Sports opens doors

Published 8:17 pm Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Keddrain Bowen, a former Washington High School student-athlete, is grateful his sports-related company has been named among the top 50 such companies in the nation.
Fanatics 101, a sports apparel, collectibles and memorabilia enterprise, has two stores, one in Asheville and the other in Johnston City, Tenn. It also has an online presence at Bowen is president and founder of Fanatics 101.
“Your peers, the vendors — it’s pretty much everybody. They go to the site, vote for you. You get nominated by some of your vendors. Then they have people vote for you, people who feel you are on top,” Bowen said about how Fanatics 101 made the top 50 list.


The award came last month at the Sports Licensing and Tailgate Show, formerly known as the Super Show. The show used to be held in Atlanta, but it’s now held in Las Vegas, Bowen said.
Bowen, who graduated from WHS in 1998, worked at National Spinning for about a year before heading to the West Coast to play junior-college football at Ventura College in California. Bowen received a scholarship to attend and play football at Tusculum College in Greenville, Tenn., where he graduated with a sports-management degree in 2003.
The journey to starting and growing Fanatics 101 wasn’t an easy one, Bowen said.
“How we first got started is that after I graduated from Tusculum College, I couldn’t find a job. Everybody kept saying I didn’t have enough experience. You have a degree; you know how that goes,” Bowen said during an interview Tuesday while in Washington before headed back to Johnson City. “So, I started selling clothes out of the trunk of my car. I took $300 and worked my may up. … Just this past year, we were awarded one of the top 50 stores.”
“I’m really excited about the growth that we have. It’s one of those stories that can touch someone else. When I was here, I was all-state. I am in the Walk of Fame at Washington High School, won a state championship in track,” Bowen said about his path to business success. “Then there was the disappointment about not going on to a big-time school.”
Becoming a father and the responsibilities that entails delayed Bowen’s dream of playing college football and getting a degree.
“Most of them were excited because they know how it was,” Bowen said when asked about the reactions of family members and friends upon learning his business is ranked among the top 50 of its kind in the nation. “I had a kid straight out of high school. So all the struggles and dreams of going to play football and all that stuff — you didn’t go. It was more of a shame I felt because the community really wanted to see me go off and play ball and do something good. I felt crappy, man.”
Those uncertain days are behind him now, and his future looks bright, Bowen said.
Fanatics 101 is considering expanding, possibly to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., or Spartanburg, S.C., Bowen said.
Bowen said the opportunity to attend Ventura College opened a door for him.
“To me it was a second chance. I was looking for an opportunity. It was a second chance for my life, for me to say, “Now, I can prove that I can play ball.’ Even though it was a backdoor way to get in, hey, I did end up getting a scholarship,” Bowen said.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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