Almost to a fault, every entrepreneur will talk about “following one’s passion.” Well sometimes passion can be misguided or simply not something that can be made into a return on all the time you take to build. However we aren’t much without that passion in whatever we do, and sometimes that passion can lead us places we have never really expected. Take Marnie Schneider for example.
A Philadelphia native, Marnie’s life has been driven by sports. Her grandfather, Leonard Tose, was the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles and the founder of the Ronald McDonald House. His dedication to family, charity, and sports taught Marnie the importance of giving back, something she has carried forward into her career in the nonprofit sector. Marnie is the founder of the Keep On Playing Foundation, whose mission is to give underprivileged children the opportunity to learn confidence, leadership, and the importance of teamwork through sports. She has now also turned that passion into a book, one which may continue to grow well beyond its original purpose into a national movement. Football Freddie and Fumble the Dog: Gameday in Philadelphia is her first children’s book and her way of giving back to the Philadelphia community. The characters in the book find ways to tie a love of sports with the educational elements of every city they go or will go to, showing how sports, history and even pop culture can blend together.
We caught up with Marnie to talk about the project, and what she learned from all those Sundays around the “Iggles.”.
How much is autobiographical?
The whole idea for the series came from my childhood traveling with the Philadelphia Eagles. When I was a girl, we didn’t just go for the game—we visited museums, historical sites, and iconic places in every city we went to. I knew I wanted to take Football Freddie all the places I went, but that it had to begin where my story began—the great city of Philadelphia.
Who is the audience?
We wrote the book with kids from age three to nine in mind originally, but Football Freddie has something to offer kids of all ages. We really saw this as an opportunity for kids to learn more about the NFL cities, but also for young fans to learn about their own area, too. Anybody who likes football, history, or well-illustrated pictures of a girl and her dog is perfect for this book!
Why now for this book? How did the timing work out?
Kids need sports now more than ever—Football Freddie is just one way my mom and I can share the importance of sports as a teaching tool with kids and families all over the country. Sports is the universal language: anywhere you go, conversations about our pastimes bring people together. In a time when there is so much division and strife in the world, we want to remind people that sports provide education opportunities at all levels.
Tell us about the plans for the next step in the series; where do you want to take this?
We have a ton of exciting possibilities, including a couple of college towns! We want to take Freddie and Fumble to places where football is king—Dallas, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Tuscaloosa. I have vivid memories from towns all over the country, so while we’re planning the next book, there are a ton of places to consider!
We live in a visual world now; explain the marketing for the book and how this can help young people whose focus is in the mobile world?
The great thing about the digital age is that sharing something like Football Freddie with kids is made much easier by social media. We have a brand page on Facebook and I’m present on Twitter, which is a great way to get the word out and to share content similar to what’s in the book—articles about kids and sports, Eagles news, that kind of thing. Finding kids where they are—in the digital space—and reminding them that what they’re looking for can be found in a book can help bridge the gap between cyber space and paper and ink.
From your perspective what’s the biggest change in the football world since your family was involved with the Eagles?
Football was family then!! It seemed small and while competing to win is still the game, it was also about friendship and respect that probably can’t exist too much these days! For example, At age 14, I was stuck in Dallas flying home with a friend from visiting my Grandfather in Acapulco, it was before cell phones etc. I called my Grandfather from a pay phone said the plane was cancelled the next thing I know I’m picked up by the Murchinsons taken to dinner and brought to their house given a stack of Dallas Cowboy Clothing since our suitcases were stuck at the airport and it was a really fun memorable night!
Does the book have appeal for people who have no interest in football? Why?
Absolutely. The book uses football as a frame to introduce kids to important subjects that go beyond sports, mainly our country’s history and unique regional cultures. Even if your child isn’t the next team super fan, they’ll learn more about the country or town they live in and get a fresh perspective on the people that live there. Sports are a key to open the door to new knowledge and opportunities. The same way Football can build bridges between people, we’re hoping Football Freddie will build a bridge between kids and a passion for learning about history!
What’s next for you with the series?
For now, lots of book marketing, readings, and events in and around Philly and in my new hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina! Soon we’ll sit down to talk about where Freddie and Fumble will go next, whether we’ll stay on the East Coast or go somewhere farther south or west. If you’d like to suggest a town, tweet at @marnieschneidr using #FootballFreddie. Who knows? Maybe they’ll come and visit you!