When Stephen Ewanouski (BC ’83) attended Boston College, his college experience was far different from those of his classmates, friends, and even siblings.
Growing up in Brookline, Massachusetts, Ewanouski graduated from Brookline High School in 1977, after which he took a postgraduate year at Phillips Academy Andover. Subsequently, he accepted a football scholarship to play quarterback at Tulane University.
After a tumultuous first year plagued by a myriad of injuries, Ewanouski had a brief stint at Boston University playing hockey. Eventually, he followed his brother, Mike Ewanouski — captain of the Boston College men’s hockey team and eventual NHL Draft Pick — to Boston College.
“I took out my loans and commuted from Brookline,” says Ewanouski. Having grown up in the area, he was well familiar with BC, spending time going to athletic events as a child. Ewanouski balanced his schoolwork with working several jobs, including bouncing at Mary Ann’s and cleaning condominium buildings.
Upon graduating from BC, Ewanouski’s first impulse was to become an attorney. After spending half a year in law school, he quickly realized that law was not the path he most desired. Subsequently, Ewanouski eyed Wall Street and built a successful career as a stockbroker over the course of a couple of decades.
While Ewanouski’s career flourished, his personal life crumbled toward the latter part of his career as a result of substance abuse. Ewanouski carried the weight of the world on his shoulders, attempting to provide for his family in the throws of an escalating addiction.
Ewanouski knew that there was a void deep within him. Enjoying and keeping the material benefits that came from hard work and financial success, while finding self-fulfillment in his life could not coexist with an addiction. “I had a passion to do something other than what I was doing,” he says. “I was just waiting for an exciting idea to come to me … I knew there was something powerful inside me that needed to come out. I now realize that the addiction was blocking that from happening.”
Admittedly, Ewanouski says that he pushed aside many signs earlier in his life. “I had a dream back when I was a broker in 1992 that I was selling t-shirts…I didn’t really connect the dots then.” As far back as twenty-five years ago, he had an idea on a plane coming home from an incentives trip to put sports logos on watch bands. Sports simply would not leave him alone.
Everything seemed to culminate with one conversation he had with his son in the midst of his divorce. His son simply asked him: “Dad, what are you going to do?”
Ewanouski knew that there was something within him that could bring fulfillment, and that a big change was on the horizon. But first, he had to begin his journey to recovery.
2007 was his first full year of sobriety. It was also the year where many of the pieces of his future began to come together. Ewanouski finally got his aha-moment when he saw a fan chanting "So good, so good, so good" during the song "Sweet Caroline" at Fenway Park.
The man, excitedly pumping his arm to the chorus of the song, was spilling mustard from his hot dog in every which direction. While many would think to laugh at the goofiness they were witnessing, Ewanouski had a vision of the man pumping a towel in his hand with the words "So Good." As a result, the SO GOOD TOWEL was born, and so began his foray into the world of sports' merchandise. But rather than just create one towel, Ewanouski decided to make a whole lot more. His second trademarked towel was the REDZONE TOWEL, a towel created for football fans. One even bears the logo of his Alma mater, Boston College, this season.
Shortly thereafter, Ewanouski started a company by the name of Boston Fan, which he later changed to So Good Sports Wear and then finally, in 2009, to Life is Sports. He began to trademark certain items for athletes which helped him secure licensing agreements with Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird and Red Sox star David Ortiz. He also expanded his horizons, making not just towels but t-shirts, hats, water bottles, and inspirational items.
Among his favorite branded line is the inspirational 153 Brand. The numerical value of the letters in the phrase “great warrior” add up to 153, as do the numerical value of the letters in “Michael the Archangel.” Ewanouski’s birthday is 5/13 and his three children were born in the months January (1), May, (5), and March (3). And if those reasons were not significant enough, he incorporated his company with a time stamp of 10:53am at Boston City Hall.
With the growth of his company, Ewanouski remains firmly planted in his roots, and attributes his success to his trust in God's plan, his kids, and his family. His mother and father, with four sons and one daughter, provided an unconditional love to him and his siblings: “[They were] amazing and selfless people. They gave us everything in the world we had to have.” In turn, Ewanouski gave his parents one of the greatest gifts he could possibly give them before they passed away — the gift of seeing their son sober for many years. “They saw their prayers get answered.”
Aside from creating products that inspire and foster a profound sense of community, Life is Sports also donates a percentage of its proceeds to the newly formed Matthew David Hall Scholarship Fund. The fund is dedicated to providing those, who lack the means to fight their substance abuse issues, with access to wilderness rehabilitation programs.
With partner Lori Bassinger, an attorney and an advocate for recognizing alcoholism and substance abuse as a disease, Ewanouski looks to raise as much money as he possibly can for the cause. With five percent of all sales on the website donated directly to the Matthew David Hall Scholarship fund, the pair is making strides to change the lives of adolescents in need. “It’s very exciting to be able to do this,” Ewanouski says.
Ewanouksi has grand visions for everything — his company, the scholarship fund that he promotes, and his life in general. However, the most important thing that he wants everyone to know is that our decisions will always affect our dreams. We must cause those dreams and our own personal greatness to come true.
With the determination of a warrior himself, Ewanouski certainly practices what he preaches. It took him nine years to get the SO GOOD TOWEL into Fenway Park stores and concessions, but he never even considered giving up. “The warrior in me would not allow me to quit. Just like with my sobriety, the warrior in me gave me the strength to not give up and keep chasing down my dreams.”
“This isn’t really about me or a unique story,” says Ewanouski. “I want people to hear this story so that [they know that] the recovery process may not be an easy one, but it is doable — and very rewarding.” Ewanouski encourages anyone with substance abuse issues to never lose faith. “Life gets better for you after recovery and it gets better for everyone around you. You may not see it right away, but the rewards will come.”
Ewanouski’s message is not simply catered to those with substance abuse issues. In fact, his message transcends that scope. Ewanouski’s message is meant for anybody with a dream or a passion: “We all have a dream within us. And it is up to us to cause that dream to come true by tapping into the strength and warrior in all of us. I hope my story inspires the warrior in someone to chase his or her dream with a never quit attitude.”