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  • Ty Switzer

Crafting Success from Setbacks: Part 1

By: Ty Switzer

Growing up, I always pushed the boundaries of what many consider "normal."

One of my first memories was asking my parents to take the training wheels off my

tricycle so I could ride a two-wheeler, just like the big kids in the park. For what seemed

like weeks (they say it was only 4-5 days), I begged and pleaded for them to remove

those two stabilizing wheels that served as a safety net for kids my age. My parents

responded to my request with a half smile, but no action was taken, and the training

wheels remained. They believed riding a two-wheeler was beyond the capabilities of a

child who had just celebrated his third birthday the week before.

As strange as it may sound, at three years old, I trusted myself and my abilities despite

everyone's doubts. It could be because I had two older brothers who gave me

confidence, or maybe it was something else. Regardless of the reason, I took the family

toolbox without asking, and removed the training wheels on my own. No other kids my

age were riding a two-wheeler bike; witnessing the shock of the adults and kids watching

me in the park was my first experience of feeling proud (and also very different from my

peers). It was more than just riding a bike; it was about proving that I could defy

expectations, regardless of age or what was considered "normal."

*4 years old - 2007

Riding that two wheeled bike at 3 years old was my first memory of “pushing the

boundaries” and I carried this mindset into just about everything I did from that day

forward. It started with my obsession with skateboarding every day at the age of three,

where I taught myself tricks on rails and ramps that my mom would help me set up in the

park. This led to a skateboard contract offer by a Tony Hawk scout just two years later. "I

look for kids without fear, and your son has none," the scout told my mom. My desire to

stand out was not limited and expanded into many other endeavors at a young age.

Baseball was another passion where I thrived on the challenge of earning recognition

from leading and respected coaches as well as my peers, ultimately receiving an offer to

train for a year and earn a spot in the Little League World Series. The decision to stop

playing baseball was tough; I couldn't play both sports at a high level and was unwilling

to give up the sport I truly loved: tennis.

It was in 2009, at age 5, that changed everything for me. I had the privilege of watching

Roger Federer play live at the US Open. I knew immediately that tennis had captured my


From that moment, tennis became the central part of my life, a sport I embraced with every fiber of my being, unaware of the incredible journey it would take me on.

While many parents would push their kids to play a particular sport, I pushed them to enter me into tournaments they didn't even know existed.

Tennis became my all-consuming obsession. I would sit at the US Open, sometimes for

17 hours straight, watching every match. I was usually the first to arrive at the venue and

the last to leave. I looked for more than just an understanding of the sport itself; I wanted

to understand the tools and equipment necessary to give me a competitive edge; no

detail was too small. During this period, I often watched the racket stringers at local

tennis shops, absorbing knowledge about string types and tensions. After a persuasive

conversation with my parents about the long-term cost-effectiveness of owning a

stringing machine, they agreed, and I started stringing my own rackets at 9 years old.

*Analyzing how tennis rackets were strung (2012)

From that young age, I took on the full responsibility of stringing my rackets to ensure

they were meticulously strung so that I could optimize my game fully. This newfound

independence meant I no longer had to rely on others to prepare my equipment for

competition. Within a few months, I found myself stringing rackets not only for fellow

players but for their friends and family as well. This marked the beginning of my first

business venture. I found great satisfaction in using my own two hands to deliver a

quality product, not to mention being fairly compensated for my work was incredibly

gratifying as well.

Once my over-achieved “normal” expectations became a reality, luck would strike again.

At the age of 10, I received a full merit scholarship to the John McEnroe Tennis

Academy. This incredible opportunity allowed me to embark on a transformative journey

under the guidance of two legends, Patrick and John McEnroe. The two had a profound

impact on my development years both as an athlete and an individual, which I am

extremely grateful for.

Playing competitive sports comes with injuries, as we all know. But at 11 years old, I already had more than my fair share......a broken ankle as a result of sliding into home plate, a split growth plate from pitching, 4-5 stress fractures, a few sets of stitches, a couple of broken fingers, and now this...

"You have an avulsion fracture of the lesser tuberosity at the subscapularis attached to the humerus bone. This is an extremely rare injury, and only a few cases were everreported in an adolescent.” These words changed my life.

Once again, I was considered "not normal" but for the wrong reason this time. In simple terms, I pulled acentimeter-sized piece of bone off my shoulder, and surgery was the only option for

reattachment. Left without any use of my right arm for months, my stringing business

and any hopes of playing tennis for at least the next 6-to 7 months came to a halt.

*Leaving the hospital after shoulder surgery (2014)

I felt robbed of my independence, confidence, and dreams. At age 11, I was already very

independent, having lived alone in Europe for most of the year at a tennis academy. Now

I was at home recovering, in tremendous pain from surgery, feeling isolated with my

whole world as I knew it turned upside down.

I became very self-aware, quickly understood the importance of embracing change, and

started looking for new opportunities on and off the court. I had one functional arm and

missed being on the tennis court. So, I pivoted and taught myself to play "lefty," which

began with countless hours of hitting a ping-pong ball against the wall in my kitchen.

Gradually, I progressed to tennis balls, hand-fed to me on the court; before long, I was

hitting live balls and eventually felt a sense of proficiency using just my left arm. Being

forced to step away from competitive tennis for an indefinite period was incredibly

difficult; However, this setback ignited a surge of entrepreneurial spirit in me off the


These injuries and setbacks helped me recognize from a young age the importance of

finding my identity and pursuing other interests beyond the sport. I went from stringing

rackets to reselling shoes, egged on by a family friend's success in sneaker reselling.

This journey was about independence, taking control, looking within, and finding myself

amid chaos.

A "cook group" is a community of sneakerheads who pay a subscription fee and are

provided with exclusive resources and expert guidance to successfully obtain and profit

from limited edition sneakers, releases, and products. These groups help facilitate

profitable ventures and foster a platform for social interaction and networking.

I was sidelined physically when my shoulder was completely immobilized in a brace; this

is when the intense learning curve began. I joined several "cook group" communities

eager to absorb every bit of knowledge like a sponge. The money I earned from stringing

rackets allowed me the freedom to buy my first pair of Lebrons when I was 11 years old.

I quickly flipped (resold) them for $350, making a $125 profit, which led to an exciting

introduction to the sneaker world. Before I knew it, I was traveling the country and buying

tables at Sneaker Con events, where I would create a table display and sell my shoes to

some of the thousands of buyers who attended these events. The individual nature of

tennis left me wanting a community, so I created my own. Next Gen was born, a “cook

group" that would outperform and offer more than any other group on the market... and I

provided it all for free.

*Photo of my booth at Sneaker Con, NYC (2017)

During this stage, my motivation was about something other than the money;

it was about learning and connecting with a community that genuinely appreciated what I had to offer.

I was shaping trends, providing information, and sharing my passion with others. Within a few months, I grew Next Gen to nearly 20,000 members while managing over 15 employees. The cash burn rate was rising as we grew, so I made a choice to shift focus and switch Next Gen to a paid subscription group. The results were impressive; I managed to maintain a 90% retention on paid subscriptions for the duration of the group and helped the group "as a whole" generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit.

As my tennis pursuits intensified and I embarked on the ITF world junior circuit in 8th

grade, life became increasingly demanding. My first tournament was in Boqueron,

Puerto Rico, where our stay was abruptly cut short by Hurricane Maria, a CAT 5

hurricane heading directly towards us. After my initial match, we returned to the hotel

and we were instructed by the police to evacuate; facing an alarming situation with just

$40 in cash and credit cards no longer being accepted, limited gas, no accommodation,

and closed ATMs, our three-hour drive to San Juan was full of uncertainty.

Despite these overwhelming odds, my mother's calm demeanor provided stability, when

there was none. We found temporary refuge in San Juan and ultimately sheltered the

entire day at the airport, prepared for the worst. In a stroke of luck, we managed to

secure seats on the last flight out, just minutes before the airport closed. The disorderly

and slightly panicked boarding process, coupled with the presence of passengers and

their diverse array of pets allowed on board, served as a stark reminder of the gravity of

our situation and the inherent unpredictability of life.

My experience in Puerto Rico served as a lesson in creating opportunities when faced

with seemingly impossible challenges. It resonates deeply with me today and is the

essence of my current clothing brand, YOU, emphasizing the power of a positive,

focused mindset to overcome adversity and shape one's destiny. This experience in

Puerto Rico went beyond mere survival; it stood as a testament to the notion that even

when one's back is against the wall, there is always a way to find a path and create



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