Growing up immersed in the world of football, Mooresville resident Marnie Schneider’s new mission is to help children connect with and love sports as much as she does, with her new book, “Football Freddie and Fumble the Dog: Gameday in Philadelphia.”
Marnie’s grandfather, the late Leonard Tose, owned the Philidelphia Eagles from 1969 to 1985, and guided them to their first Super Bowl in 1981. Her mother, Susan, acted as the team’s general manager and legal counsel during that time, and that left young Marnie with an extensive knowledge and appreciation for the sport that has stayed with her into adulthood.
“As the only child of a single mom, I would travel from city to city, seeing the sights and learning about each NFL town,” said Schneider. “I was really fortunate as a child that I had those opportunities.”
She also spent a fair amount of her childhood in the Eagles’ office, sneaking next door to the Philadelphia Phillies to check out their snack bar and get free tickets to baseball games.
After graduating from Penn State with a degree in broadcast journalism, Schneider spent the early days of her career working for NFL Films and acting in movies such as “The Wedding Singer.” Recently, she decided to move to Mooresville from Los Angeles to be closer to friends and family, and for the school system, as she has three teen children.
“Everyone here is so nice and genuine, and we love it,” she said.
With her children settled in their new home and enrolled in the Mooresville Graded School System, Schneider could get back to one of her favorite pastimes, writing.
“I’ve always loved to write; it’s such a great outlet,” she said of how her book got started. “The idea for Freddie was modeled after me, using the experiences I had growing up.”
Her goal was to write a book that was both interesting, but also short enough that parents would enjoy reading it to their children, and kids would want to pick it up and read it themselves. She teamed up with her mother, Susan Spencer, and combined a love of history, football, and family to create Fredericka, better known as Freddie, and her trusty canine companion, Fumble.
“I’m sometimes asked about why I named her dog Fumble, and it’s because fumbles aren’t necessarily considered a good thing in football or in life,” she said. “However, things in life do get fumbled, and it’s an important lesson for kids.
You make mistakes in life. Even professional athletes make mistakes, but it’s OK, as long as you get up and keep on playing.”
The book took about eight to 10 months to write, and was picked up by Mascot Publishing. The book will be turned into a series, with Freddie and Fumble visiting each city that’s home to an NFL team. The characters tour the towns and share facts about each place, before hitting the big game.
“It’s incredible how successful it’s become in such a short time,” Schneider said with a smile. “It’s number one on Amazon in the children’s sports and travel book sections.”
The book’s success fuels funding for Schneider’s other passion, giving back. Proceeds from the book's sales will go to her family’s charities, A Level Playing Field Foundation and the Keep on Playing Foundation, which supports sports programs in local communities.
“My mom started A Level Playing Field in the 80s, and it helps children in underprivileged communities who can’t afford the physicals and equipment it takes to participate in sports,” she explained. “Safe equipment is expensive, but necessary, and making it easier for children to play can change the trajectory of their life. They can earn scholarships and go to college.”
She added that “getting kids to play has turned into a passion of mine as well.”
“Before phones and technology was really out there like it is today, kids were more silly and playful, and I think that’s an important part of life,” Schneider said. “Sports are also a universal language and help bond families and friends together.”
Schneider’s own Keep on Playing Foundation works with The Boys and Girls Club to pair them with local minor league baseball teams, giving the children “a VIP experience” at minor league games, as well as follow-up tutorial camps. She’s also able to help distribute donated equipment to kids who might not be able to play otherwise.
Tying in the book and her philanthropic efforts seemed like a natural pairing for Schneider, as “the book is great product, and for the price of it, you get to help a child and build a better community.”
“Football Freddie and Fumble the Dog: Gameday in Philadelphia” is available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as the Mascots Publishing web site, for $14.95.
Schneider aims for her next book to be about the Carolina Panthers, and hopes it will be out in the spring.
“We pretty much have the template and some great ideas, so we just have to narrow down the historical highlights of Charlotte,” she said.
For more information about Schneider’s latest book, or upcoming releases, visit www.footballfreddie.com.