For the second straight year, SidelineSwap is making good on it’s company mission to increase accessibility to sports.

The athletic apparel resale company is handing out six $500 scholarships to student athletes to purchase gear for their upcoming season as part of their second annual Gear for a Year Scholarships.

“It’s something we’ve always wanted to do,” SidelineSwap CEO Brendan Candon said of the program. “The goal of SidelineSwap is to make sports more affordable. We do that by giving people access to high quality used gear. Most people get 50 percent off the gear, but there are plenty of people out there that that still isn’t enough.”

Sideline Swap was founded in 2012 as an online marketplace for athletes to buy and sell sports gear, allowing aspiring athletes to purchase high-end equipment for expensive sports like lacrosse, golf and hockey at steep discounts. The scholarship program allows them to further expand accessibility.

Scholarship winners will be chosen based on a 1,000-word essay outlining the impact sports has had on their lives and the how the scholarship would mean for their upcoming season. The essays – which are being accepted until Feb. 1 at – will be judged by six individuals from professional sports, sports business and nonprofits. Six winners will be announced March 1.

As of Jan. 18 SidelineSwap was on pace to receive more than the 500 applicants they judged last year, Candon said. The CEO expects them to be of similar quality.

“What was interesting to me is some [2017 essays] were focused on the competitive element and getting a scholarship, but you also had the vast majority of the applicants talking about playing sports because they wanted to be a part of a team, challenge themselves, they wanted to get in better shape,” Candon said. “It was such a great reminder on the broad, positive impact sports have. We took all of that into consideration. The majority of it was about the non-competitive, positive impact sports was having.”

Last year’s winners ranged in age from 12 to 19. Four played lacrosse with one hockey player and one softball player being awarded the scholarship.

Those sports are some of the most expensive to play. According to a Utah State Survey, Lacrosse costs an average of $7,956 per year with hockey costing $7,013 and baseball/softball checking in at $4,044 annually.

As was the case last year, the six 2018 winners will be encouraged to spend their $500 scholarship on SidelineSwap, but if some equipment that they need is not available on the site the money can be used elsewhere.

“It made a huge difference in my season,” softball player and 2017 winner Briana Johnson said in a press release. “Softball is something that really keeps me going and I can’t imagine what my life would be without it. I’ve had to pick up a part-time job to help pay for my car, insurance and gas in addition to club and gear costs for softball. This scholarship helped ease some of that financial pressure.”

Considering the financial burden that sports can have – and the fact that much of the equipment on SidelineSwap is as much as 50 percent of the retail value – the $500 scholarships can go a long way for the six winners.

Candon hopes it’s just the start.

“It’s something that we always wanted to do and something we wanted to do a lot more of as the company grows,” the CEO said. “Last year was the first year it was financially viable. We’d love to grow this as the company grows and look for other opportunities like this.”