coaching more sessions and introducing kids to more types of sports. Today, Revolutionary Sports has grown into a team of 50 coaches who lead classes and camps for an array of ages and ability levels. Among its many duties, the staff teaches youngsters how to shoot a basketball, hit a baseball, spike a volleyball, and weave football flags into umbrellas.