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Mark Harris at graduation with John, Nicole and his teacher Nina Talley

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Student Profile - Mark Harris


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           Mark with a client
Meet E CITY Alumnus Mark Harris

Within minutes you’ll sense his passion, persistence and pleasing personality, and you’ll know there is more behind his success than his participation in E CITY’s entrepreneurship program.  Mark’s entrepreneurial traits are apparent, and if the E CITY maxim that “people do business with people they like,” holds true, then business is going to be steady for Raw Talent Sport.

Despite his natural talents as an entrepreneur, a little bit of formal business education gave him the boost he needed, according to Mark. “The E CITY program was very

informative. I learned that an idea can come to life only if you commit to doing it right.  I didn’t know what a business plan was-- there is so much detail to it.  Doing the final business plan presentation was great.  It was nice that people showed up for the competition and we had that added pressure.
Mark attended E CITY’s program in the Spring of 2004, when we formed a partnership with Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry’s Youth Employment Program.  Nina Talley was E CITY’s Certified Entrepreneurship Teacher.  She had been aware of Mark’s attempts to start a sports training business, and recruited him to attend the class.

Since then, Mark has taken up space inside the Force Fitness Center, incorporated his business, acquired some weights and other training supplies, and has developed a 

Mark speaking at the 2005 Awareness Breakfast
healthy stream of satisfied clients.  “I train young athletes, ages 11 to about 23 typically, in speed, agility, strength training, skills, positioning and the importance of proper stretching, nutritional supplements and injury awareness.”  Clients are mostly football players, tennis players, and track athletes.

He works with soccer moms, too.  Ellen (pictured) was watching her son’s indoor soccer practice when she noticed Mark nearby, working with athletes.  She hoped Mark might help her rehab after surgery, so she could return to her tennis game.  That was last fall.  “I am now way beyond where I was,” she says.  “I can’t stop.  I feel so good, and my tennis game has really improved.”  Stop in for one of Ellen’s twice a week sessions and you’ll be signing up to work with Mark, too.  “He has a way of inspiring you.  He lifts you up…he’s amazing.  And he’s not mean!”

Not only does Mark know his stuff-- he and partners Reggie Parks and John Ribbins are all certified trainers-- but he cares enough to tailor sessions to particular personalities and goals.  “Some people need encouragement,” he says.  “Others need the push or techniques to reach higher or farther.”  “We’re making you stronger mentally, not just physically.  Success is 70% mental.  Ten percent is what is your gift-- what is your desire?  Twenty percent is skill.  The rest is mental.  We train the mind and push you to the edge.  We help you control those butterflies that might shut you down and make you play it safe.”

Other recent clients include a Shaker Heights High School girls’ track team member.  “No one expected anything

Mark at his business Raw Talent Sports
from her, herself included,” Mark says.  “And now she’s going to [the state finals competition].”  Then there were three high school guys who hadn’t played football since their sophomore year, and are now playing arena football.  “I made them,” says Mark.  Like any good entrepreneur, Mark does not lack confidence.
Mark played football himself, first for Kent State University, then the Cleveland Lions semi-pro team, and then two arena teams-- the Rochester Brigade and the Buffalo Destroyers.  “I always said that maybe an injury would be the best thing to happen to me, so that I’d follow my dream of starting a business,” says Mark.  As it turned out, the Buffalo Destroyers wanted to trade him, and he wasn’t happy.  He came home, did his own training in hopes of playing for the Browns, and some parents saw him and asked him to work with their kids.  “It took off from there,” he says.  “It grew by word of mouth, with 11 kids, then 30 kids and by the end of last summer, 67.”

Mark presenting his business plan at the business plan competition

“We’ve got street credit,” says Mark.  “People can relate to us.  I’ve lived it.  I know.”  Mark hopes to one day provide his services to the CAVS and the Browns.  We expect that one day he will.  Growth is part of his plan, and his conviction is strong.

His message to other students of E CITY is this:

“Take it seriously.  If someone like E CITY comes along and wants to nourish the seeds you’ve planted, let them help you.  There will be times you’ll think that you want to forget it-- but that’s what you want to feel, because it means you’re out there working.  And if you’re going to do it, know what you’re doing.  Take the time to know your business- you can never learn enough.  It’s okay to be ignorant, but not to be dumb.  I’m still learning.”

 And Mark’s views regarding E CITY?  “It’s a beautiful thing…”

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