The Inland Empire is one of the most populated regions on the West Coast, besides Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, but it is missing one key aspect that every other major city has: a professional sports team.
Zachary Schmidt, a Riverside resident, saw this problem and set about solving it by creating the “Inland Empire Dreamers,” a fantasy professional sports team that hopes to reconnect athletes with their region of origin, the Inland Empire.
“In the summer of 2014, I realized that I wanted to work within the sports business,” said Schmidt, senior international relations major at California State University, Chico. “I was having a hard time finding an internship and realized that I needed to make my own splash to get to where I wanted to be within the business industry.”
After months of planning with a small team of friends, he launched an Instagram page dedicated to promoting professional and collegiate athletes playing sports domestically and internationally under the Instagram handle “@iedreamers.”
“Little by little, the athletes started to support our business venture and our posts and now we have almost 10,000 people from the (Inland Empire) following our page,” Schmidt said.
The Dreamers have featured athletes from Riverside County, as well as California Baptist University, in order to help inspire up-and-coming athletes with dreams of making it to the professional level.
“It brings all the top athletes in the (Inland Empire) to attention and it really puts us on the map,” said Paizlee Dreyer, junior communication studies major and water polo player.
“Sometimes, the region gets a bad review for no reason and (the Inland Empire Dreamers) show that we do have top superstars that come out of the area,” Dreyer said.
The company’s Instagram is the stepping stone into a full-fledged website and business license, and acts as a way for Schmidt and his team to test the waters before initiating operations full-time when he graduates in the spring of 2016.
“It feels good to have all those years of hard work and dedication recognized and showcased to your community,” Dreyer said. “Us athletes want to make everyone in the Inland Empire proud.”