Friday, March 19, 2010

Fields of Dreams

In the Field of Dreams movie, the actor Kevin Costner plays Ray Kinsella and hears a voice in his corn field that says, “If you build it, he will come.” As most of us know, the “he” turns out to be his dad and the field is built to allow the two to mend their broken relationship over a game of catch in the outfield. Ghost players from the Chicago Black sox also get a chance to reunite and play. Ray’s dream became reality.

When it comes to the declining number of African-Americans in baseball, the solution to the problem has been to build/renovate fields and purchase expensive equipment. So what happens after you buy all this stuff? Don’t get me wrong, doing these things is needed but they are only incidental to the problem. Remember the movie? If you build it, they will come. But the question is-- why don’t they stay? They don’t stay because there aren’t enough programs. Not just any programs, but programs that help inner city players connect the diamond to their everyday lives.

I have trained baseball players as a professional for over 11 years. Whether it be top players at the major league level or inner city youth without baseball experience – I’ve trained them. As a professional, every young man that I train develops sound baseball skills because of the instruction that I provide. Remember the saying, information is power? Well as it turns out, it’s true. What I do as a professional baseball instructor is no different than what dedicated, professional teachers do every day in the classroom. We provide valuable information that makes things like bats and gloves and science and technology make sense.

This is why I started L.E.A.D. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct), a 501c3 non-profit that approaches the development of inner city baseball talent with an innovative methodology that begins with an actual curriculum for our year round program. It’s important for me to know that the information my staff shares with our Leaders is understood before we can expect to see a change in their baseball ability. In life, in order to see progress, you have to become part of a process. We lay the process out for our Leaders to see so all they have to do is follow. Just like Coke has a secret formula, L.E.A.D. does to. That secret formula has allowed 75% of Ambassadors to earn college baseball scholarship opportunities and 100% of our Ambassadors have gone to college.

I have a suggestion. Try building a state of the art school maxed out with new textbooks, Mac computers and science labs and leave teachers out of the equation. Are the kids going to get smarter by osmosis? Just having those tools isn’t enough. You’ve got to provide the professional teachers who show them how to use the Mac books and help them understand the concepts in the text. By the same token, new bats, gloves and fields are great, but if you don’t invest in instruction it’s all for not. So if you build it, they will definitely come. Just make sure you give them a reason to stay.

L.E.A.D. does.


  1. This is great stuff CJ. There is no doubt you are doing great things for these kids and its just a matter of time before High Point University locks a few down on scholarship to play baseball for us. It would be great for our program to get some kids that have been through the LEAD program. They would have a head start on the process of being a man off the field, and the tools to be an All-American on the field. We can't wait. Keep up the good work.
    Bryan Peters
    Asst Coach
    High Point University

  2. C.J. - You did a great job on this article! Keep 'em coming! You & Kelli have done wonderful things for the kids of Atlanta. Love getting the newsletter, interviews, videos, etc. One question. How is it that you & Kelli don't age? You look the same, if not better than you did 10 years ago! Point me to that fountain! Thanks for all you 2 do!
    Mary Rich
    Baseball Mom

  3. Your God given process obviously works well, CJ. And now you are taking it to a new level with your partnership with the Braves and FCA. I have no doubt that Atlanta will benefit from this. Your kids will grow into mature young men and inspire those around them. God is using you in a special way, Kelli as well. Keep on keeping on. God bless.

    Steve Painter

  4. Great post Coach CJ, I'm thankful to be apart of your organization. And I would like for you to know, that you are a very positive person in my life on and off the baseball field. You have proven that you really are very passionate about your program and your students. We are happy to be apart of your field of dreams and we will keep coming as you build the program. You are a great mentor, that will be apart of my success. Together we are building a village of talented and wise young ball players. Thank You!

  5. Fantastic first blog CJ - please keep them coming. My son has gained so much knowledge about baseball and life from his sessions with you. I'm extremely impressed by your ability to get the kids to understand and communicate why they have been told for years to do something on the field but were never provided the reasons. No other coach has taken that approach. You have been an excellent mentor/coach/counselor for my son and for all the other kids that have been blessed with your instruction.

    Your and Kelli's involvement with the LEAD organization that you founded is tremendous. It demonstrates your willingness to give back and make a lasting impact on the lives of youth.

    In response to your comments above on not only building a field of dreams but in addition providing the leadership and instruction for kids so that baseball stays in their life forever hits the nail on the head. My lasting memories come from the lessons provided by former teachers, pastors and coaches. I remember very little about the classrooms or fields that I played or the equipment that I was provided.

    Keep up your excellent work!