First Released Photo of Zietz presenting to the "Sharks." (Tyler Golden / Courtesy)
Me: What’s your favorite color?
Rachel Zietz: RED.
Rachel Zietz: It’s a power color.
What. A. Badass.
Now, awesome reader, breathe in big so I can fit in all things you need to know up front about this girl/player/woman/entrepreneur/badass in one long, run-on sentence:
Floridian and Pine Crest School sophomore Rachel Zietz is a 15-year-old CEO of Gladiator Lacrosse, a company she started when she was 12 years old, that would improve the backyard practicing experience for lax kids (herself included) with more durable rebounders and goals, which now grosses over 1 million in revenue and expanded its original 2 products – the rebounder and lacrosse goal – to include 10 total products and a deal with one of the game’s most decorated lacrosse players, Casey Powell, and is currently pursuing playing lacrosse in college.
BOOM. Breath in…because…
She is going to be on Shark Tank. Yes! THE Shark Tank. (ABC, 9pm, Friday, May 13)
“Rachel Zietz” is a hearty Google and will conjure article after article stating that her first container of 500 goals and 250 rebounders was financed after her experience at Young Entrepreneurs Academy, a 30-week business program aimed at teaching young people how to start and manage a company.
You'll find out that she is the daughter of entrepreneurs and that their household is a petri dish of enterprisers. Rachel has two younger siblings fueled by their own passions and business ideas. You'll learn that Rachel is competitive like her dad and values her mother's amazing time management skills.
"My dad pushes me to do better, always looking to identify the place for improvement. My mom is determined to get everything done. She helps me to prioritize and is the calming force when I'm stressed.”
You may assume what is actually true, which is that Rachel's greatest current luxury is free time. She says this happens almost never, but any simple Saturday morning when she can wake up around 8am with nothing to do for a few hours is heaven. She said that she loves watching Jeopardy with her family. Then, she said that she loves when she "doesn't have to use brain power." Teens can be so contradictory.
What you might not find out is that she loves to bake. Bake what? Banana bread. That’s what.
You most definitely cannot possibly get from things written so far about her is that when talking to Rachel, you get an immediate sense that this is not her first rodeo. She is articulate about her business in a way that you know means she has sculpted her pitch. She is savvy in conversation in a way that has you jumping on the treadmill of her expansion ideas. She is without question, comprehensively competent, using words like "astonished" to describe the way adults often view her success.
Straight up? She is confident.
This is a girl who approached one of our games’ greats and grew that fan-meeting into a profitable business relationship.
"Casey is so approachable, so kind and despite his celebrity in the lacrosse world, he always takes time with his fans."
This is a lax rat who wanted better training opportunities and solved her own problem.
“I knew I could make more durable practice products.”
This is a daughter of entrepreneurs who is learning as much from her father and mother as they are learning from her.
"I was able to avoid costly mistakes because of their experience and they now know about social media because of me."
This is an entrepreneur who runs her company from the inside out.
"It takes a while for our products to get to market because I have a long design phase. I refuse to compromise quality."
This is a midfielder whose 2 favorite things to do on the field are securing draw controls (DCs, baby!) and making big interceptions.
"There is nothing better than using my IQ to look two plays ahead and using strategy to time an interception."
This is a businesswoman who is prioritizing expansion.
"Our short-term goal is to get in with more retailers, both online and brick and mortar stores, as well as increase our product line."
This is a teenager who wants to compete.
"I wanted to be on XTEAM because it was intense and a whole different level of lacrosse.”
With Shark Tank coming up, a lot of people want to know what it was like to be in the room with the “Sharks”. Rachel says that she was surprised how small the set was compared to what it looks like on TV and that the Sharks were “nice".
In what I sensed was a rare moment of awe for this girl/player/woman/entrepreneur/badass, Rachel said that it occurred to her in a moment before they began taping Shark Tank that “These people are real. This is real.”
This real deal makes her national television debut on Shark Tank this Friday, May 13 at 9pm on ABC.
About the author: Crista Samaras graduated from Princeton University, played on the 2001 and 2005 World Cup Teams and started her own lacrosse companies in 2004, which joined forces with Trilogy Lacrosse in 2014. She is currently a coach for XTEAM and working on her next venture, BRAVE ENTERPRISES.