Tuesday, December 27, 2011

If I can do these 3 things in 2012, I...

It's that time again to set new goals for a new year. 2011 was good to me but improvement has never killed anybody. 

In 2012, I want to become more patient, more consistent and execute at a higher rate. 

I wouldn't call myself a perfectionist but I do like for things to be done with excellence.  I have high standards because of exposure that I have received in my life time.  I have to remind myself that I'm a long way from being considered as the gold standard of human beings on Earth. With patience, we can all become great. Thank God for my family members and friends for being patient with me. In the most loving way possible, I ask that you remind me when I lack patience.

Being good at something means that you can do it it once and maybe even a few times. To be great is to be consistent meaning you do good things most of the time. My intentions are good but laziness and not being aware causes me to be inconsistent. I want to be a great husband, father, son, leader, friend, mentor and more. To be more consistent in 2012 would be amazing. 

I'm a visionary and I love it. My mind races all day and all night with ideas. I'm convinced that I have come up with several million dollar ideas in my lifetime but my bank account doesn't reflect it because of lack of execution. Execution requires patience and consistency. 

Father God, help me to be a good steward of the time and talents that you have blessed me with. Allow me to receive the blessings provided by my family and friends. Remind me that everything that I do must be done for your glory. All these things that I ask in your son Jesus Christ name. Amen. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

You are the best gift to L.E.A.D.

I'm biased but I think that Atlanta is the best city in America. So much history and so much innovation. We are an international city that sets many trends.

We have gotten away from something that we were once known for. Did you know that several influential men wanted a baseball team in Atlanta so bad that they went to Milwaukee and purchased the Braves before we even had a stadium. Did you know that Aaron's Rents founder Charlie Loudermilk provided chairs and tents to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movements. Charlie jeopardized the success of his business for another Atlantan despite him being black.

These are two classic examples of the "Atlanta Way".  L.E.A.D. was created with the "Atlanta Way" in mind. My blessings are your blessings.

L.E.A.D. is a year round youth development organization that uses baseball to provide access to college for inner city Atlanta males. We serve over 180 student-athletes annually with four signature programs. Since 2007, 100% of our Ambassadors graduate from high school and enroll in college while 89% of them enroll with a baseball scholarship. As an organization, we complete over 2,200 community service hours annually.

With Christmas right around the corner, I have a gift request to ask of you for the Ambassadors. Click here to "Like" us on Facebook and "Follow" us on Twitter.  It is only through continuous prayers and community support that L.E.A.D. will continue to thrive.

We are Atlanta and there is a need for L.E.A.D. L.E.A.D. is more than me. L.E.A.D. is also you. L.E.A.D. is we and we are Atlantans.

Click here to enjoy our newly designed L.E.A.D. website and we look forward to serving with you in 2012. It's the "Atlanta Way".

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

APS hit a homerun for its student-athletes

As an 8-year-old African-American male living in Atlanta, GA, I dreamed of playing professional baseball with the Chicago Cubs and becoming a "businessman" as my back up plan.

Over the years, I've had hundreds of people pour into me to make my dreams a reality; I did play for the Chicago Cubs and I am a successful business owner and philanthropist.

Thank God for my mom and dad and my family. Thank God for the Atlanta Public School System (APS) and all of my Grove Park Elementary School teachers. Thank God for the patience of my first baseball coach Emmett Johnson who still serves on the APS School Board. Thank God for  my wife, daughters, all of my coaches, teachers, principals, mentors and friends. Without you, success for me still would have remained a dream.

Yesterday evening, I along with several of my L.E.A.D. Ambassadors and their family were recognized and honored by the Atlanta Public School Superintendent Erroll Davis as well as the APS Board of Education. The room was packed and they gave us a standing ovation for our continued commitment to excellence. Since 2007, 100% of my Ambassadors have graduated from high school and enrolled in college while 89% of my Ambassadors have enrolled in college with a baseball scholarship.

Standing behind my Ambassadors last night was a strong woman who has supported L.E.A.D. from the start. APS School Board Chairwoman Brenda Muhammad has been our #1 fan because of her passion for excellence in academics, athletics and community engagement.  Her expectations are high and we aim to please.

It was so fitting for me to shake the hand of my first baseball coach Emmett Johnson last night as we were being honored. Maybe he knew all along that I wanted to become a leader and a change agent throughout the country. It just goes to show the positive influence that coaches have on youth. Mentorship matters.

I had to smile and laugh as I was being recognized to keep me from crying tears of joy. Often times, men go without recognition in their own hometown. I strive for excellence everyday while I'm on this Earth because I believe that God has given me a gift. It is also my civic duty to do so.

On behalf of L.E.A.D., I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to APS Superintendent Erroll Davis, APS Chairwoman Brenda Muhammad and the APS School Board for the special recognition. Like me, my Ambassadors have a sense of belonging and investment to the city of Atlanta so we will continue to represent you well.

APS worked for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It worked for me and it works for my Ambassadors. APS works for Atlanta.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

We are more than bats and balls y'all

Our L.E.A.D. Ambassadors have been selected and the real work has begun.

In our fall Legacy League program, a few Ambassadors expressed some academic struggles that they were experiencing during our daily group reflection time. I am pleased that their grades have improved and met my expectations. Believe it or not, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. received a C in a public speaking class while in college.  Like baseball, life is all about making adjustments in order to be successful.

We still have a few disciplinary issues that require attention. As an adult, I am still working hard to learn how to properly express myself. Often times, young adults act out at school and home because they lack sound communication skills. We are looking forward to working with Drew Sisselman on December 18.

We've toured the Jimmy Carter Center thanks to my fellow Atlanta West End Rotarian Don Schewe. Exposure is a pillar of excellence for L.E.A.D. and something that we don't take for granted. As a kid, exposure gave me a sense of belonging and involvement in the great city of Atlanta. We will be welcomed as guest at WSB-TV as well as the Center of Disease and Control (CDC) in the new year.

The Ambassadors continue to raise funds to support individuals and other organizations in need through our annual Dollar Drive. We are donating $200.00 to support Amy Hosier and her family. Amy is a former Georgia Tech All-American that was recently diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. We know that money alone won't solve the problem and we want Amy and her family to know that we are here to go to bat with her. Click here to go to bat with Amy.

As you can see, we stay busy even when it is too cold to get on the baseball field. We will have our first practice this Saturday at my Diamond Directors indoor training facility. I get excited when I see the Ambassadors. They are committed to my vision and I am committed to theirs.  A perfect partnership.

On behalf of the Ambassadors and the entire L.E.A.D. family, we want to thank you for your continued support and partnership. Our newly designed website will launch soon and provide many ways that you can continue to support us as we continue to graduate our students-athletes from high school and ensure that they enroll in college.

Since 2007, 100% of our L.E.A.D. Ambassadors have graduated from high school and enrolled in college while 89% of them have enrolled with a baseball scholarship. We serve over 180 elementary, middle and high school student-athletes per year.

This impact is intentional! Join us at Lead2Legacy.org.

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's more than just a day now

My plan was to write this blog last night but my mind and body was exhausted from the Dinner with Champions experience at Turner Field's 755 Club. I woke up this morning with my endorphins firing and had to put pen to paper.

Atlanta rallied behind L.E.A.D. in a major way last night. The program started with two great emcees, Sandra Golden and Chuck Dowdle of 680 The Fan. The crowd was welcomed by 2011 Jr. Ambassador Ryan Martin who attends B.E.S.T. Academy. I was moved by his words as he spoke about the impact that L.E.A.D. has on his life. Currently, 34% of Atlanta Public Schools African-American males graduate from high school. As a proud former APS student (Grove Park Elementary School), I know that the school system works but there are so many challenges within inner city Atlanta communities that makes it difficult to reach success.  Thus the need for us as mentors to go to bat for inner city males everyday. We serve with dignity and love.

Jacarri Allen who attends John F. Kennedy Middle School spoke about the impact that L.E.A.D. has made in his life. I appreciated him being authentic. He told the audience that he came to L.E.A.D. with poor grades and a bad attitude and 10 months later, his grades continue to suffer. Jacarri is a brilliant kid who is in a transitional phase of his life. He will graduate from high school and enroll in college but it is going to take the support of the Atlanta community to make it possible. When Jacarri shines, America shines.

I am so ready to move mountains after hearing our keynote speaker John Hope Bryant last night. If we really want to make America better, we must invest in our youth. John made it clear to us all last night that it is a mistake to give up on individuals that are in transition in their life. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. received a C grade in public speaking while in seminary school. Steve Jobs struggled to make good grades. Our lives are all better today because of contributions to the world by these two powerful men. Thank you John Hope Bryant for answering L.E.A.D.'s call and providing hope to America everyday. I told John at the end of the evening that I am thankful that he wrote his book LOVE LEADERSHIP because it is difficult to take it all in when he is speaking. Dynamic!

Yesterday was a special day for L.E.A.D. to say the least. Thanks to Rendell Jackson, Atlanta Public Schools Office of Athletics and Michael Julian Bond, Atlanta City Councilman, Post 1 At Large, November 20th will always be recognized as C.J. Stewart Day and L.E.A.D. Day in Atlanta, GA. Wow! I have tears of joy again as I write this. This recognition means so much to me. Atlanta has been good to my family for generations. I am Atlanta because I serve.  I am Atlanta because I lead.  We are Atlanta because we RISE UP!

Special awards were presented to our Legacy Builders Michael J. Russell (HJ Russell & Company) and Sam Bacote.  Our Community Partners are Victor Menocal (Excel Sports Management), Chuck Dowdle (680 The Fan), Walter C. Thomas (Thomas Barber Shop), Kathy Brandt (Rotary International), Lincoln Martin (former Houston Astros scout) and Tom Hughes (Hope Beckham PR).

The upcoming year is going to be full of excitement and many more families will be impacted. Communities will be changed because of the support of Atlanta.  We are a great city! Let's all commit to increasing the high school graduation rate of African-American males from APS schools. L.E.A.D. has successfully graduated 100% of our Ambassadors from high school and they all have enrolled in college while 89% have enrolled with a baseball scholarship. There are thousands of young men in this city who need us. Click here to join us as we L.E.A.D. Today and Change Tomorrow!

Special thanks to my beautiful wife Kelli Stewart and my amazing daughters Mackenzi and Mackenna.  Special thanks to our L.E.A.D. Weekend sponsors Atlanta Braves, Georgia's Own Credit Union, Aramark and 680 The Fan.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

We were all CELEBRITIES today

We couldn’t have ordered better weather for our 5th Annual L.E.A.D. Celebrity Baseball Clinic at Turner Field.  We had 60 clinic participants that had the time of their life.

Kelli, Mackenna and I arrived at Turner Field at 6:30AM knowing that today was going to be a great day because it has to be that way when Mary Jo Walker is involved.

For the first year, Kelli and I were able to relax and enjoy the clinic experience. D.J. Huyck, Ben Wolosick and Steve White handled the on field experience like champions.  Dexter Fowler, Bobby Scales, Jon Mark Owings, Chris Epps and Travis Witherspoon had the kids swinging the bat with power from the Turner Field batting box.  The kids were able to roam the outfield grass with Jason Heyward and Telvin Nash.  Jemile Weeks and Tony Plagman taught them how to flash the leather in the infield dirt while Micah Owings and Jamel Mann showed the tools of the trade from the pitcher’s mound.  Barbara Greene proved that baseball is 90% mental in her mental game of baseball workshop.  Special thanks to all of the Kennesaw State University baseball players in attendance.

Doug Melton, ATS Graphics hung out with me for the VIP experience.  He provided over 100 complimentary clinic t-shirts for all of the participants.  We all remained refreshed with Blue-04 water.  These were definitely homeruns for L.E.A.D.! Thank ya Kaisha Weeks!

Our annual Celebrity Clinic truly allows L.E.A.D. to connect communities throughout Atlanta.  Serving others is the "Atlanta Way" and I’m so glad that we were allowed to L.E.A.D. the way!

Tomorrow is our 2nd Annual Dinner with Champions Awards Ceremony at Turner Field’s 755 Club.  Angie Chesin and Mary Jo Walker are on deck but they are batting 1.000 so I’m not worried.  Our keynote speaker is John Hope Bryant.  Talk about a dynamic speaker.

We will be officially announcing the 2012 L.E.A.D. Ambassadors as well as the 2011 Jason Heyward Award recipient.  There are over 300 guest confirmed with a few tickets remaining.  Click here to purchase your tickets.  You don’t want to miss this.  Our Legacy Builder recipients are Michael Russell (H.J. Russell & Company) and Sam Bacote.  Community Awards will be presented to Victor Menocal (Excel Sports Management), Tom Hughes (Hope Beckham PR), Kathy Brandt (Rotary District 6900 Assistant Governor), Tommy Thomas (Thomas Barber Shop), Lincoln Martin (former Houston Astros scout) and Chuck Dowdle (680 The Fan). 

Special thanks to the Atlanta Braves, Georgia's Own Credit UnionAramark and 680 The Fan for sponsoring L.E.A.D. Weekend!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What it means to be Georgia's Own

I'm Georgia's Own and that means that I have a responsibility to serve others in my state the same way that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did.

I'm Georgia's Own and that means that I must learn from the success of other communities and bring the good news and practices to the pecan state as Ambassador Andrew Young does.

I'm proud to be Georgia's Own along with my youth development organization L.E.A.D. L.E.A.D. successfully uses baseball to allow inner city Atlanta males to access college. Yesterday, Georgia's Own Credit Union raised over $28,000 for L.E.A.D. in it's annual golf tournament. This donation will allow L.E.A.D. to keep over 10 inner city males on track to graduate from high school and attend college.  L.E.A.D. is a year round organization that serves over 180 middle and high school age males from the Atlanta Public School System.  Our four pillars of excellence are athletics, academics, service and exposure.

The state of Georgia currently graduates 45% of African-American males from high school. Since 2007, L.E.A.D. has graduated 100% of our Ambassadors and they all have enrolled into college while 89% have enrolled in college with a baseball scholarship. We are transforming inner city communities with year round programs that are measured for success.

Our young men have a future and Georgia's Own Credit Union is helping them own it. Special thanks to Dave Preter, Georgia's Own/CEO, Julee Brunson, Georgia's Own; Vivian English, Georgia's Own; and Ted Wood, Morgan Stanley.

We are counting on the Atlanta community to continue to support L.E.A.D.  Click here to purchase your tickets for L.E.A.D. Weekend 2011 at Turner Field Saturday, November 19-20.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What are we doing?

The Legacy League is winding down. Twenty middle school and forty high school student-athletes continue to work hard to develop their baseball and leadership skills.

Our 3-month program provides a service opportunity each month, exposure to over five corporate industries and thousands of repetitions under the watchful eye of professionals.

One of the main purposes of the Legacy League is to help me identify the L.E.A.D. Ambassadors. We choose 20 Ambassadors that represent the best of L.E.A.D. from the 40 high school participants. The Ambassadors will be officially announced at L.E.A.D.'s 2nd Annual Dinner with Champions Awards Celebration. They will continue with their development with me through the summer.

Since 2007, 100% of my Ambassadors have graduated from high school and enrolled in college which 89% of them have enrolled with a baseball scholarship. Why commit to L.E.A.D.?  Because we use baseball to launch educational opportunities.

I can do so much more with your support. Join us during L.E.A.D. Weekend 2011.  Click here to learn more.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Legacy League Opening Day the Omega Psi Phi Way

Saturday was a perfect day for four reasons.

1. I was able to spend time with my beautiful wife and daughters.
2. We had perfect weather in Atlanta.
3. It was L.E.A.D.'s Legacy League Annual Opening Day Ceremony.
4. The Omega Psi Phi fraternity was at Perkerson Park celebrating with us thanks to Rendell Jackson.

The ceremony started with introductions from over 30 Omega's at the pitchers mound.  Each fraternity brother shared the college that they graduated from along with the degree and their current career field.  That was powerful for our young Leaders to witness.

Coach Kelli later introduced our 60 Legacy League Leaders to the crowd.  They received high 5's from the Omega's and lined up on the foul line.  Coach Kelli had everybody's attention with her powerful voice as she sang the National Anthem.

A long day of games began with our two middle school teams competing against each other followed by intra-squad games for our high school division.  We finished the day of games before darkness hit with our Legacy League Prospect Team hosting the East Cobb Saints.  DJ Cosmo kept everybody energized with music from Jay-Z and a bunch of old school.

Opening Day is always fun!  I remember how I felt as a kid on Opening Day at CYO (Cascade Youth Organization).  Lots of people, cheers, food and music.

Baseball is a big deal again in the inner city again.  If my vision is right for L.E.A.D., we will play a major role in repopulating African Americans in baseball at the collegiate and major league levels.  We can do so much more with your help.  Click here and help us L.E.A.D. Today and Change Tomorrow!

One of Georgia's best

We all strive to be the best and on Thursday evening, Georgia Trend Magazine recognized me and 39 of my colleagues as Georgia's best and brightest.  We are Georgia Trend's top 40 under 40.  Click here to learn more.

My good friend and L.E.A.D. advisory board member Steve White told me not to deflect the recognition from this award as I normally do.  Being humble is a characteristic that I am proud of but tonight was a night that allowed L.E.A.D. to shine.

With the support of my family, close friends, my board and advisory board members, we continue to launch educational opportunities for inner city males.  We continue to use baseball to provide access to college for 100% of my Ambassadors.

I walked up to receive a beautiful award for the over 200 inner city males that L.E.A.D. will impact for 2011-12.  With God as the head of my life, I will continue to lead the way for some amazing young men and families.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


This evening, my beloved city Atlanta paid tribute to a living legend, R. Charles "Charlie" Loudermilk Sr.

Charlie Loudermilk borrowed $500 in the 50's to start Aaron's Rent and today he is partly responsible for Atlanta being a revered city.

Today was undoubtedly a special day for a special man. How could I be anywhere else but in that room? Myself and my L.E.A.D. Ambassador Wesley Clement shared the same space with so many great men that have spent decades giving of themselves and empowering others.

Officially, Mr. Loudermilk was being honored by the Council for Quality Growth as a recipient of their annual Four Pillar Tribute.

Mr. John Schuerholz, President of the Atlanta Braves paid tribute to Mr. Loudermilk with the pillar of QUALITY. Know body in their right mind will argue that Mr. Loudermilk exemplifies the meaning of quality.

Mr. Herman J. Russell, Chairman of H.J. Russell and Company delivered a heartfelt tribute with the pillar of RESPONSIBILITY. I am personally reminded of the responsibility that I have to next generation of leadership in my city.

Mr. John C. Portman, Chairman of Portman Companies made a statement about the third pillar of VISION that I will never forget. "Self doubt is the death to vision." Almighty God has me on this earth for a reason and I will not doubt his plan.

The integrity of a man is based on how he handles situations when nobody is looking. Ambassador Andrew Young made it clear to the crowd of hundreds that Mr. Loudermilk is a man of INTEGRITY.

Mr. Loudermilk is an icon and it became clear to me that I can also be iconic. I will make my time on earth meaningful. I will also have a rich legacy like Mr. Loudermilk. ICAN be ICONIC.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Development includes failure

This has been a great start to the fall Legacy League season.  Everything is going right as planned.  As a coaching staff, we came into the fall development season with a curriculum.  Now it is time to get dirty.

We began our first games of the Legacy League on Saturday, October 1st at the beautiful Perkerson Park with a 10:00AM Middle School Development League game and a 12:30PM High School Development League game.  We have two middle school development teams in the league as well as two high school development teams and one prospect team.

The middle school game included good pitching by Elijah Richardson (Sylvan Hills Middle School) and lots of strong bats.  All of our games are instructional based which allows us as a coaching staff to create offensive and defensive situations.  We really have to spend more time on 1st and 3rd defensive situations.  Team defense is new to a lot of our Leaders.  No problem, that's why the Legacy League was created.

The Legacy League is America's first fall instructional league that targets inner city middle and high school age males and provides baseball development for college baseball scholarships.

The high school development league showcased solid pitching by Marquese Sinkfield (Henry Grady High School). Rhandal Jackson (Benjamin E. Mays High School) was 2 for 3 and was the starting catcher for the Legacy League White Team.

The Legacy League Prospect Team lost 2-1 in a good game on Saturday to the East Cobb Patriots.  We scored lots of runs on Sunday against the Nelson Baseball School team but we also gave up quite a few.  Sunday's game ended with an 11-11 tie.  The Prospect Team received stellar pitching from Julian Phiffer on Saturday.  Julian "JuJu" is a right handed pitcher from Booker T. Washington High School and only threw 29 pitches in three innings.  Wesley Clement (Benjamin E. Mays High School) made great adjustments to his swing this weekend and got some key hits.

I'm looking forward to a great upcoming week of practice with our Leaders.  Development isn't always fun because development includes failure.  Funny how you can fail on a baseball field 70% of the time yet you are considered successful.  The reward for our success in the classroom and on the baseball diamond is a college baseball scholarship.

1, 2, 3, L.E.A.D.!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Call them GREAT

We are in the third week of the Legacy League fall instructional season. The first baseball games are this upcoming weekend. Several blogs have been posted by our Leaders recording their Legacy League experience. Coaches have developed life long relationships with young men and their family. Baseball skills have been developed that will provide access to college.

It is an honor to be the founder of L.E.A.D. because I play a major role in the future success of hundreds of inner city African-American middle and high school males every month throughout the entire year.

Our young men are called Leaders because that's what Atlanta needs them to be. L.E.A.D.'s four pillars of excellence are academics, athletics, service and exposure. We achieve success because we are available to our Leaders and our programming is consistent. They are assets to this city. They only lack a sense of belonging and investment to the city

I know that they aren't all great students. I know that some have disciplinary issues at the school. On this past Saturday, they were all called young men of greatness because they were able to serve.

L.E.A.D. has adopted Section 8 of the Atlanta BeltLine and our Leaders were responsible for maintaining it. For some, it was their first time being involved with service. Through their involvement with L.E.A.D., it won't be their last because we offer service to the city of Atlanta once per month every month throughout the year. Last year alone, we recorded over 2.200 hours of community service as an organization.

Atlanta's own Dr. Martin Luther King once said that everybody can be great because everybody can serve. Join our Leaders for October's day of service. Check us out at Lead2Legacy.org for our upcoming game/practice schedule, blogs, service projects, enrichment opportunities and more.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Time for a change

I'm often asked why the number of African Americans are declining in baseball at the college and professional levels. 

As a player development professional in the baseball industry, I'm expected to say it's because of a lack of professional player development resources. I'm obviously biased, but this is also very true. 

Parallel the baseball industry to education. What happens when you build the finest schools, equip them with the best state of the art resources money can buy and then open the doors and tell the children to have at it? No teachers, no professors; just lots of expensive stuff that looks good. 

What happens is this: less than 8% of African Americans competing at the professional levels and less than 6% at the college levels. 

It's time for a change in the way we approach this solution.

L.E.A.D. provides that change. Through curriculum based year round programming derived from a proven methodology, my organization has successfully provided inner city, African American youth with the professional player development resources necessary to compete for college baseball scholarships. You see, new equipment and uniforms are nice and they definitely play a role in the solution, but I don't value a bat, ball or jersey over my professional coaching staff. L.E.A.D.'s professional coaching staff is the knowledge source that helps our young men understand how to use the glove to field the ball properly, how to use the bat to bunt or hit opposite field and how to wear their uniforms properly and with pride. Those things can't transfer knowledge on their own. I mean, I have never seen a baseball glove explain to a player how to use it or a ball explain to a pitcher how to throw certain pitches. 

For over four years now, 100% of L.E.A.D.'s Ambassadors graduate from high school, enroll in college and 89% have received college baseball scholarship opportunities. And by the way, these young men also complete over 2,000 hours of community service annually.

From where we're standing...change is good.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

It's going down at 6:00PM today

Leadership is an action word. It is also a commitment that requires sacrifice. L.E.A.D. provides countless amount of leadership opportunities that we measure throughout the entire year.  As an organization, we easily record over 2,000 hours of community service annually since 2007.

Our student-athletes are required to participate in a service opportunity at least once per month every month throughout the year in order to remain eligible as a L.E.A.D. program participant. You can't be an effective leader if you aren't serving others.

Leadership is mentorship.  To date, 28 L.E.A.D. Ambassadors have graduated from our program and are currently enrolled in college. They are more than names in our history book. They remain engaged. In order for our young men to understand the road ahead, they must ask those coming back.

L.E.A.D. offers a pipeline for youth development that starts with elementary school and goes all the way to top to me. Our college alumni mentor the high school Leaders.  The high school Leaders mentor the middle school Leaders and the lives of Atlanta APS elementary students are enriched by our middle schoolers.  Leadership is an action word. It is also a commitment that requires sacrifice.

The "D" in L.E.A.D. reminds us as an organization to direct our student-athletes using the historical journey of past African-Americans as the roadmap. Is there a better city in America with such a rich legacy of leadership than Atlanta - the home of the Civil Rights Movement?

At 6:00PM today, I along with my wife Kelli Stewart will be officially introducing 60 Legacy middle and high school League Leaders to the city of Atlanta at the Atlanta Public Schools Main Office. These young men represent their families, the Atlanta Public School System and their community with great pride.

They will have the opportunity of a lifetime to develop this fall professionally both on the field and off. L.E.A.D.'s four pillars of excellence are Academics, Athletics, Service and Exposure. You can bet your last dollar that we are excellent!

I will follow up at 9:00PM after the ceremony.

I couldn't help but break down with tears when I gave the end remarks. To look out in the audience into the eyes of 60 student-athletes that have committed to my vision of L.E.A.D. was overwhelming.

We were joined by APS School Board President Brenda Muhammad, Atlanta Braves Director of Community Affairs Ericka Newsome-Hill, Georgia's Own Credit Union Business Development Manager Julee Brunson, Georgia's Own Credit Union's Vivian English, APS Athletic Director Jeff Beggs and APS Middle School Program Director Rendell Jackson.

Special thanks to our parents, board members, supporters, staff and of course our Legacy League Leaders for making this a memorable night.

Come join us for an upcoming practice, game, enrichment activity and/or service project. We are always looking for energetic members for our L.E.A.D. Tailgate Club. For more information, click here..

L.E.A.D. Today...Change Tomorrow!

Monday, September 12, 2011

We ready!

My parents are ready. My coaches are ready. My Leaders are ready. Let's go!

We are a little over three hours away from our first fall Legacy League practice. We consider every practice to be an event because we aim to provide a positive experience for everybody involved. 

Day 1 will consist of assessments according to my fall curriculum. I have developed some of the best baseball players in the major leagues by first assessing their strengths and weaknesses.  The assessment also holds our coaching staff accountable because we measure improvement throughout the fall and coaches are graded as well.

We have 60 middle and high school student-athletes that want to use baseball to access college. If the young men have made it this far in our application process, we owe them the best professional baseball development opportunity. 

Year round baseball is in the inner city of Atlanta. We ready!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Contrary to popular belief, baseball is an individual sport played in a team concept.  Since childhood, I have always heard that there is no "I" in team.  According to Webster's dictionary that is true but in order to have a successful team, each individual has a has to be at its best.

For the 2011 Legacy League fall season, we have adopted a theme that we hope will foster a winning culture for our Leaders both on and off the field.  Be...We...is the theme that I thought of that will serve as a reminder to over achieve to our Leaders, their parents, our coaching staff and supporters.

If I wake up every morning striving to be my best, we as an organization will be our best.  Students being enthused and respectful in the classroom will allow L.E.A.D. to send more student-athletes to college on scholarship.  Being on time and prepared for each practice will allow L.E.A.D. to win more games on the field.  Being willing to serve our community will allow our community to become all that we desire.  Being exposed to the best of Atlanta allows Atlanta to benefit from our investment in it.

The time is now!  If not now, when?  If not me, who?  Be your best and we will be our best!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

They deserve it

If something of value is provided, people will invest and support it. From 10AM-2PM today, families were interviewed for L.E.A.D. scholarships. Contrary to popular belief, African-American males love this game. They want to contribute to the legacy and tradition of the game.

Like tax season, there is a time of year when the media asks the infamous question, "where are the African-American baseball players?" That time of year isn't the fall because football owns the headlines.

In the inner city of Atlanta, L.E.A.D. has developed year round programming for middle and high school baseball players. These young men aren't playing for fun either. They develop under a proven curriculum, methodology and training process. L.E.A.D. scholarships lead to college scholarships.

L.E.A.D.'s fall Legacy League program is the answer for young men who want to use baseball to access college as well as developing a professional network for post college career opportunities.

Since 2007, 89% of my Ambassadors have enrolled in college with a baseball scholarship. We achieve success by offering programs with value. The young men that fulfill the requirements of L.E.A.D. will achieve.  When they achieve, Atlanta achieves.

They want it! They deserve it! So I give it!

Join L.E.A.D. at www.Lead2Legacy.org. L.E.A.D. Today...Change Tomorrow!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Rise up Atlanta, Build the Dream

The world is ready to see the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington, DC. Dr. King's legacy is still alive but we can do so much better here in Atlanta.

Dr. King didn't march so that Atlanta would have one of the nations highest crime rates.

Dr. King didn't speak to millions about hope so that his school district would graduate 34% of it's African American males from high school.

Dr. King didn't ignore death threats so that thousands of Atlantans would live at or below the poverty level.

Dr. King had a dream so that you and I could see the reality. My reality is that I'm able to be great because I can serve others. My reality is that I can be anything that my God wants me to be. It's not up to me. My reality is that talk is cheap and walking makes you weary but prayer, faith and courage creates icons. I want to be ICONIC.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How does L.E.A.D. spell Impact?

It is that time of year again when L.E.A.D. gets the opportunity to partner with 60 new families during our fall Legacy League program.  The Legacy League is America's first fall instructional league that focuses on the professional baseball development of inner city middle and high school baseball talent for the sole purpose of receiving college baseball scholarships.

Why are we considered professionals?  We are professionals because we instruct from a proven curriculum, patented process and comprehensive methodology developed by our founder C.J. Stewart, owner of Diamond Directors.

Since 2007, 100% of our L.E.A.D. Ambassadors have graduated from high school and enrolled in college while 89% of them have enrolled in college with a baseball scholarship.  Now that is Impact with a capital I!

We are very intentional when it comes down to making a difference in the lives of our young men.  Impact is more than a trending buzz word to us.  We measure our impact.  We want to be held accountable.  My coaches and I enjoy being mentors and the families that we serve are counting on us to help make attending college a reality.  If a young man goes to college, L.E.A.D. gets an A, if he doesn't we get an F.  Period.

Baseball is a fun and challenging sport that can teach so many life lessons.  I am a firm believer that baseball doesn't build character, it exposes it.  On Saturday, August 27th, I will look in the curious eyes of young men from Booker T. Washington High School.  I will shake the firm hands of young men from Joseph Emerson Brown Middle School.  I will stand proud before several families within the Atlanta Public School System assuring them that they are in the right place at the right time.

We are committed to continuing to Launch, Expose, Advise and Direct.  Atlanta is counting on us!

Check us out at Lead2Legacy.org.  We want you to join us!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Following Mendez: East Coast Professional Showcase Day 5

The East Coast Professional Showcase is over and Mendez (Henry W. Grady HS) and I fly back home on Delta.  This has been a great experience for Mendez and I.  This week, I watched him enhance his leadership and baseball skills.  He showed courage and perseverance.  He made adjustments everyday.  Felecia Calhoun has raised an awesome young man.

His success at this showcase has created new opportunities for young males in L.E.A.D. as well as the Atlanta Public School System.  APS baseball doesn't produce nationally ranked high school baseball players very often compared to Cobb and Gwinnett County because of a lack of financial resources.  Now there is a name that can be recognized among NCAA and MLB scouts with regards to APS baseball.

Mendez carried the hopes and dreams of little leaguers and grade school players on his back here in Florida this week.  APS baseball players will now get a much needed evaluation from college scouts.  It is now up to L.E.A.D. to continue to develop the baseball talent of inner city youth.  Mendez is an example of the player development curriculum that is used in our year round program.  Inner city youth want to play baseball in college and L.E.A.D. will continue to provide the resources and mentorship to make it happen.  Mendez is currently ranked as one of the top 300 high school players in America.

To date, 100% of our Ambassadors have graduated from high school and enrolled in college while 89% of them have received baseball scholarships.  This success rate is impressive when you consider the Atlanta Public School graduation rate of black males being 34%. L.E.A.D. is proud to partner with APS to change the culture and create new levels of success in the classroom and on the baseball field.

Special thanks to Barbara Greene (L.E.A.D. Advisory Board member), Crystal Giles (L.E.A.D. parent), Courtney Mata (Marriott) and Rick Winstel (Delta Airlines) for your help with making this a wonderful experience for Mendez.  Thank you to all of the L.E.A.D. supporters.  On behalf of the city of Atlanta and our partners, than you Mendez for being a great Ambassador!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Following Mendez: East Coast Professional Showcase Day 4

Today, I watched Mendez take the best rounds of batting practice that I have ever seen from him.  The swing was efficient and he repeated it like a polished professional hitter.  Unfortunately, he wasn't able to transfer it in the game because he wasn't in the line up.

I'm sure that he was disappointed to not see his name in the starting lineup.  Tough competitors always want to get on the field.  I was very impressed to see him with a smile on his face throughout the entire game hopeful that he will be able to showcase the same swing from today on tomorrow.

The talent here is incredible making it hard to believe that these are high school kids.  One of the Colorado Rockies pitchers topped at 99MPH.  I believe that Mendez would have gotten good wood on the ball though.

I'm really looking forward to tomorrow for Mendez.  He has worked hard for this moment.  Tomorrow is the last day at this showcase but he has gained a lot of experience here that will boost his development on and off the field.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Following Mendez: East Coast Professional Showcase Day 3

Today was an awesome day!  Mendez didn't get an opportunity to play in the field but was the extra hitter.  He didn't get a hit today going 0 for 2 but he made great adjustments at the plate.

For four years, we have been discussing the importance of playing under control.  With the stakes being so high at this MLB Showcase, it is easy to feel high levels of anxiety and nervousness.  Mendez put his emotions to the side today and accepted the fact that he is one of the top high school baseball players in America.  We are a long way from the finished product with Mendez but he is further along that most high school players.

He was so relaxed in the batters box today and I was internally saying to myself with each at bat how proud I was of him.

Baseball truly is the ultimate game of failure that measures success based on how much you fail.  Kind of weird when you think about it.  Major League scouts grade prospects on a 20-80 scale with a 50 score being major league average and 80 being off the charts.  Today, Mendez got an 80 for his ability to make adjustments.  Tomorrow is a new day and another opportunity to improve.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A day of service at Grove Park Elementary School

For the second year, the L.E.A.D. Ambassadors and Jr. Ambassadors had the opportunity to help teachers at Grove Park Elementary School prepare for the first day of school on August 8th.  Service is one of the four pillars of excellence for L.E.A.D.

I attended Grove Park from kindergarten to 5th grade and those were some of the best years of my life.  Teachers served as mentors as well as an extended family.  As a child at Grove Park, I remembered walking through the halls feeling that I could truly be anything that I put my mind to.  I was blessed to have caring parents and the school served as partners to my family.  The community was strong and anything other than excellence was unacceptable.  I felt that all of my dreams could become reality.

Today was special because the young men in my organization L.E.A.D. that I mentor had an opportunity to serve others.  Leaders are developed by serving others.  This day of service also gave them a sense of investment to their community.  Martin Luther King Jr. once said that everyone can be great because everyone can serve.  L.E.A.D. has a day of service at least once per month every month throughout the year.

The doors at Grove Park will be open to hundreds of smiles next week.  Principal Caitlin Sims will give hundreds of hugs and future leaders of Atlanta will be nurtured.  It is a honor and a privilege to give back to a school that poured so much love into me.

"Everyone can  be great because everyone can serve".  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Following Mendez: East Coast Professional Showcase Day 2

Day 2 was the first day of baseball action for the East Coast Professional Showcase.  Mendez and the Houston Astros Scout Team played the Arizona Diamondbacks Scout Team in front of hundreds of NCAA and MLB scouts.  He was definitely in the right place at the right time.  High school players dream of being in this position.

Most of the players here have already committed to some of the nations top college programs but there are still several uncommitted players like Mendez that are looking to capture the eyes of scouts.

Mendez was the second catcher to play for the Astros today.  He caught the 5th and 6th inning and got one at bat.  He was 0 for 1 with a fly ball to center field.  There are three catchers on the team so I'm sure that he will get more innings behind the plate and more at bats tomorrow.

Being here is an amazing opportunity but it is easy to be overwhelmed.  Mendez is taking everything in stride realizing that everyone is aiming to be the best.  Baseball is an individual sport that is played in a team concept.  It is also a sport that considers you a success based on how often you fail.  Major Leaguers make millions of dollars to fail.

I wake up every morning thankful that God has given me life, a sound mind and the opportunity to be the best.  My prediction for Mendez tomorrow is three quality at bats and a big smile when he walks off the field.

Good night.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Following Mendez: East Coast Professional Showcase Day 1

If you are top ranked high school baseball player with Major League Baseball draft potential, you are in Lakeland, FL August 1-4 for the annual East Coast Professional Baseball Showcase.  It is an honor once again to be on the road with Atlanta's Own Mendez Elder.  Mendez is a four-year L.E.A.D. Ambassador and a senior at Henry W. Grady High School in Atlanta, GA.

Day 1 has been very relaxed.  He checked in at the Detroit Tigers Spring Training Complex and received his Houston Astros uniform and equipment followed by dinner and symposium.  Tomorrow will include batting practice and a 3:30PM game against the Arizona Diamondbacks Scout Team.

There will be over 500 NCAA and Major League Baseball scouts at this event that showcases the top high school baseball players east of the Mississippi River.  I have been fortunate over the years to have several of my clients at Diamond Directors here including 2008 1st pick overall selection Tim Beckham (Tampa Rays), Kyle Parker, 1st Round, Colorado Rockies; Charlie Culberson, 1st Round, San Francisco Giants; Xavier Avery, 2nd Round, Baltimore Orioles; Jay Austin, 2nd Round, Houston Astros; Telvin Nash, 3rd Round, Houston Astros to name a few.

Mendez is a special talent and should walk away from this showcase with several more scholarship offers.  He currently has offers from Alcorn State University and Savannah State University to name a couple.  He is fast twitch right hand hitter with a above average throwing arm from the catching position and the outfield.

He earned the right to attend this invitation only showcase after an outstanding showing at the Perfect Game National Showcase in Fort Myers in July.  In preparation for this showcase, we trained at my Diamond Directors Training Facility helping him to repeat his swing with efficiency.  He also maintained his strength at Rapid Performance.

There are so many people that have helped Mendez along the way as he achieves his dream of playing college baseball and it is an honor for me to be a part of his journey.  Click here to learn more about the East Coast Professional Showcase.  Baseball is alive in the inner city of Atlanta.  Among other things, Mendez's continued success is putting Atlanta Public School baseball back on the map.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Think "Encouragement"

Think "Encouragement"

By: Dr. David Jeremiah

...that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God.
Colossians 2:2

Recommended Reading
Colossians 2:1-3

Jonas Salk, the great scientist and discoverer of the vaccine against polio, understood how to think and work with confidence. He was once asked, "How does this outstanding achievement, which has effectively brought an end to the word ‘polio' in our vocabulary, cause you to view your 200 previous failures?"

"I have never had 200 failures in my whole life," he replied. "My family didn't think in terms of failure. They taught in terms of experiences and what could be learned. I just made my 201st discovery, and I couldn't have made it without learning from the previous 200 experiences."

Salk's example is illustrative to the Christian life. To support and encourage others we have to stay encouraged ourselves; and we have to learn to think, believe, and live with assurance and conviction. Based on the promises of God, we have every reason to be optimistic. It's the uplifting "can-do" attitude of a biblical encourager that stokes the flames of God's work in the lives of others.

Learn to think "encouragement."

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.
Thomas Edison

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Two eyes aren't enough

How do poor students in Atlanta view success?  Do they see hope and a promising future the same way that my daughter does who will enter the Westminster School in the fall as a fifth grader?

I was born and raised in the inner city of Atlanta and had both parents in the house.  My parents worked really hard to provide everything that I needed but we still had our share of financial struggles.  I remember my mom always telling me that I could be anything that I wanted to be in life with hard work and hanging around the right people.

The right people that she talked to me about often times were my teachers at Grove Park Elementary School in the Atlanta Public School System.  Mrs. Jacobs, Mrs. Weems, Mr. Flynn, Mrs. Blue, Principal Jones and many others helped my family to raise me to become a good fearing servant of others.

God blessed me with two eyes but I was blessed to have great mentors around me that allowed me to use their eyes as well.  They provided a culture of accountability, excellence and achievement every day that I walked into the school.  Becoming successful was just as easy as breathing air as long as I followed their lead.

A promising future will be difficult to see with only two eyes.  I charge you today to find young adults that you can mentor and let them see life from your eyes.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Let's make OUR APS better today!

I can't wait for the new APS school year to start. The past two years have presented some challenges but I'm optimistic that 2011 will be great.  In the end, Atlanta's best assets include young bright minds of APS. As a city, our success or failure lies in the hands of the students. 

In 2011, my organization L.E.A.D. will continue to offer baseball as a year round program to APS middle and high school students.  Since 2007, 100% of our L.E.A.D. Ambassadors have graduated from high school and enrolled in college while 87% have received college baseball scholarships.

My wheels are turning everyday as I figure out what more can I do to help APS carry out it's mission and vision. I attended Grove Park Elementary School K-5 in the Atlanta Public School System. It was an awesome academic, social and exposure experience for me.  I am who I am today because of APS. 

I challenge you to do what you can to support APS through the school system or partnering organizations like L.E.A.D.  Let's make OUR APS better today!

Join the L.E.A.D. Tailgate Club today at www.Lead2Legacy.org. L.E.A.D. Today...Change Tomorrow! 

Monday, July 4, 2011

We alive but we ain't living!

The Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776 granting the United States it's freedom from Great Britain.  This freedom didn't come without a fight. Many lives were lost to ensure that we all can live the American Dream. 

This is a day that I am also reminded of the sacrifices that were made by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to ensure equality in America.

Unfortunately, freedom isn't often appreciated until it is taking away. We are fighting a battle in the Middle East right now to maintain our peace of mind and liberties that were fought for by soldiers centuries ago. I wake up every morning wanting to be the best American that I can be. I want to serve others. I want to love others. I want to make sure that my time on this earth isn't done in vain. God has us all here 
on a mission. 

In the words of Cee-Lo Green, "We alive but we ain't living!". Take advantage of the freedoms that we have in America because someone gave up their life so that you can live. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Everyone is welcome to the 2011 College Baseball World Series

The annual College Baseball World Series has a new corporate home.  AmeriTrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska now seats more people than it's former CWS home Rosenblatt Stadium and provides an even better fan experience for the thousands of fans that travel from coast to coast to witness the best teams in college baseball compete.

NCAA college baseball doesn't make nearly as much money as college football but you don't build a stadium with those types of specs unless there is a substantial amount of money to be made.

As a Southerner, I am extremely proud because the southeast is represented by so many teams from the ACC and SEC. We take baseball serious in these parts!

Among the 8 teams that are competing for the National Championship title, there are only 4% of African American players that are competing among the total 275 scholarship players. There are no African American coaches on either school staff.  Is the representation so low because the NCAA doesn't want African Americans to participate?

Each school recruits the best student-athletes that they can that will graduate from college and help them win the College World Series trophy.  With that said, if you aren't a polished player, you can't play for Vanderbilt, North Carolina, Florida and the other participating schools in the CWS. You don't get to Omaha by luck.  You better have talent and a lot of it.

What does it take to become a polished player?  It takes a lot of money!  With an investment of 8K per year, you can get professional development training, exposure and advice.  If you don't have the money, you don't have chance.  This is why my wife Kelli and I created L.E.A.D. to serve inner city families in Atlanta that want to use baseball to access a college education. 75% of the families that we serve in the Atlanta Public School System live at or below the poverty level while 34% of African-American males graduate from high school.

L.E.A.D. continues to develop inner city players on and off the field and place them in colleges as student-athletes. We haven't had an Ambassador play in the CWS yet but it is coming soon. We were fortunate to have Ambassador alum Nick Marigny compete this year in the Junior College World Series representing Southern Union College.

Our year round programming for middle and high school age students is getting stronger especially with the support of individuals like you. Join L.E.A.D.'s Tailgate Club at www.Lead2Legacy.org. L.E.A.D. Today...Change Tomorrow!

Everyone is welcome to attend the College Baseball World Series as a fan but only the skilled student-athletes can take the field.  We will continue to L.E.A.D. the way to Omaha!

Monday, June 20, 2011

L.E.A.D. batted 1.000 again in 2011

We selected 20 Ambassadors for the 2010-2011 season back in November during L.E.A.D. Weekend at Turner Field. Eight of those Ambassadors were seniors that devoted themselves to the L.E.A.D. organization and the Ambassadors program for the sole purpose of graduating from high school and receiving a college baseball scholarship.

Because of disciplinary reasons, three of the 8 Ambassadors were removed in the spring. It is unfortunate but the Ambassadors program is strict and requires 100% commitment from everyone involved. The only way that we can continue to achieve amazing success as an organization is to remain rooted in our mission and vision.

Today is a special day for Georgians because all five of the remaining Ambassadors have graduated from high school and will be signing college baseball scholarships. Only 43% of African American males graduate from high school in Georgia while less than 7% of African Americans compete in baseball at the NCAA level.

L.E.A.D. batted 1.000 once again in 2011. Since 2007, 100% of our Ambassadors have graduated from high school and enrolled in college while 87% have entered with a baseball scholarship. With the rising cost of tuition, our young men need all the financial support that they can get in order to further their education.

Please continue to pray for L.E.A.D. and we hope to see you at one of our upcoming Ambassadors/Junior Ambassadors games or monthly service projects. Check out our schedule and join our Tailgate Club at http://www.lead2legacy.org/.

2011 Ambassadors Seniors
Desmond Stegall, B.E. Mays High School, Grambling State University
Marvin Goodman II, MLK High School, Atlanta Sports Academy
Cedric Daniel, MLK High School, Abraham Baldwin Community College, GA
Kerry Webb, MLK High School, Atlanta Sports Academy
Brandon Sharpe, MLK High School, Andrew College, GA

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Following Mendez: Perfect Game National Showcase Day 4

Mendez came out today locked in! In his first at bat, he hit a stand up triple facing a low 90's fastball from a lefty.  When he hit the ball, all you heard from the scouts was "Whooo!". Everything was perfect. Good timing and swing mechanics. On his second at bat, the middle infielders were playing at double play depth and he hit a hard ground ball up the middle and the shortstop was able to easily range to the ball to turn the double play.

The showcase is over for Mendez and he performed well against top tier national competition. He carried L.E.A.D. on his back this week. He has cut the trail for young baseball players from the Atlanta Public School System for years to come.

Mendez is heading to the beach tomorrow with his mom while Ben and I bake in the hot sun scouting players. L.E.A.D. Today...Change Tomorrow!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Following Mendez: Perfect Game National Showcase Day 3

We were up at 6:30AM preparing to get to the stadium for Day 3 of the Perfect Game National Showcase.  Mendez’s game was at 1PM.  The excitement remained in the air for all of the young high school players that are getting the opportunity to showcase their talent in front of hundreds of scouts.

Once again, the sun is beaming early in the morning.  I sat back in my new favorite shaded spot along the first base side of the field in order to get a good camera angle.

Mendez was back in action again catching some of the best high school flame throwers.  He was doing well until after 10 pitches when he began to collapse.  Dehydration began to kick in and caused him to leave the game defensively.  He did get two at bats today though.  He didn’t get any hits today but he hit every ball hard between shortstop and 2nd base which is an indication of how short his gotten.  So far, he is 1 for 3 with no strikeouts.

We are getting some much needed rest tonight and looking forward to tomorrow.  Today was special for me as well since I had the opportunity to discuss hitting with Hall of Famer Cal Ripken.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Following Mendez: Perfect Game National Showcase Day 2

The day began with check in at 9AM and it is now 11PM and we just got back to the hotel.  Mendez is still amped up from a great day.

He threw 92 MPH from the outfield in the showcase format.  His pop time was 1.8 from the catching position which is a solid major league average grade.  He was a little tight in the beginning of batting practice but quickly settled in and began to hit line drives.

When the lights came on, Mendez stepped in the box against an easy throwing right hander that topped out with a 93 MPH fastball.  The first pitch that Mendez saw was a 92 MPH fastball on the outside corner that he drove up the middle for a base hit single.  The ball was hit so hard that the middle infielders didn’t even attempt to field it.  Getting the single wasn’t enough so he immediately stole second base.  Three pitches later, he stole 3rd base.

All and all, it was a great day to perform in front of hundreds of college and MLB scouts.  I am glad to be on the ride.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Following Mendez: Perfect Game National Showcase Day 1

Today’s flight to Ft. Myers from Atlanta was a quick 70 minute trip.  As we took off in the plane, I reminded myself that this is a part of the plan for L.E.A.D.  Our job is to get Atlanta inner city high school players to college.  Many critics feel that inner city Atlanta teens aren’t good enough to compete on the national stage.  Mendez is proving the critics wrong with every step that he takes to City of Palms Park in Ft. Myers for the Perfect Game National Showcase which is the spring training home of the Minnesota Twins.

I sat next to Felicia (Mendez mother) on the way down and we talked about how Atlanta was back in the day.  She was born and raised in Atlanta just like me and elated to be here to watch her son represent the Atlanta Public School System that she graduated from.

Crystal Giles hooked us up with an amazing hotel room so we will be able to sleep well and be rested for a full day tomorrow.  We are so fortunate to have a Publix next door.  I love those sandwiches.
There is so much work scouting work to be done out here for me that I had to bring in my trusty assistant Ben Wolosick with us.  There will be over 500 scouts in attendance tomorrow watching the top 150 players in America.

We are winding down for the night and Mendez is starting to relax.  He is so excited for obvious reason.  He will do well.  Tomorrow is scheduled to start at 9AM with orientation, BP and a 1PM game to follow.  Stay tuned for photos and my blog post tomorrow.  Good night from Ft. Myers, FL.

Overcoming the storms

Guest blog post by: Marvin R. Goodman II

How did this happen? How did we go from having our own home, a new truck, and easy living to joblessness, financial uncertainty, carless, and no place of our own? Mom says “It’s just a test and a temporary situation. Just do what you need to do to get where you want to be; we have your back,” but I can’t help but to wonder how they keep it all together when it seems like we just can’t catch a break.

My high school days have been reeked with challenges: the loss of my grandma in 2009, watching the debilitating effects of Dementia on my granddad, losing our home and our car in 2010, and yet, through it all, Mom finds a way to keep the family balanced. Her ‘keep it moving’ attitude is what has helped me make it through. After all, despite our downfalls, this spring I have the opportunity to join the ranks of degree-seeking, career-minded student athletes across the nation, and that is exciting.

My goals are to someday play major league baseball and to become an FBI agent. I realize now that I dropped the ball in high school, but I hope to make a stunning recovery in college. Mom pushed her way through and graduated Summa Cum Laude last May with two bachelors’ degrees and I aspire to graduate with honors as well. For me, going to college equates to a soldier being awarded the Medal of Honor. Part of my plan to get there is to use my athletic talents as a means to my desired end – scholarship offers.

I have a new appreciation for life’s storms because they help build character and help make us stronger. I know I have what it takes to succeed in college and I look forward to every potential opportunity before me. In the words of my late great-grandmother, “I can show you better than I can tell you.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Getting our lead and headed to 2nd base

The L.E.A.D. vision became reality the summer of 2007. We had amazing athletes on the field that were giving their all but we fell short in the win column often. The losses on the field continued to increase but the scholarships increased.  To date, 87% of our Ambassadors have gone on to compete at the collegiate level with a baseball scholarship.  Prior to the 2011 season, our Ambassadors record was 10-150.

We began the Ambassadors summer baseball program with a strategic plan in mind. We used 2007 to 2010 as our time to get from home plate to 1st base.  Head coach Duane Wilson continues to push our boys and get the most out of them. We are so blessed to have an amazing head coach and even better person.

So far in 2011, our record is 6-5 and every game has been competitive against nationally ranked opponents.  Today, we hosted the East Cobb Patriots at our home field Perkerson Park. Very seldom does nationally recognized teams travel to the inner city of Atlanta to play games but L.E.A.D. is earning respect.  As an organization, we are getting our lead and headed to 2nd base with your continued support.

We have several games coming up. Join our L.E.A.D. Tailgate Club at www.Lead2Legacy.org and support an organization that is "Winning At The Game of Life!"

Friday, June 10, 2011

A day of service with Deloitte

How much money would it take for you to sign a Major League Baseball contract and forgo a college education? This is a very difficult question that my L.E.A.D. Ambassadors was able to answer today with the help from professionals at Deloitte (www.Deloitte.com) in Atlanta.

Throughout the United States, Deloitte declared today as Service Day and made an impact in several communities.

I remember 1994 like it was yesterday. I signed my National Letter of Intent with Georgia State University in the winter and was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the summer. I was the only graduate at Westlake High School faced with the opportunity to attend college or turn pro and it was a difficult decision but I chose to attend GSU.

Deloitte made the process so simple today for my Ambassadors by adding real numbers in an Excel spreadsheet along with sound advice.  The reality is that as an 18 year old, you don't have as much money as you think that you do when you consider the things that you need to be successful and the things that you want to be happy.

Being exposed to Deloitte today allowed my Ambassadors to also see yet another industry leader right here in Atlanta. They were all able to do some powerful networking. For some of them, they will be working in the 191 building on Peachtree Street and some of them will hire a professional from Deloitte upon graduation from college.

Special thanks to John Sadoff and Deloitte for serving us today. The "E" in L.E.A.D. stands for Exposure and Deloitte didn't let us down.