TAMPA BAY– On the field, Tampa Bay Storm wide receiver Prechae Rodriguez has demonstrated that individual success in football is often defined by personal statistics and individual accolades.
Rodriguez is currently entering his first season with the Storm, but it is no stranger to the game, having spent the previous four seasons in the Canadian Football League where he recorded 158 catches for 2,098 yards and 12 touchdowns, while also earning the honor of Most Outstanding Rookie in 2008.
But off the field, Rodriguez has learned that success comes rather through a state of mind characterized by a combination of determination, leadership, and above all, an incredible work ethic.
Attributes such as these are prevalent in Rodriguez’s off-the-field business endeavor, in which he operates his own fashion merchandising company, Alpha Stahr Apparel, an urban clothing line that will soon be featured at the upcoming Gasparilla Fashion Week here in Tampa, FL.
“Basically it’s a clothing line for everybody,” Rodriguez said. “It’s for anyone who wants to be true to themselves, be original, and express their different personalities.”
The middle word in the brand’s name is an acronym that stands for “Stay True And Have Respect.”
It’s an expression Rodriguez obviously likes, but also one that he can relate to on a personal level.
Following a successful high school basketball career at Jefferson High School in Tampa, Rodriguez took advantage of a curious opportunity that arose the summer before he left for junior college in Kansas, in which he took part in the And 1 Mixtape Tour basketball competition, which was hosted by the University of South Florida just down the road from the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
He went on to win a dunk contest and was offered a contract to join the And 1 Tour, even earning the nickname "Special Delivery" from tour members in attendance. But Rodriguez turned down the potentially lucrative opportunity after taking time to place his priorities in order.
“I always loved basketball,” Rodriguez said. “But I wanted to go to school.”
Rodriguez said that the decision was indeed a difficult one, but in the end, feels as if he made the right choice.
“It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” the wideout added. “You know it’s funny sometimes to think about where I’d be if I went the other way, but I’m the kind of guy who likes to live with no regrets and I like to think that a lot of the choices I make are the right ones. So, it’s tough to say how things would have turned out, but right now I know that making that decision has gotten me here where I am today.”
And it’s also the basis for the founding of Alpha Stahr Apparel.
As a student at Auburn University, Rodriguez took classes to help train him for life outside of football.
Now, as CEO of the company, Rodriguez is responsible for drafting many of the artistic designs himself which are then emblazoned on each specific article of clothing. He also oversees inventory, manages both the marketing and advertising objectives, and manages his own web site in which many of the company’s clothing items are displayed for public viewing.
For now, Rodriguez said the company is still getting off the ground, but that’s not to say that Rodriguez doesn’t’ have high hopes for its future.
“It’s in the beginning stages, but the biggest thing I’ve been impressed with so far is its progress,” Rodriguez said. “The Gasparilla Fashion Week should turn out to benefit us and get us a little more exposure, and then we’ll see where it goes from there.”
Ultimately, Rodriguez’s goal for the business is to soon see his own products in retail department store chains.
“My mom used to be a fashion model, so I kind of grew up around good style,” he laughed. “To see my clothing line in stores would be fitting.”
The fulfillment of his overall goal for the company would signify the end of a long road for Rodriguez, who bounced around several American cities and spent stints in nearly every major hub throughout Canada before returning to Tampa Bay, looking to cement himself as a prominent figure in his off field profession.
This season, that’s exactly what Rodriguez hopes to do while donning the blue and gold of the Storm, both on and off the field.