Graduating international business student Konrad Puchalski is always thinking sports. It is the chief reason that the Roosevelt student, who will graduate on May 10 with a Master's in Business Administration (MBA) degree, chose the University in the first place.
The Polish native took advantage of many sports-related opportunities, playing with three different Lakers teams in soccer, track and field and tennis, since arriving in the United States and Roosevelt University in January 2018.
"Konrad is like the mayor of the Athletic Department. Everyone knows him," said Graham Brennan, Lakers head soccer coach. "He's dedicated and disciplined and has added a lot to our program."
Puchalski's interest in sports went beyond team play and practice every day at Roosevelt's Goodman Center: It became the focus of his MBA studies and a Strategic Management class where he developed a business plan for his own sports company.
"I've learned a lot about the real world as a business student, and the classes I took at Roosevelt have given me vision for how to start my own business, step by step," said Puchalski, who set as his first priority a desire to help others in his hometown of Lodz, Poland.
That starting point has led him to consider for his business a new venture called Padel, which is a racquet sport and cross between tennis and racquetball that is gaining in popularity throughout Europe.
"I love a lot of sports and knew there were already too many gyms, so I decided to try a niche that would be a great addition to my community back home," said Puchalski, who hopes to build a club center with courts and many amenities that will appeal to Lodz residents, including high school and college students.
He discovered during research that Padel is gaining traction in Sweden, Portugal, Italy, France, and especially Spain, and could one day even be an official sport in the Olympics.
"I've learned a lot about the real world as a business student, and the classes I took at Roosevelt have given me vision for how to start my own business step by step."Konrad PuchalskiMBA '19
Along the way, the Roosevelt student talked with the president of the World Padel Tour in Spain who encouraged him to take the growing sport into Poland.
Puchalski also contacted the Polish consulate in Chicago for a letter of recommendation, and his plan is to present that letter when he meets with government leaders in Lodz and Warsaw later this month.
"Konrad is into camaraderie, team building and togetherness," said Aaron King, Lakers head cross country coach. "I believe his career will be through some kind of sports, and that he will be most successful.
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges Puchalski will face is raising an estimated $500,000 to build and open a Padel center, a goal he has learned may be possible by starting a Go Fund Me page.
"It surprised me at first that the mentality of helping others through this kind of giving can work. It's not something I had heard of back home," said Puchalski, who was encouraged to launch the Go Fund Me for his project by Roosevelt business instructor Joanne Howard.
"Konrad is very enthusiastic and determined to get this project off the ground," said Howard, who taught Puchalski's Strategic Management class. "He has worked carefully and thoughtfully through every aspect of his business plan,” she said. "I am confident he will be off to a good start with this project."