Cleveland Browns' star Joshua Cribbs is undoubtedly one of the most popular members of the team and public figures in Cleveland. He is a local star having played his collegiate years at Kent State University and currently serves as a special teams star and wide receiver with the Browns.
Cribbs has developed quite the following around town and actively interacts with his fans. Like many professional athletes he engages his fans on Twitter via @JoshCribbs16 but also is actively involved with the very popular Twitter-centered fan club @TeamCribbs.
For those not familiar with TeamCribbs, it can best be described an entity that has been created to support Cribbs and the Cleveland Browns while giving fans the chance to win some pretty cool swag. While not run by Cribbs himself, he is actively involved. I did however have the opportunity to talk with Lisa Hahner, the founding woman behind TeamCribbs.
When I asked Hahner what first interested her in Cribbs and inspired her to start the fan club she opened up on a personal level.
"I was a daddy's girl." Hahner shared. "I grew up with football, wrestling, and baseball. Kind of "boy things." I have memories of sitting on my Dad's lap watching Browns football on Sundays, and they are some of my best memories growing up!"
Cribbs, however, elicited a special reaction.
"Saying that I love the Browns, win or loose--you have players on this team that dedicate their lives to us as the fans. In my opinion that is the definition of Josh Cribbs!" Hahner exclaimed.
"I would talk to Josh and his wife Maria on Twitter all the time, and they go to the same restaurants as myself and friends, so I would always say hi."
"After a while I said to him, "One day we should start a fan page on Twitter, but it can't be one of these pages that just post pictures we have to good things with it!""
And this is how the idea of TeamCribbs was born. But I was curious; anyone in theory could start a fan club for his or her favorite player, what would make TeamCribbs different than any other out there?
"Josh is involved in every decision with TeamCribbs, and he approves every shirt design we do. He personally signs all photos and trivia prizes we give away the cards for the Birthday Club." Hahner humbly boasted. "We do TeamCribbs signings at local events, we did a huge event at the Boys and Girls Club, and last Christmas we helped a family providing their tree and all the gifts. It was an amazing experience!"
The fan club gives away quite a bit of memorabilia on a regular basis at no charge to the "winners", including shipping. Naturally I was curious where all this stuff came from.
"Most of the giveaways come from me, any shirts I sell the profits go back into the club. I would describe it as a cycle. I sell a few shirts and then use that money to buy more wristbands photos to giveaway. Any money that is left over we try and give to charities."
After hearing this I was truly impressed. Hahner has taken her passion for Cribbs and the team and transformed it into something most fans could only dream of. She interacts with her favorite player and is able to share than with many more equally passionate fans.
Hahner shared with me that there are bigger plans in the works to connect with fans on game day. Obviously Cribbs' direct involvement there is a bit lax due to game-day obligations.
"TeamCribbs have some big plans in the works for upcoming Browns football "tailgating" season. I have teamed up with the Barley House in Cleveland and 92.3 The Fan will be broadcasting live every home game. I will be in their lot with my Official Browns Backers Crew @PumpkinNation, and my good friend Tony Madalone who owns @FreshBrewedTees. [Tony] works with me a lot on printing my TeamCribbs gear and charity work."
Cribbs had nothing but praise for Hahner when asked if he had anything to add.
"Lisa has been very instrumental in helping me connect with fans on a daily basis both thru social media & outreach events in our local community. She has facilitated & personally assisted me in the support of our neighborhood teams & it's local standout athletes!"
"[Her] ideas has given me the opportunity to better engage myself with the community maximizing my ability to give back to those who are in most need & especially deserving." Cribbs concluded.
It is rare to find a professional athlete who legitimately cares as deeply for his fans and community as Josh Cribbs. Even more rare is finding a fan that selflessly facilitates the opportunity for other fans to feel the same way as she.
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