Lory Ankiel and Brijet Whitney Create The Athletes Guide
On July 31, 2010, Rick Ankiel received a call that just about every Major League player knows he will get in his career but never expects. He was informed that he had been traded from the Kansas City Royals to the Atlanta Braves, and he was to report the following day in Atlanta. Fans across the country see these types of transactions every day, but they never see what happens next to the player’s family.
“I was newly pregnant at the time,” Rick’s wife Lory Ankiel recalls. “I think I was only 12 weeks pregnant, so I was sick all of the time. Rick had to report the next day, so I had to call in reinforcements to help me. We had to pack everything up, ship the cars and get everything to Atlanta. Meanwhile, I had no idea where we were going to live. We have two big dogs—a Rottweiler and a Siberian Huskie. Is someone going to allow us to move in with the dogs? We don’t even have a realtor. That’s when I realized that there had to be more than just an email between wives to make this transition work.”
Brijet Whitney, wife of hockey star Ray Whitney experienced a similar upheaval during Ray’s career. “Ray was only traded once in his 23-year NHL career,” Brijet says. “And it was the one year I didn’t think there was a chance he would get traded because he was injured.”
Finding themselves needing to relocate their families, find places to live, new doctors, new schools, new everything, both Lory and Brijet couldn’t believe there wasn’t any service in existence that could help athletes find their bearings in a new city. That’s why they joined forces to create The Athletes Guide for professional athletes and their families, so they could adjust as rapidly as possible in a professional sports world where changing uniforms and cities is more common than ever before. “We had both been working on something separately,” Brijet says. “Once we connected, it made perfect sense to join forces.”
The Athletes Guide aims to help athletes and their families have a reference guide for a new city without having to rely on a team to provide the services they need. “I wanted people to be able to dial in right away and feel comfortable that you could find a good realtor, a quality school for your children, a doctor if you’re pregnant, without having any issues,” Lory says. “Baseball players move so much. It’s so easy for things to go off course. When Rick was in Houston with the Astros, we messed up with our apartment and couldn’t get out of the rent when he ended up going to the New York Mets. So we had our mortgage for our house, and we were paying rents in Houston and New York. But what if a player moving to Houston could rent our place instead?”
The Athletes Guide app is password protected for professional athletes and their families, provides information to help people make the transition in cities around the country. It covers the cities for pro sports teams and athletes in Major League Baseball, the NHL, NFL, NBA, MLS and even the PGA.
“It’s such a unique lifestyle,” Lory says. “The husbands know each other because the play against each other. They see one another at the stadium. But the wives often don’t know each other at all. I wanted to create something for the wives, so it’s not such a huge traumatic transition for families and kids. You create a nice network of people, so that you can reach out and get the information you need.”
“We had been keeping a lot of this information all along,” Brijet adds. “Different wives on different teams in different cities would keep notes on a lot of the things we include in the guide. What we’ve done is connected all of these things to make it more useful and accessible for everyone.”
“In talking to my friends, the need is there in every sport,” Lory says. “The best part about it is that everything on the site is recommended by families who have used the services. Not a single thing is recommended because I put it there. The information you are receiving is from people who have been in the same situation that you find yourself in.”
For more information, visit theathletesguide.com.