Scott D. Hedgcock grew up with Husky football.
Now, he’s helping Huskies grow.
Hedgcock — a Kingston native and North Kitsap High School alum — was 12 when he attended his first UW football game, the “All I saw was purple” 31-0 upset win over USC in 1990. Hedgcock’s grandfather taught at UW, and his dad attended the university. His family owned season tickets from 1993 to 2001, and Hedgcock attended UW for two years as well — before finishing his degree at Northwest University in Kirkland.
“I grew up a Husky fan; kind of been a Dawg my whole life,” Hedgcock said.
Personally and professionally, Hedgcock and the Huskies continued to intersect. When he helped launch the financial advisory firm Aletheian Wealth Advisors in 2019, Hedgcock and Co. hired a pair of former Husky football players — kicker Cameron Van Winkle and running back Lavon Coleman — as associates.
From there, an idea emerged for annual internships.
“As we developed this relationship of networking and us helping them come along as younger guys,” Hedgcock said, “[Van Winkle and Coleman] were like: ‘This is really cool. We should start talking to guys who are still in college, so maybe when they transition out of college they have a few more tools and it’s not as hard.’
“So that was really the genesis of it. It was really them leveraging relationships and us opening up the internship opportunity for folks and saying, ‘Hey, we are huge supporters of Husky football, and we have a lot of time we’d like to invest in helping these young men learn really basic stuff around business and finance.’ ”
In the last several years, Aletheian Wealth Advisors has provided internships to a dozen UW football players — offering what former walk-on offensive lineman Chase Skuza called a “basic financial literacy curriculum.”
But when name, image and likeness laws — which allow college athletes to benefit from autograph sales, sponsored social media posts, personal streaming channels, training lessons/camps, speaking engagements, promotional appearances, personal merchandise, endorsement deals, etc. — went into effect in July, Hedgcock and Skuza wondered how else they could help.
“You can hand a guy a fish, or you can teach a guy to fish,” Hedgcock said. “We thought about, would it be good for us to do some sort of NIL deal with them?
“I think one of the take-aways that Chase and I had was, what if we could do something that wasn’t just doing a deal, but helping guys do their own? We could use it as a Business 101 experiment where they’re involved and they’re trying to set it up and run it as a business, where they’re taking more ownership. Because you’re learning a lot of things that are, in my view, more valuable than just getting paid a chunk of money.”
Which is how Montlake Players Camps LLC was born. Founded by Hedgcock and Skuza — the latter having interned at Aletheian Wealth Advisors last summer — the company is designed for UW players to directly benefit from hosting youth football camps. The first such camp was Saturday in Bothell for ages 8 to 14 and featured a quartet of coaches in quarterbacks Dylan Morris and Sam Huard, and safeties Alex Cook and Julius Irvin.
By last Tuesday, 94 kids had paid the $65 sign-up fee — with Morris, Huard, Cook and Irvin set to split roughly 90% of the revenue.
(Montlake Players Camps is unaffiliated with donor collective Montlake Futures, which is organizing its own camps and events this summer, but Hedgcock said Montlake Futures is helping to promote their camp and “we’re all on the same page.”)
They settled on youth camps, Hedgcock added, because “there’s actual value being created. There’s giveback to the community. It just checks a lot of boxes.”
It lets players with less public pedigrees profit as well.
“You could pool the athletes together and really capitalize on having one or two guys as the face [of the camp], but also have a couple guys who aren’t necessarily the face but are working the camp and getting paid just as much,” said Skuza, a Sumner native who played at UW from 2017 to 2021. “That’s kind of where we started and where we’re starting to head.”
Speaking of where they’re heading, Hedgcock said they’re attempting to organize an offensive line/defensive line camp for high schoolers — spearheaded by UW offensive lineman Geirean Hatchett — in July. The idea is to use Montlake Players Camps as a mechanism for players who wish to profit while also giving back.
“One of the guys who’s in the current camp was just asking, ‘Hey, if I wanted to do clinics, could I run it through this [company]?’ ” Hedgcock said. “That’s actually one of our goals: really for anybody who wants to do it and has an idea, has a target age group, has a field they’ve identified where they want to do it, yeah, we’ll help them do it.
“That’s literally why we named it Montlake Players Camps. We wanted it to be available for any of those guys that want to take the initiative to do it. We see it being a resource for them.”
Granted, it’s not a massive moneymaking venture. (Hedgcock acknowledged that he doesn’t plan to personally profit from the camps.) It’s also not an excuse to pay recruits six-figure sums, as might be the case at some competing programs.
“If there’s UW donors that are giving guys huge deals, great,” he said. “That’s just not my niche or what I see us being able to fulfill through this.”
For Skuza — who earned a political economy degree from UW and works for Fidelity as a financial representative — his role with Montlake Players Camps provides a different kind of fulfillment.
“I figured, why not?” he said. “It’s something I can do on the side, and it’s something that keeps me together with the UW community. I’m a huge UW fan. I’ve been a Dawg for life. I bleed purple. I love the program. I love what they’ve done for me. That’s what I did for my five years there, just gave myself to that program.”
Together, Hedgcock and Skuza are continuing to give.
“They have some really cool opportunities [as student-athletes] that no one else has, so I don’t want to take away from that,” Hedgcock said. “They get college paid for. They get a lot out of it. But it’s almost like they have this full-time job of college and this full-time job of football, so they miss out on certain other opportunities that other students have — like working jobs or internships. It’s just really hard for them to do that.
“That’s really it. It’s the desire to give back to the community and a group of people that have always provided a lot of value to my life. Admittedly, it’s not the same group of people I was watching growing up. But they’re similarly situated. It’s wanting to continue to engage in those relationships, where we do the [financial] internships and the mentorship here. But to see them grow and take this stuff on, it’s fun.”