Wednesday, August 29, 2012

More Atlanta Braves wins, higher high school graduation rates

The success of the Atlanta Braves in the 90's caused everyone to go crazy over baseball.  Do you remember when people were driving around with Tomahawks on their cars.  Youth baseball parks were filled with kids.  It seemed like everyone was wearing Braves hats and t-shirts in Atlanta.  I remember the pride that I felt as an Atlantan when Maddux, Smoltz and Glavine were shutting the opposing teams down.

I believe that if the Braves can go another championship run, baseball participation in the inner city of Atlanta will increase by the thousands.

The Atlanta Braves continue to be a strong supporter of L.E.A.D.'s mission to provide inner city Atlanta at-risk males with access to higher education and civic engagement through baseball.  L.E.A.D. has proven that when using baseball as the vehicle, high school graduation rates will increase.  Check out L.E.A.D. Impact Stats.

With only a few weeks in the Major League Baseball season, continue to cheer for the Braves.  Their success will improve education in the inner city of Atlanta.  Go Braves!

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

Turner Field on a beautiful night in Atlanta

Monday, August 20, 2012

This is why we L.E.A.D.

Atlanta is no doubt an amazing city.  We are the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Coca-Cola, Delta, Chick-fil-A and on and on.  The world often times looks to us for innovation and solutions to problems.

Like other major cities, we have our large share of problems.  Among that list of problems is high rates of poverty and crime caused by low rates of high school graduation.

Every problem creates an opportunity.  This the need for L.E.A.D.  Our mission is to provide inner city Atlanta middle and high school African-American males with access to higher education and civic engagement through baseball.  Click here to check out our impact stats.

Check out this article to understand why we L.E.A.D.

L.E.A.D. stepped up and hit a home run for Atlanta

The Braves Youth Clinic and Summit has come and gone.  We had an amazing time.  The Atlanta Braves entrusted L.E.A.D. to provide a unique clinic experience to youth in the metro Atlanta area during the MLB Civil Rights Game Weekend.  Click here to check out some of the action.

We invited 350 middle school students and we got 350 students!  L.E.A.D. stepped up to the plate and hit a home run for Atlanta!  Special thanks to Delta, KIA, MasterCard, and Atlanta Public Schools.

They received great baseball instruction from our L.E.A.D. Ambassadors as well as Atlanta Braves alum such as Greg McMichael, Rick Camp, Charlie Liebrandt and Otis Nixon as well as the Morehouse College Baseball Team.

L.E.A.D. Ambassador Max Hyde with the Thomas boys
Morehouse Baseball in the House!

The students were also inspired by our panelist during the Braves Youth Baseball Summit.  There are so many careers in baseball and today was a great way at a great venue to expose it.  Special thanks to Zach Klein (WSB-TV), Leron Rogers, Minister Tim Sims, Othello Renfroe Jr., Jasha Balcom and Ronnie Richardson (Atlanta Braves).

Minister Tim Sims and Othello Renfroe Jr.

Even though it was the first baseball experience for many of these Atlanta Public School students, they can still remain connected to baseball through L.E.A.D.

L.E.A.D.'s Fall Legacy League starts August 25, 2012

L.E.A.D. is an Atlanta based non-profit organization that provides inner city middle and high school age males with access to higher education and civic engagement through baseball.  We are more than bats and balls.  Our impact is measured by young men graduating from high school and enrolling into college.  Click here to check our impact stats.

Baseball isn't dead in the inner city.  It is alive and well because of supporters like you.  Click here to find ways to support our mission.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

L.E.A.D.'s continued role in MLB's Civil Rights Weekend

You can't consider the success of the Civil Rights Movement without giving credit to baseball.  Jackie Robinson being accepted into the major leagues prepared our country for the reality of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s DREAM.

In 2007, Major League Baseball created the Civil Rights Game to honor the history of civil rights and the role that baseball played.  To date, the games have been played in Memphis, Cincinnati, and Atlanta.

Last year, our L.E.A.D. Ambassadors had the honor of throwing out the first pitch prior to the 5th Annual Civil Rights Game.  Talk about emotional.  I sat adjacent to the dugout looking at Ambassadors Mendez Elder and Wesley Clement talking to Ambassador Andrew Young and Reverend Joseph Lowery.  Ironically, our Ambassadors name was inspired by Ambassador Young.  So there they are walking to the pitchers mound together. Ambassador Young gave Mendez and baseball to throw to Jason Heyward and Reverend Lowery gave a ball to Wesley to throw to Ryan Howard.  Jason and Ryan returned the ball to them.  To me, it was symbolic of passing the torch.

Needless to say that both Ambassador Young and Reverend Lowery have set the bar really high with their public service.  L.E.A.D. is positioning our Ambassadors each day to serve others and represent the promising future of Atlanta.  L.E.A.D.'s mission is to provide inner city middle and high school age Atlanta males with access to higher education and civic engagement through baseball.  We are so serious about achieving our mission, that we measure our impact.  Check our stats!

This year, L.E.A.D. has the honor of providing a clinic and summit experience for over 300 youth during the Braves Youth Clinic and Summit.  Our Ambassadors provide clinics throughout the year so this will be another great opportunity for them to share their knowledge with younger students.  Special thanks to the Braves for entrusting us with this opportunity.  There will be hundreds of boys and girls throughout metro Atlanta that will receive amazing instruction from our Ambassadors as well as former/current MLB players.

After the clinic, the students will meet Zach Klein (WSB-TV/Channel 2) who will serve as the events moderator.  Our guest speakers include Jasha Balcom, Tim Sims and Leron Rogers.

Contrary to popular belief, African-American youth love to play baseball.  The numbers of African-American competing at the NCAA (less than 6%) and MLB (less than 9%) level is so low because the cost to play is so high.  Every problem creates an opportunity thus the need for L.E.A.D.

I'm pleased that L.E.A.D. is able to continue to serve the Atlanta community with year round programming.  So after the clinic, inner city Atlanta youth will plug right into L.E.A.D. Fall Legacy League program.

Atlanta is full of legends and I'm proud that L.E.A.D. is a part of the city's rich legacy.  So much has been done in the name of baseball and so much more will be done.  Join us as we continue to Transform Communities Through Baseball.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Heck yeah it was worth it!

If you want to know the strength of sports throughout the world, search no further than the Olympic Games.  Every four years, we get the opportunity to see the world's greatest athletes compete in the summer.  The long list of sports include luge, badminton, curling, archery, sailing, gymnastics and many more.

It never crossed my mind to strive to become an Olympian.  I was fortunate to play professional baseball for the Chicago Cubs and that required hours of physical and mental training.  However, Olympians take their training up 10 notches.

As an Olympian, you are representing your country hoping to receive the gold medal.  You are making sacrifices every minute of the day and you are aren't getting paid a dime.  I love the Olympics.  It is pure competition for something larger than individual accomplishments.

Now that I think about it, I have heard several kids say that they want to play in the MLB, NBA and NFL but never have I heard one single kid say that I want to be an Olympian.  Maybe it is from a lack of exposure. Or maybe because it requires too much of a sacrifice.

I read the story of Gabby Douglas moving from her families home in Virginia while in middle school to train in Iowa in order to become an Olympian.  Was it worth it? Heck yeah it was.  She is the first African-American female to win a gold medal in the gymnastics all-around.  More importantly, she's did it under the American flag.  That is something that we all can be proud of.

How amazing are her parents for believing in Gabby so much that she would be allowed to achieve her dream of becoming an Olympian.  Nights away from your loved ones.  Gaining new friendships hundreds of miles away.  Learning a new culture.  When God speaks, you better move.

Hundreds of millions of eye balls are glued to television and social media every day viewing the Olympics.  I would love to experience the feeling of holding the American flag with a medal around my neck.  It makes all the hours of training worth it.

I look forward to continuing action of the Olympics admiring the sacrifice of its athletes and learning more about their journeys.  They are Americans and their journey is our journey.  They are winning for us all.