Friday, February 25, 2011

Sound advice

L.E.A.D. is an acronym that stands for Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct. We successfully carry out our mission by advising parents, coaches and players about the college baseball recruiting process so that the families we serve can use baseball to access college.

Back in the day, baseball scouts would always find you if you were a good baseball player. It was also back in the day when you only had to pay $100 to play baseball. There was no need for families to budget for private baseball instruction because the industry didn't exist. Today, the baseball industry is worth billions. To be competitive for a baseball scholarship you must invest in all or a combination of the following resources and services (professional skill instructor, speed/strength coach, nutritionist, mental performance coach, baseball equipment, travel expenses to showcases/tournaments, showcase/tournament fees, and an advisor to help you manage the process) just to name a few.

I have successfully worked in the baseball industry as a skill trainer and advisor for 12 years. To give a child the best chance to leverage baseball to receive a baseball scholarship, you have to invest a minimum of $8,000 annually into the student/athlete. If you start the process after 15, you are too late.

L.E.A.D. exists because my parents didn't have $8,000 to invest in my dream of playing college and professional baseball. Today, 75% of inner city Atlanta students live at or below the poverty line. How can these young men possibly dream of playing a game that they love at the collegiate level when they don't have the income to support the dream? How did I do it? I did it with the help of my parents, T.J. Wilson, Dave Whitfield and others within the Atlanta community.

My advice as the owner of Diamond Directors ( has helped placed Brandon Thomas at GA Tech, Chris Epps to Clemson University, Jason Heyward (Atlanta Braves) to UCLA, Dexter Fowler (Colorado Rockies) to Harvard and many more. How does L.E.A.D. continue to send so many inner city students to college on baseball scholarships? Sound advice from someone who has lived the life!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Exposure the L.E.A.D. Way

Exposure means to subject or allow to be subject to an action, influence, or condition. L.E.A.D. has had a positive influence in our lives. L.E.A.D. has exposed my son to things he has never been exposed to before and it is done without bias. He has been exposed to servant leadership within our community  as well professional baseball skill training. Exposure to the right things makes a young man excited when you mention L.E.A.D. and what they stand for. Exposure to the right things makes a young man excited to serve his community and feel good about giving back.  Exposure to the right things makes a young man excited to come to practice or a workout session.

L.E.A.D. teaches young men how to give back and make a difference even if their peers don't think that it is cool.  L.E.A.D. is not exposing young men to things just for today but for the exposure to makes a difference in the future. The mission is to expose young men to a lifestyle where they feel like they are somebody and they can make a difference in the lives of others.  L.E.A.D.’s exposure is a great journey with lots of great memories and a legacy for others to follow!

Thanks L.E.A.D. for making a difference in my son's life!!!! As a parent I am PROUD to be a part if this GREAT organization.

Katrina Johnson
Proud mother of D'Anthony, 2010-11 L.E.A.D. Ambassador In Training and 2011 Jean Childs Young Middle School Leader

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Launching African American males straight to college

L.E.A.D. means so much to so many different people. In four words, L.E.A.D. is an acronym that stands for Launch, Expose. Advise and Direct.

We successfully launch educational opportunities by converting the raw baseball talent of inner city Atlanta middle and high school age males to skills that are attractive to college baseball coaches. When we successfully develop the talent of our L.E.A.D. Leaders and Ambassadors, it results into baseball scholarships.

In three years, we have sent 100% of our Ambassadors to college and 87% of them have received baseball scholarships. Only 43% of black males graduate from high school in Georgia. That leaves 57% of black males that have to find a way to pay for their education if they choose to enroll in college.

My parents didn't have a separate fund set up for me to attend college so I had to use baseball and academics to enter Georgia State University. There was no other way. Although I graduated from Westlake High School with a 3.5 GPA, I didn't have a single academic scholarship offered. The HOPE scholarship was a blessing to me and I used it along with my baseball scholarship and financial aid to make my dream of going to college a reality.

At the end of the day, without baseball, there is no way that I value my education enough to graduate from high school and go to college. I just couldn't see how Algebra or Earth Science was going to lead me to a successful job. I knew that getting an A in the class would help my chances of being recruited for baseball so I buckled down and got the A. Without baseball, there is no way that I become one of the top baseball instructors in the country. There is no way that I accept mentor as a word to describe myself. There is no way that I value my marriage and fatherhood. There is no way that L.E.A.D. exists!

This is that time of year when people ask "Why is the number of African Americans in baseball declining?" Not only are young African Americans playing baseball in Atlanta, they are also successfully using baseball to access college.

With your help, I will continue to L.E.A.D. Today and Change Tomorrow! Join our Tailgate Club at

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Living legends that still L.E.A.D.

"To understand the road ahead, ask those coming back. Success leaves clues". That is my favorite Chinese proverb. Since a young age, I was told to be a leader. I wasn't shown what leadership was truly about until I was given the opportunity to serve others. Leadership is often times used as a general term when expressed to youth to simply not get in trouble.

L.E.A.D.'s definition of leadership is service. Under my leadership, my young men have an opportunity to serve once per month every month throughout the year. This is how they pay their way to L.E.A.D. and to society. Being in L.E.A.D. for some is an answer to their prayers. Georgia graduates 43% of it's black males from high school.

This inate attitude of leadership as an action word for me has always been inspired by some great Atlantans. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ambassador Andrew Young and Mr Hank Aaron have displayed an unmeasurable amount of leadership that the world has noticed for decades. I am fortunate to make my dreams become a reality in the same city that these men call(ed) home.

How awesome it would be for me to tell Dr. King that I started the first middle school baseball program in the same Atlanta Public School System that educated him. How awesome it would be for me to tell Ambassador young that the elite level for the young men in L.E.A.D. are called Ambassadors in his honor. 100% of them have graduated from high school and enrolled in college and 87% have received scholarships. How awesome it would be to let Hank Aaron know that I appreciate his accomplishments on the field and I am truly inspired by his front office position with the Atlanta Braves. This inspired me for the 2nd year to take 90 L.E.A.D. Middle School School Baseball Development League Leaders to Turner Field to get an up close look at how the front office prepares us to see our Honorary Ambassador Jason Heyward on the field.

I will continue to push forward to use L.E.A.D. to help my Leaders and Ambassadors use baseball to access college. We have successfully done this since 2007 with a 100% success rate. I can't do better than 100% but I can serve more students in Atlanta. Leadership is an ACTION word so that is exactly what I will do with our L.E.A.D. supporters.

To understand the road ahead, ask those coming back. Success leaves clues. I have one question for you Ambassador Young and Mr. Aaron. How do I lead this next generation of leaders?

Monday, February 14, 2011

I love you Atlanta!

Love listens, encourages and makes sacrifices for others. I love Atlanta because it first loved me. 

On this Valentine Day, my gift to Atlanta is two additional teams (Jean Childs Young Middle School and Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School) in our L.E.A.D. Middle School Baseball Development League.  This addition allows 30 middle school males from the Atlanta Public School System to have access to my organization which has graduated 100% of our Ambassadors.  To date, all of our Ambassadors have enrolled in college and 87% of them have received a baseball scholarship. 

I listened to the cries of inner city high school males in 2007 and I answered with L.E.A.D.  I encourage my mentees by being a consistent and stable mentor. L.E.A.D. has remained a 12 month program of excellence since day one because the Atlanta Public School System was the same for me.  L.E.A.D. is my families legacy so it is only natural for us to make sacrifices for the city that raised me to be the leader that I am. 

I love you Kelli, Mackenzi and Mackenna!  I love you Atlanta!  I love you L.E.A.D. and our many supporters!

Happy Valentines Day!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Time for some baseball

The NFL season is over and the Green Bay Packers are the champions.  They beat my Atlanta Falcons so they deserve it.

When the clock reaches zero at the Super Bowl, it is officially baseball season.  We know that spring is right around the corner and everything becomes alive.

L.E.A.D. is planning for another productive year both on and off the baseball field.  Our Middle School Baseball League season starts on Saturday, March 26th and our L.E.A.D. Ambassadors begin May 28th.

The Ambassadors will be present during the GA Tech Baseball annual pre-season dinner on February 17th where the 2011 Yellow Jackets will be introduced and super baseball agent Scott will be the keynote speaker.  Our Middle School Leaders will shadow Atlanta Braves staff on March 26th for our Hats Off event.

America's favorite sport is here Atlanta.  Come support baseball in the inner city this spring by joining our Tailgate Club.  L.E.A.D. Today, Change Tomorrow.  It is time for some baseball!