Similar to many other professional athletes, Chase Minnifield struggled as he transitioned to life off the field — now, he’s hoping to help other athletes in need of direction.
Minnifield’s NFL career didn’t last long, spending two seasons on and off the Washington Redskins roster before retiring with an injury settlement. Once the career was over, Minnifield wallowed without closure.
“Essentially, I was a football player and only a football player for as long as I could remember,” Minnifield said. “It was my life, my end all, be all. I didn’t think there was anything else and it was essentially a forced transition. I was still young and couldn’t believe it’d come to a point they didn’t want me.”
He called the post-playing career transition the “most dangerous period for any athlete,” but while Minnifield trained and waited for that next team to call, he decided he needed to start a business to keep his time occupied. Having college experience moving in and out of student housing, he launched Helping Hands, LLC, which provides moving and cleaning services to college dorms and housing units.
College move-in and move-out days are hectic times and property owners and schools need the days to go smoothly, or it could result in disaster, Minnifield said.
“It was just from experience,” he said. “The situation wasn’t getting any easier, and any company I’ve seen with success says I bet I can provide a service or product to make something more efficient.”
His early endeavors helped Minnifield blossom into a serial entrepreneur, starting EZ Turn, a digital vendor-management platform extension of Helping Hand. In its first year, EZ Turn helped 30 clients and managed more than $1 million in invoices.
Earlier this year, Forbes named Minnifield to their Forbes 30 Under 30 – Sports list.
Minnifield’s businesses quickly expanded to campuses across the country, including University of Maryland, University of Pennsylvania and University of Virginia, helping former teammates get a start on life as he franchises Helping Hand.
“We can do this anywhere there’s a university, they all have the same issues of moving in a short period of time,” he said. “And I want to help as many athletes as possible, just trying to provide an opportunity in a place I didn’t want there to be an issue for my friends to struggle transitioning like I did. It gives them a soft landing into entrepreneurship.”
He said his mission in his career now is to help shift a paradigm among minorities from needing to work for money to creating their own incomes. He hopes starting EZ Turn can help send a message about the ease of breaking into the technology industry through digitizing life on a micro scale.
“I took a problem I see every day and filled it with tech, that’s an opportunity,” he said. “It’s about being able to fill day-to-day problems moving forward, if it’s not you, it’s going to be somebody else.”
The post-career struggles of athletes are well publicized, and now players like Minnifield, as well as leagues and agencies are doing their best to jumpstart athletes thinking about their off-the-field business.
“It’s when they show up and when they’re willing to invest in their future, we should be willing to invest in their future,” Priority Sports Agent Mike McCartney told FOS on why the agency offers a seminar on post-career life. “There’s a lot of scary statistics, we don’t want them to be a statistic.”
For athletes transitioning from their playing days, the thought of moving outside their former everyday focus can be daunting. For many not already facing that wall, entrepreneurship can also be a scary path forward, with constant reminders that failure might be a step away.
Minnifield wants to bridge those two gaps and provide all that’s necessary to help people get started on a road to self-employment.
“I really want to get rid of that stigma,” he said. “Let’s change the perspective of how to see entrepreneurship and see there’s an opportunity, it’s around us in every form and fashion.”