Blog Barista: Isabella Forsthoffer | February 18, 2022 | Community | Brew time: 5 min

Nothing goes together better than college basketball and custom software, right?

Starting as a marketing coordinator at KL&A this past December, I jumped right in on our partnership with Oakland University (OU) by helping on set of our company’s first ever commercial shoot which would be aired during OU basketball games – talk about a first day on the job!

In between calls of “Action!” from the director and maneuvering an unfamiliar office filled with cameras, lights, and desks decorated from a time before work from home, I listened to the condensed version of how KL&A became the Official IT Partner of Oakland University Athletics. Coworkers jumped in with stories of John Leigh, KL&A’s co-founder, with whom this partnership started.

As I’ve settled into my position here and learned new bits and pieces about John’s history with Oakland University, I finally took the opportunity to sit down with John and get the full story.

The Starting Lineup

It all started about 20 years ago after John and his wife, Elaine, had just moved to Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. John received a brochure advertising OU basketball season tickets in the mail that was addressed to the previous homeowner. Although John was mostly unfamiliar with the school, he decided to attend a game with his son since they’re both long-time basketball fans and it was close to their new home. After which, attendance progressed into something that would quickly involve the grandkids, his wife and more family until he ultimately became an annual season ticket holder of nine seats.

“As I look over the 20-year relationship with Oakland Athletics, I have great memories,” said John, as he reflected on all the time spent at sporting events. “My family has great memories, my grandkids have great memories – all associated with Oakland University.”

With no alumni roots or personal connections, that random brochure gave way to much more than just another OU fan in the crowd. Four of John’s grandchildren have since grown up to now attend Oakland, with his granddaughter Maddi performing for their track and field team.

Looking Back, Giving Back

As John’s involvement with Oakland University grew so did the giving relationship, starting small with donations and hitting a turning point as he personally got to know the coaches and staff in the athletic department. He explained how he and his wife, Elaine, share the same values and recognize the importance of giving back. Their donations and contributions came with no strings or obligations attached. And what they’ve given, John feels has been returned to him and his family in the form of a lifetime of memories associated with Oakland University. John reminisced how he and Elaine were trackside at many events to cheer on the OU athletes, each memory filled with laughter and joy.

When Elaine passed away, John recalled how many of the track and field team students, coaches, athletic director and university staff showed up at her wake to pay their respects. Shortly thereafter, Oakland University renamed their track and field facility to the Elaine Leigh Track and Field Complex to honor the late Oakland athletics fan and commemorate John Leigh’s contributions.

John’s taken his support even further, not only supporting OU athletics but the individual athletes as well. One student basketball player, Jalen Moore, has grown his relationship with John Leigh into a formal sponsorship. As a business owner and one of the founders of KL&A, John offers his advice and guidance as Jalen navigates life off the court.

So it came as no surprise to anyone, except John, when he was honored with this year’s Community Service Award from Oakland University and inducted into the Hollie L. Lepley Hall of Honor.

“Across multiple decades and multiple sports, John Leigh’s significant support and contributions to OU Athletics has enhanced the student-athlete experience for hundreds of OU student-athletes, positioning them for even great success academically, athletically, and personally. John’s service to the OU community and beyond makes him a most deserved recipient of the Community Service Award,” Director of Athletics Steve Waterfield said. 

Back To The Future

After learning about John’s long history with OU Athletics, the student-athletes, and his personal values of family and giving back, it became clear to me how KL&A fit into this ever-growing relationship. John brought KL&A and Oakland University Athletics together to further extend his OU family, sharing his love of the sport, the inspiring spirit of the Golden Grizzlies, and the opportunity to foster new relationships and achieve great things together. 

As KL&A looks toward the future and everything that’s been accomplished together so far, everyone is excited to see this partnership grow. We’ve got big plans to continue supporting each other, the students, and the communities surrounding Oakland University and KL&A. For myself especially, this partnership with OU will always be a core memory of starting at KL&A and I can’t wait to be a part of what’s next.

“The Oakland University Athletics department has been incredible to work with,” John concluded. “They’re a highly professional and family-oriented university which makes this the ideal partnership.”

So yeah, I’d say KL&A and Oakland University Athletics go together better than anything.

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