Staying independent has shaped who we are and who we continue to be.
Here are the inspiring stories of the Independents who lead rather than follow, and who change the game not only for themselves, but for those around them.
We know Francisco as a stylish and exciting baseball All-Star, but his roots are much more humble. He began as a quiet young hopeful from Puerto Rico, arriving in America at the age of 12 with big dreams and even bigger drive.
Because he was unable to speak English, Francisco's father wrote "I do not understand" on his hands to help him navigate. And this obstacle didn't stop him. His fearless energy and drive made him a leader both on and off the field as he became a #1 draft pick.
Now a confident and charismatic star, he's never forgotten his Puerto Rican roots and remains true to his strength of character and unique sense of style — something he brings to everything he does. Both veterans and newcomers to the game look up to him because of the genuine character and independent spirit he's bringing to the game.
Meet Francisco Lindor, the future of baseball.
Middle-distance runner Brenda grew up in a community where it wasn't always easy to thrive. She had to work harder than most to forge her own path and is leading the way for young female runners today.
Brenda's fierce spirit, grit and pure determination changed her life and brought her achievement despite the odds. Her passion started through a running club. Despite only having cut off jeans and shoes too big for her feet, her starting point didn't determine her future.
Today, she holds a bronze medal in the 800 meters from the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, 2013. Brenda truly represents the spirit of giving back, a common thread among New Balance athletes. She started running camps for young girls to give them the chances she didn't have. Brenda became a leader, following no path but the one she cut for herself, and now inspires legions of girls with her all-girls running camp.
Paul is considered by some as the #1 lacrosse player in the world. He's won accolades at all levels of competition, including NCAA Championships, Professional League MVPs, a World MVP and MLL Championship MVP. Still, Paul refuses to be just a player.
He's now accomplished a unique feat, becoming an elite athlete with a professional empire off the field. Beginning with a Facebook page in 2009, Paul's grown his audience into a broad multichannel network, built a nationwide events business, co-founded a venture investment company, and is considered the world's most tech-savvy athlete.
In addition to a regularly scheduled YouTube channel, Paul launched his "Suiting Up Podcast" to discuss high performance lessons from the most prominent athletes and entrepreneurs in the world. All of his pursuits off the field feed into his pursuits on it. Deeply passionate about growing his sport, he is involved in the business of lacrosse as much as playing it; constantly growing it and doing everything he can both on and off the field to drive its future. This drive to change the game and leave a mark comes from within.
There are those who transcend through pure physical skill, there are those who transcend through strategy — and there are those like soccer star Rose Lavelle who do both.
Dedicating herself to learning every aspect of the game, she made education of equal importance in her training. And she didn't stop there. Instead of withdrawing from college to go pro, she maintained her commitment to education and learning. Rose kept her academics on par with her sport and conquered both. She applies that cerebral approach to the game today, often being called "The Architect" for the way she approaches the game.
Her continued focus on the mental side of the game is paying off. As she continues to play a vital role racking up wins for the US National Team, many comment and believe in her potential enough to label her as the future of US Women's soccer. But in true Rose fashion, she stays humble and keeps focusing to hit her next milestone with the team.
Jürgen has always had soccer in his blood. After spending 15 years as a professional player, he found his true calling in inspiring others to greatness as the manager of one of the world's most storied football clubs, Liverpool FC.
While most managers are stoic and subdued, Jürgen remains as excited and inspired by the game as ever. He has led the rapid rise of his team with a fiery and fearlessly independent spirit that has made his sideline celebrations legendary. He retains the passion of his players and charges them up like no other.
PJ Ladd began skating in Boston at a young age, making use of his surroundings to practice his craft. He would hide from the harsh winter conditions by building obstacles inside his father's auto parts store.
Gaining worldwide notoriety with a series of videos for his local skate store Coliseum, he eventually relocated to Los Angeles, California, where the weather was kinder but the traffic an entirely different challenge. Known particularly for his unique blend of technical flatland and ledge skating, PJ continues to innovate daily, finding victory in every new combination of trick and spot.
Josh Ocean doesn't box himself into one musical or artistic territory. This desire to be free of industry conventions led him to create NVDES, a multi-genre musical collective.
NVDES creates works of art under the idea of controlled chaos, enjoying the randomness of moments and later putting those together to create songs, videos and other pieces of art.
Never allowing himself to be categorized, and pushing against the boundaries of genre, Josh and his friends stay true to their spirit of independence and fight convention at every note.
New Balance has been Fearlessly Independent since 1906. Our commitment to quality and craftsmanship is unwavering. We don't answer to anyone but our customers. And we won't back down, despite incredible obstacles.
We don't want to be the biggest. We want to be the best.
We do it our own way, and we declare that's the only way we'll ever do it.