INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Colts games are a Sunday ritual for thousands of Hoosiers. No one knows that better than Kalen Irsay-Jackson, the youngest daughter of owner Jim Irsay.
Her official title is Vice Chair/Owner of the Colts. But her number one responsibility is knowing how to connect with Colts fans.
“We’re continually listening to our fans. And we want to hear more about what’s important to them,” said Irsay-Jackson.
From the sidelines of the games, to running the switchboard at the team headquarters, and now being responsible for marketing, sponsorship and ticketing, Kalen, like her two sisters, has learned the football business from the ground up.
“There are little moments that I think of now. I didn’t realize how big a deal that it was that I was in the room. The discussions about who we’re going to draft, whether it was Peyton Manning or anybody. We were in the room and our dad would talk to us about it,” said Irsay-Jackson.
All those lessons on and off the field are now being used to help football fans and the community she's come to call home.
The Irsay family knows there’s a bond that’s created when a community backs its football team, an identity that reflects the values of both team and town. The Irsays take that bond seriously.
“It’s truly just representing what we feel is being a Hoosier,” said Irsay-Jackson. “Like I said, they know how to rally around a cause, they are passionate and caring and humble and hardworking and really that’s what we want to be. We want to represent what our fans are and we want them to be proud of their team.”
All of Indiana remembers when the Irsay family arrived in Mayflower vans in the middle of the night in the mid-1980s. The city rolled out the red carpet to accept the Colts franchise and their new owners.
“Our fans and everyone from the state of Indiana and the city of Indianapolis have been so positive and welcoming to us since we came in 1984. They’ve never looked back. They’ve always been on our side and been so supportive. So when we look at that, it only gets stronger every year.”
Kalen and her family continue to stay connected to the Hoosier community, giving both time and money to some very deserving causes and organizations.
For example, the Irsays have helped student athletes at Kalen’s alma mater, Indiana University. They also helped to purchase 26,000 sleep sacks for babies born at IU health and donated funds to the YMCA.
“I think it fits in line perfectly with our importance on health and fitness and wellness,” said Irsay-Jackson.
That’s not all. Jim Irsay has also given to the victims of the tornadoes in Kokomo and to the reward fund for the two Delphi teens killed this past February in Carroll County.
“One of my dad’s focuses is instant need. He sees it and he wants to be there. He wants the horseshoe to be present. He wants the players to be there, volunteering and helping clean up. He wants our team to be those types of people and be those role models that our fans can be proud of, that our kids want to be like.”
Kalen is about to become a mother herself. She’s having a little girl, due right around Labor Day. That little girl, like Kalen and her two sisters, will grow up steeped in Colts football.
“I’ve been very lucky. I’ve had a somewhat easy pregnancy and I’ve been feeling great. It’s really a blessing. One having a very supportive husband, in the industry I’m in and the level, executive level I’m in. Obviously I’m busy and it’s only going to get busier.”