The Vince Lombardi Trophy is the ultimate prize for the winning football team at each year’s Super Bowl. It is the culmination of everything exhausting and awesome about that year, and the average sports fan can only dream of coming near one of their own.
That’s what Dave Mitri is for.
Dave Mitri is the Michelangelo of fantasy sports. The Ohio native began using his art skills to sculpt trophies for fantasy sports leagues in 1993, while still studying art at Kent State University. Since then, he has given fervent competitors the world over high quality trophies – and extra trash-talking rights.
“This adds a different level of excitement to fantasy leagues,” Mitri said. “It’s one thing to win a fantasy league, but it’s another to get the trophy for it.”
Mitri’s website, FantasyTrophies.com, started humbly. After winning his first fantasy football league title while in college, Mitri searched for a trophy to pass on to his league’s winner from year to year, but nothing seemed appropriate. “They were all typical, something you’d get for a pee-wee football league,” he explained.
So instead, he took matters into his own hands and decided to put his art skills to work. Using his brother-in-law as a model, and his parent’s garage as a production facility, Mitri crafted his signature “Armchair Quarterback” trophy.
In the years since making that first trophy, Mitri’s operations have expanded. He began selling his ware online in 1997, and since then he’s shipped across the U.S., to Canada, Mexico, and even Australia. Now he also makes baseball, basketball, NASCAR, and hockey trophies.
He moved trophy production out of his parent’s garage and to New York shortly after moving here in 2001. Now a father of two living and working in Park Slope – his wife is kid-friendly musician Suzi Shelton – Mitri continues flexing his creative muscles. He still ensures that every single trophy ordered is painstakingly made by hand, from start to finish.
The trophy-making process begins with making a clay sculpture. He then casts it, fills the mold with plaster and then coats it in bronze-flake infused paint. “Each and every one of them is hand-sculpted, hand-poured, and hand-painted,” he said. The solid oak bases are also hand cut by Mitri, who also engraves commemorative nameplates to attach to the bases.
“They’re paying a decent mount for it, but when guys realize how there made and how they feels, they’re always happy,” he said.
To look at previous trophies and order your own, visit www.FantasyTrophies.com. Also visit their Facebook page to keep an eye out for regular contests that give you a chance to win a free Mini or Ultimate Loser Trophy!