Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Savannah State University answered the call

The L.E.A.D. Ambassadors played its inaugural season the summer of 2008. As a high school senior, L.E.A.D. Ambassador Joseph McCrary was one of the team captains. In my opinion, he could have played at most Division I schools but of course I'm biased. 
I made a lot of calls on his behalf to college baseball coaches and heard no each time. Coach Carlton Hardy at Savannah State University (SSU) hosted a workout that Joseph attended and it was a done deal. 

In the fall of 2009, Joseph enrolled at Savannah State University as a student-athlete. He graduated in May 2013 Magna Cum Laude from Savannah State and has been the catalyst for the program for all four years. In his senior year, the Tigers won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). This is only the second year that Savannah State has been in the conference.

The Savannah State Tigers has earned a bid to play in the Tallahassee Regional with Florida State University, University of Alabama and Troy University. Game action begins on Friday, May 31st at 5:00PM in Tallahassee and will be televised on ESPNU. 

L.E.A.D. Ambassador alums Jason Wynn (Senior, RHP) and Mendez Elder (Freshman, OF) are also integral parts of the Savannah State MEAC Championship team.

L.E.A.D. is only a vision without our Ambassadors.

Monday, May 27, 2013

If You Can't Join Them, Beat Them

Nick Marigny and his family relocated to Atlanta from his hometown of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina destroyed their home. He and his sister enrolled at my Alma Mater Westlake High School in Atlanta, GA.  Nick and his family applied to become a LEADer in the fall of 2009 as a part of our Legacy League.  After 3 months of academic, athletic, service and enrichment development, he earned the right to become a L.E.A.D. Ambassador.

His long term goal was to play baseball for Louisiana State University.  With LSU being a powerhouse baseball program with a legacy of excellence, I couldn't blame him for dreaming big.  However, I couldn't support that dream because I didn't feel that he was physically and mentally ready to play at that level.

Nick graduated from Westlake High School at the age of 16 and played baseball for two years at Southern Union Junior College in Alabama.  He is now a junior at Jackson State University where he, his teammates and coaches have earned the right and privilege of being the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Champions.

Nick Marigny holding the 2013 SWAC Championship trophy
As fate would have it, on Friday, May 31st, Nick will be the starting shortstop for the Jackson State Tigers when they face the LSU Tigers in the NCAA Baseball Regional held at LSU. Nick wasn't mentally and physically ready to play at that level back then, but he is definitely mentally and physically ready to compete against them this Friday. Continued success to Coach Omar Johnson and his staff and the entire Jackson State Tigers team!

L.E.A.D.'s mission is to create positive outcomes for at-risk, minority, inner city youth by leveraging the relationship between academics, athletics and service. We don't play baseball just to win games; we play to win at the game of life!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

L.E.A.D. is creating a new student-athlete

Our L.E.A.D. Ambassadors and Jr. Ambassadors Orientation was a success this weekend at the Atlanta Public Schools Lakewood Stadium Office of Athletics. We orientated 65 middle and high school age African-American males as well as their parents. It was packed.

L.E.A.D. Ambassadors and Jr. Ambassadors Orientation on Sunday, May 19, 2013
After decades of media reports about African-American males not wanting to play baseball, L.E.A.D. continues to prove that theory wrong. We have a waiting list of student-athletes from the Atlanta Public School System that want to play and use baseball to access college. 

L.E.A.D. was established in 2007 by my wife Kelli Stewart and I. We started with the development of 25 high school Ambassadors. Many of them are graduating from college in 2013. L.E.A.D. Ambassador alum Joseph McCrary graduated magna cum laude two weeks ago from Savannah State University.

In 2010, L.E.A.D. brought baseball to the middle school level within Atlanta Public Schools (APS). Prior to L.E.A.D., middle school baseball never existed in APS. We started with four partner middle schools in 2010 and gradually added more schools. We will add two more for a total of 10 partner middle schools for the 2013-2014 calendar school year. 

L.E.A.D.'s mission is to create positive outcomes for at risk minority inner city youth by leveraging the relationship between education, athletics and service. We offer year round programming to ensure a consistent relationship with the young men that we serve. The only way that you can effectively mentor someone is by...

1. First, presenting the mentee with something of value. For L.E.A.D., using baseball to provide our Ambassadors with access to college is something of high value. 60% of Atlanta Public School's African-American males will not graduate from high school 

2. Second, developing a relationship is key. Most adults start here by visiting students at schools for Career Day, etc. We develop our relationship with our student-athletes in the fall with our Legacy League which begins a new calendar year for L.E.A.D. 

3. Third, you must have consistent interaction with the mentee so that they can begin to trust you. As mentioned, L.E.A.D. offers year round programming in the areas of academics, baseball, service and enrichment. We are creating a new student-athlete. 

4. If all of the above occurs, you have now earned the trust of your mentee and he will now follow your lead. 

Come meet our Ambassadors and Jr. Ambassadors this summer at one of our games, practices, and even our service projects. Click here to view our summer schedule.

The L.E.A.D. Jr. Ambassadors being fitted by Derek Kopkin of MizunoUSA.com.  Coach Bakari Moore (B.E.S.T. Academy) making sure that everything fits.  Mizuno is a proud part of L.E.A.D.

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

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

L.E.A.D. wins with a few good men

The 2013 L.E.A.D. Middle School Character Development League (MSCDL) season is now officially over, with Walter L. Parks Middle School reigning as the CHAMPION! Coach D'Wayne Carter and his staff continue to serve their student-athletes with excellence.

W.L. Parks at the 2013 L.E.A.D. Hats Off event
Our MSCDL league is year round and involves weekly mentoring, service opportunities, exposure and baseball development. We are so much more than baseball y'all. 

Effective mentoring requires L.E.A.D. to:

1. Offer something of value to the student-athletes

2. Build a relationship with the student-athletes

3. Maintain consistent interaction with the student-athletes and then...

4. They will trust us and allow L.E.A.D. to mentor them.
It was fitting for Walter L. Parks Middle School to win the baseball championship since this is the last year of the school being opened within Atlanta Public Schools. 

L.E.A.D. is proud to continue our partnership with Atlanta Public Schools. The assets are the children that we serve. Our mission is to create positive outcomes for at-risk inner city minority youth by leveraging the relationships between education, athletics and service. Click here to check our L.E.A.D.'s IMPACT STATS. Before 2010, middle school baseball in Atlanta Public Schools never existed. L.E.A.D. is here now. Click here so that you can join us for upcoming events. We have plenty to choose from because we are a year round youth development organization. 

Rendell Jackson, Atlanta Public Schools Program Manager Middle School Athletics
This season would not have been a success without the tireless and excellent leadership of our L.E.A.D. Middle School Director Kerwin Giles. Kerwin was a childhood friend of mine and we are changing lives together here in Atlanta. 

Coach Kerwin Giles
Here is how I would describe all of our L.E.A.D. Partner Middle Schools for the year. 

Walter L. Parks Middle School was tried and true. The showed us that when you compete from start to finish, you can win. Congratulations Coach D'Wayne Carter, Coach Roberto Turner and Coach Zawadaski Robinson on an amazing season!

B.E.S.T. Academy Middle School was consistently business-like. They showed us that you can't win every game but you must prepare to win every game. Congratulations Coach Bakari Moore and Coach Courtney English on an amazing season!

Sylvan Hills Middle School was resilient and became a standard of excellence. They showed us that it's not how you start but it is how you finish. Congratulations Coach Sedrick Parker and Samuel Brooks on an amazing season!

Coach Sedrick Parker and Coach Samuel Brooks with their LEADers at GA Tech
Martin Luther King Middle School was strong willed, passionate and showed us how to make "rights" out of "wrongs". Congratulations Coach Kevin Young and Coach Robert Stephens on an amazing season!

Joseph E. Brown Middle School was as cool and smooth as a Cadillac. No matter what the outcome, they respected the game. A fine group of talented young men with committed coaches. Congratulations Coach Harold Moss and Coach Arney Roberson on an amazing season!

Jean Childs Young Middle School was an example of class. They showed us that talent is important to winning but sportsmanship is better. Congratulations Coach Harold House on an amazing season!

Harper-Archer Middle School was always accepting of something new and different. They showed us how to win despite a loss. They also showed us how to make good adjustments. Congratulations Coach Alana Allen, Coach Malcolm Shell and Coach John Wilson on an amazing season!

John F. Kennedy Middle School was well led and showed us how to follow good leadership. They showed us how to compete regardless of what the scoreboard says. Winning isn't determined by the final score. Congratulations Coach Brandon Johnson on an amazing season!

Coach Brandon Johnson

When L.E.A.D. wins, Atlanta wins!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Sweet Taste of Your Humble Pie

L.E.A.D.'s Elementary School Character Development Series

Humility: (1) The quality of being respectful; (2) Showing no arrogance or selfishness; and (3) Decreasing yourself so that others can teach you.

If someone is describing positive traits about me, I pray that they refer to me as being humble. Being humble means that you are respectful. Of course being respectful means to do the right thing, but let's bring respect to the day-to-day world of school.

L.E.A.D. Co-Founder CJ Stewart with L.E.A.Dership Council Member Mary Jo Walker
Being prepared for a great day of school -- Being prepared for school begins immediately after you leave school. You should be excited to do homework because it prepares you to learn new information the next day. New information makes you smart. Smart people are able to experience a high quality life. If you need help with your homework, call the APS Homework Hotline at 678-553-3029. Now that your homework is done, burn off some energy with physical activity, get you something good to eat and get in the bed by 9:00PM. My favorite dinner has any type of meat, vegetables, bread and at least two glasses of water. Your body is refreshed from a good nights sleep and it is time for a good breakfast before the school bell rings.

Being on time for school and excited to learn -- Your homework is done, you had a good dinner, lots of rest and a good breakfast. It is time to be on time for school. Being on time for school and ready to learn is a sign of respect for the opportunity to be taught by your teachers. Being respectful is an act of humility. I had perfect attendance kindergarten through high school. Being on time and ready to learn helped me to become the humble leader that I am today. The world needs new humble leaders like you. I am 37 years of age and I had to prepare for today when I was in elementary school. Make today count for tomorrow.

Our B.E.S.T. Academy LEADers arriving on time for our Hats Off event at GA Tech this spring
Listening actively in every class -- Listening actively is very different than simply hearing. Listening actively allows you to understand the instruction from your teacher. Understanding allows you to learn new information which makes you smart. The world is always in need of smart people like you. Smart people can make a lot of money also. Not listening actively causes you to fail assignments which leads to you moving backwards in life rather than forward.

One of Sylvan Hills Middle School LEADers listening actively at GA Tech during Hats Off
Give me three ways that you can show humility by being respectful at home?




"Narrate the positive script for your future and you are the star character."