Student startup: UNO undergrad starts extreme sports network


Hannah Delzell

Every day around the globe, millions of students enroll in college courses with hopes of earning a degree, but not all students make it all the way to graduation. According to The Wall Street Journal, high percentages of students who leave home to attend college do not graduate. One University of Nebraska at Omaha student is overcoming the odds, and taking what he is learning to the extreme.

Callen Hedglen is the founder of CUSO Sports Network (CSN), a website focused on extreme sports in the Midwest. Hedglen and his team cover stories primarily in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and some areas in Colorado.

“It’s really any sport or activity that is out of the ordinary—a lot of what we are covering right now is MMA fighting,” Hedglen said.

Hedglen said for the first two years of his college career he went to the University of Missouri—St. Louis. He studied mechanical engineering until he realized the field wasn’t for him. He decided to transfer to UNO and major in I.T. Innovation. Through this major, Hedglen is able to focus on Computer Science, Entrepreneurship and Business.

Photo Courtesy of The Gateway
Photo Courtesy of The Gateway

Hedglen said the idea for CSN came in the fall of 2014 as he traveled a lot between Omaha and St. Louis.

“I just felt like there wasn’t a whole lot of people covering these stories as far as athletes specifically in the Midwest compared to coastal and mountain-plains athletes,” Hedglen said.

UNO students Matt Holtmeyer and Jake Sachs help Hedglen write and record stories for CSN. Holtmeyer is the Lead Editor, and Sachs is the Media Director for CSN.

Sachs said one of the biggest struggles he has faced while working for CSN is having no free time. He works a full time job on top of helping with CSN. Sachs said despite the struggles of maintaining a start-up business, he thinks the situation they are in is something not many people get to experience.

“What Callen and I are both excited about is to be able to grow this into a real thriving business,” Holtmeyer said.

Holtmeyer said there is incredible opportunity working for a start-up company. The three men have been able to cover some exciting events throughout the Midwest such as Snowboarding in Breckenridge, BMX racing in Omaha and MMA in Des Moines. Hedglen said right now they are trying to reach out to as many people as they can who could benefit from being covered by CSN.

“There is never a dull moment,” Sachs said.

Holtmeyer said the main obstacle facing the company is money. He said it takes a lot of time and energy to work for a start-up and finances can make it even more difficult.

“Doing what we do is a lot of fun too, so it doesn’t seem like work” Holtmeyer said.

Hedglen said they take advantage of every opportunity at hand. They rent out their equipment from the UNO library and embrace their current circumstances.

Hedglen said CSN was created with simple research and a little bit of digging. Through finding events online and contacting places, they were able to meet athletes directly. CSN established connections with individuals, and that has helped them network for extreme sports in the Midwest like never before.

Hedglen said he has big plans for the website. Together the three men want to expand on the amount of content and have a larger system covering more stories. Hedglen said he believes this is the beginning of something great for Mid-west extreme sports.

The next event CSU will be covering is the Victory Fighting Cham-pionship 49. They will interview seven fighters leading up to the event. The fights will take place on April 1 at Baxter Arena.