Proves Less Frustrating for Parents, More Fun for Kids
When most people think of potty training they don’t think of the National Football League. However, life does not always lead us down an obvious path. It can be said that this is true for Mike and Julie Leach, the creators of Potty Pals, a comprehensive potty training system.
A Career Paved By Hard Work
Mike did not always know a career in football would be his destiny. Growing up, he played various sports, including football, baseball, basketball and snow skiing. As he progressed, the idea of a college scholarship became a real possibility, and in 1995, he received one for football. Mike had significant success playing at the collegiate level. In his senior year at The College of William and Mary, Mike was named First-Team Walter Camp All-American and was soon after drafted to the NFL by the Tennessee Titans. In 2009, he was signed by the Arizona Cardinals and has played on the team for six years.
College wasn’t just about football for Mike. Before Mike and Julie Leach became business partners, they became partners of a different kind. The two met at William & Mary when Mike played football and Julie was on the basketball team. Julie’s teammate was dating one of Mike’s teammates. The two teammates challenged Mike and Julie to a 2-on-2 guys versus gals basketball game. The girls narrowly lost and had to buy dinner for the two football players. Julie and Mike have been together ever since.
Children, And An Idea, Are Born
First came love, then came marriage, then came baby-well, two babies-in the baby carriage. Today, Mike and Julie’s young ones, 9-year-old Ryan and 7-year-old Madeline, handle potty duties on their own, but it wasn’t always that simple. Julie calls their potty training experiences tough.
“It was challenging with both of our kids for different reasons,” she says. “Ryan had no interest in learning how to use the potty. Maddie was anxious to try, but then she had trouble following through. It was during Maddie’s training that we started to look for a product that helped teach children how to use the potty while also making it fun. When we couldn’t find anything on the market like what we had in mind, Potty Pals was born.”
After an NFL Consumer Products Boot Camp visit in March of 2014 and with the support of both the NFL Player Engagement Department and the Arizona Cardinals, Potty Pals went from an idea to a reality.
A Little Help From My Friend
Julie notes that kids usually have trouble with potty training because they are either scared of the potty or they do not want to interrupt playtime to use the restroom. She suggests to new parents the three p’s: patience, persistence and praise. And now another pair of p’s can be added to the list. Potty Pals introduces one of four characters: Larry Lion, Katie Kitty, Dexter Doggie or Penny Panda as the child’s potty training pal. When the child uses the potty, they celebrate by squeezing their pal’s hand so it can dance and sing for them. The tots get to choose a sticker and place it on their Potty Pals Progress Chart. The book, Potty Pals Club, is also included with the training system.
“Larry Lion has made the potty training process so much fun,” says Kristin Stanton, wife of Cardinals player Drew Stanton. “Our son loves singing and dancing along with Larry and is so proud of himself for joining the Potty Pals Club. Watch out Mom and Dad, that jingle is catchy and you will be humming it all day.”
Charity is important to the Leaches. Potty Pals is not only helpful to parents and their training toddlers, 10 percent of all Potty Pals proceeds are donated to Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Mike and Julie have made monthly visits to PCH for the last six years. They pass out Cardinals hats, teddy bears, and other goodies to help lift the children’s spirits, so it was only natural to partner with the hospital.
Mike says that the NFL and starting a business are similar. “Both take hard work, persistence and the ability to overcome obstacles.
“As a football player, I leaned on the guys who came before me, constantly watching how they did things, what I could take from their skill set and incorporate it into mine,” he says. “I wasn’t afraid to ask questions, either of those players, or of the coaches. If I tried something on the field and it didn’t work, I knew to try something different. If it did work, I would try to improve upon it. That has been our approach to business. We haven’t been afraid to ask for help, nor have we been so arrogant as to think that we have all the answers. Experience is invaluable and we have sought advice from many people who have done what we are trying to do.”
As for future goals, the pair lists making Potty Pals the go-to for potty training as one.
“I’d like to help my kids become successful in life, maybe win a few golf tournaments, and become an above average cook,” Mike adds.
The Potty Pals potty training system includes one of four plush Potty Pals characters, the Potty Pals Club book, and a Potty Progress Chart with stickers to track achievement. Potty Pals retails for $34.95 and can be found on both Amazon.com and PottyPals.com.