URI soccer player begins business to help kids in need

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — A University of Rhode Island student-athlete is doing her part to help children get a proper education in developing countries.

Taylor Ross plays soccer at URI and started her first business at the beginning of her college career. Fueled by her passion for soccer, she created “Cleats Count” with her brother, which donated cleats to children in developing countries.

“It really just started as a thing in my free time,” Ross said.

The Burrillville native traveled twice to Africa, first to Ethiopia and then to Kenya. The trips helped Ross’ company transform into something even bigger.

“The founder of the facility told us that ever since the kids found out we were coming with soccer gear, their grades ended up getting better,” Ross said.

When Ross learned the school wasn’t up to government standards and would close, she knew then she wanted to step up and help. The company re-branded again, this time to manufacture soccer goals for stadiums, colleges and clubs nationwide. All of the proceeds would help her build schools in developing countries.

“It’s good because as long as soccer has even been a thing, there have always been two goals on the field, so I’m thinking we can definitely run with this maybe forever,” Ross said.

Ross named the company Crossbar, with a personal meaning behind it.

“Your crossbar is something that connects the two posts, so for us, we’re trying to connect our world with their world and really make a difference in between them,” Ross said.

According to Ross, the success of the business is remarkable, with her and her brother landing the number one sports equipment manufacturer in the nation to partner with the company.

When asked what inspired her to give back on a large scale, Ross’ answer was simple.

“Because I can,” Ross said.

Ross said she knows the goal will be hard to reach, but that won’t stop her from trying.

“Soccer really excels these kids to do better in school, and when they do better in school, if they do better in school, they’ll have a better chance of getting a good job,” Ross said. “This helps the economy, so the idea behind it is to be sustainable so hopefully if we can do this for a long time, we’ll help lift them out of poverty.”