Monday, May 15, 2023

When the best defensive back in the Big Ten Conference entered the NFL in 2013, his dreams extended beyond tackles and interceptions.

Micah Hyde, a cornerback at the University of Iowa, never sidelined the entrepreneurial approach he developed in college, even after being drafted by the Green Bay Packers. Now in his 11th season — seventh with the Buffalo Bills — Hyde is part of more than a perennial Super Bowl contending professional football team. His Imagine for Youth Foundation, which focuses on helping children achieve a healthy, active, and educated lifestyle, sold 16,000 tickets to the third annual Micah Hyde Charity Softball game at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York.

Throwing out the first pitch to the softball game May 7 was Joe Sulentic, Hyde’s professor in the ENTR:3500 Social Entrepreneurship class he completed at the University of Iowa.

“To have the students take what they learn in class and apply to the real world, that is the ultimate that we’re all striving for,” Sulentic said. “It’s not just some theory in an artificial environment classroom, it’s taking it into the world and making it work.”

Hyde’s softball extravaganza has momentum. It sold 1,800 tickets in the first year, 10,000 in the second year, and reached a stadium-capacity 16,000 in 2023.

“He wants to help kids,” Sulentic said. “He is a good person and smart student. I try to tell the students in class, if you want to make the NFL, you better get your act together on multiple levels. Even if you just pay attention in class, that might show how you’re paying attention in a meeting with your coach. We have to do it on brains, too, and our discipline and work ethic.”

Sulentic remembers the tagline for Hyde’s business idea from the college assignment: Imagine If We Were All In. Other students on Hyde’s team went out in the community and they donated sports gear to underprivileged youth in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. Now, the foundation has expanded to football camps, charity softball games, and donation drives in Hyde’s hometown of Fostoria, Ohio, Green Bay, Wisconsin, Iowa City, and the Buffalo communities.

It's not too late for University of Iowa students to enroll in two of Sulentic’s summer classes that begin June 13 and will work with Hyde’s foundation as part of the curriculum. The first is the ENTR:3500 Social Entrepreneurship class that provided the jumpstart for Hyde’s charity. The other is ENTR:4000 Building a Social Brand Through Social Media.

“If you guys are in his class for this summer, we would love to work with you,” said Hyde, a two-time second-team All-Pro. “It will be a nice little collaboration between us.”

There are still openings for the summer courses. To register, go to MyUI.

To read more about the connection between Sulentic and Hyde, click HERE.