Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The big gain for the decrease of African-Americans in baseball

It's the year 2024 and 42% of the NCAA baseball players are African-Americans.

That is one of the headlines that I'm working towards becoming a reality through L.E.A.D. If that headline becomes true, my wife Kelli and I would have successfully worked ourselves out of a job.

L.E.A.D.'s mission is to empower an at risk generation to lead and transform their city of Atlanta. Our vision is for our L.E.A.D. Ambassadors to lead Atlanta to lead the world.

L.E.A.D. was established in Atlanta in 2007 by my wife and I because of declining high school graduation rates as well as the low number of African-Americans competing in baseball at the collegiate level.  The decline of blacks in the major leagues gets most of the media attention but it isn't the major problem.

Back to 2014. In Atlanta, 60% of African-American males will not graduate from high school on time. In the NCAA, less than 6% of the baseball players are African-American.

Just a thought. It seems that the problem with the problem is that you can no longer make money off the problem if there is a solution. There is a lot of money being made discussing the decline of African-Americans in baseball.

In Atlanta, L.E.A.D. partners with Atlanta Public Schools (APS) to offer 12 months of baseball and core value training to 500+ African-American males at the middle and high school level. The APS educators are some of the best in the country. They depend on organizations like L.E.A.D. to keep the students engaged so that they may reach their full potential in life. That's what partnership is all about.

Click here to check out how many L.E.A.D. Ambassadors are competing at the NCAA level, graduating from college and gainfully employed by our partners such as Mizuno.

Nick Marigny was the starting shortstop for the Jackson State University SWAC Champions and will graduate 2015
In the birth city of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coca-Cola, there is no decline of African-Americans participating in baseball. Continue to Rise Up Atlanta!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

L.E.A.D.'s Team Building Blueprint

February is a month that L.E.A.D. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct) focuses on teamwork. Our bible memory verse is "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." (Proverbs 27:17 ESV).

Great teams must include great individuals.

Great teams are also launched by crazy missions. L.E.A.D.'s mission to empower an at risk generation to lead and transform their city of Atlanta is pretty crazy. It is no secret that students in the Atlanta Public School System (APS) are underachieving. But, the state of Georgia has benefited from the past success of APS and will soon reap a healthy harvest again. One of our LEADers at Price Middle School wants to create a sport that will be introduced at the 2040 Olympics. That's crazy!

Great teams are exposed to things that the individuals didn't know that they needed to know. When I was age 8, I wanted to play for the Chicago Cubs. I was blessed to play for the Cubs but I didn't know that I could make a six figure salary teaching other people how to make it to the majors also. Some baseball players, even major leaguers need individual coaching to maximize their talent. That's where I come in as one of the best swing coaches in the industry. I asked our middle school LEADers this question in our recent mentoring session. "If every problem creates an opportunity, what job doesn't exist now that can exist in 2040 when you create it?" One of our LEADers at King Middle School said that he wants to create a shoe box that cleans your shoes. That's crazy!

2013 L.E.A.D. Signing Week at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School (APS)
Great teams are advised by leaders that will share their bad news as well as their good news. L.E.A.D. exists because I was convicted of my consistent wrong doing and simply got tired of myself. I realized that until I did what I was supposed to do, I couldn't help a team. One of your LEADers at Harper-Archer Middle School said that he was tired of talking to much in class, trying to get the wrong type of attention and being a distraction to others. Conviction creates the crossroads for change. -Kelli Stewart, L.E.A.D. Executive Director

2013 L.E.A.D. Signing Week at Harper-Archer Middle School (APS)
Great teams are directed to a place worth going. By 2040, I want the mayor of Atlanta to be a L.E.A.D. Ambassador. Everything that we do as an organization 12 months throughout the year supports this vision of mine for our L.E.A.D. Ambassadors to lead their city to lead the world. Here is a question for you. At the rate that you are going, what will you be doing in 2040?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

How the Atlanta snow storm played out for me

Scene 1

Around 6:00AM on Tuesday, January 28th as I was speaking to Kelli, I predicted that if I left this house to take Mackenzi to school in Atlanta and wait to pick her up after 12:00PM, I would be stuck in traffic for hours and severely frustrated.

Scene 2

It's 6:30AM and I'm driving down I-75 listening to 680 The Fan while taking Mackenzi to school in Atlanta. We live 25+ miles away in Cherokee County. Not much traffic on the highways maybe because snow is predicted in the forecast for Atlanta (sarcasm). Mackenzi has tennis tryouts today and loves school so if the doors are open, she wants to be there.

Scene 3

It's 10:30AM and Kelli and I are at Harper-Archer Middle School for a mentoring session with our LEADers. We had a great session as we discussed stewardship. Around 11:15AM I received a text alert that Mackenna's school in Cherokee County was dismissing her at 12:00PM and Mackenzi's school was dismissing her at 12:30PM. Kelli left to get Mackenna and I went to get Mackenzi.

Scene 4

I'm at Mackenzi's school picking her up at 12:00PM and we are headed up the road while it is snowing.

Scene 5

It is 1:30PM and we have traveled 10 miles from the school and we are both hungry and needing to use the restroom. Horns are blowing and frustration is mounting. I got off the highway to travel the streets and that was a good idea for a short while. Mackenzi got some good sleep until I was finally able to get into the Dunkin Donuts parking lot. We were able to use the restroom and get food moments before they were closing at 2:00PM for the day. I began to thank God for my blessings in exchange for my complaints. I have my daughter in the car with me and Facebook reports indicate that parents are still looking for their children.

Scene 6

It's 3:00PM and we have moved less than a mile. I'm considering getting a hotel for the night. It's that bad. Kelli is on the phone keeping me calm and navigating us. I have a half tank of gas and new tires so God has me prepared for His deliverance.

Scene 7

It's 4:00PM and we are crossing the bridge on Windy Hill less than 15 miles from my home exit. The sun is going down and the snow is turning to ice. I'm hungry again and hesitant to drink water in the fear that I can't find a restroom for us. Cars are stuck on the bridge as expected. Kelli is on the phone keeping me calm and navigating us.

Scene 8

It's 4:30PM and we made it to the Southern Poly exit. I'm aware that there is a Hampton Inn and an Applebee's right off the exit. My reality right now is that this is where we will sleep and eat for the next 48 hours. I walk in the hotel doors greeted with "we are sold out." We walk to Applebee's greeted with a sign on the door that "we are closed due to the weather." I'm really frustrated now. Doors are closing and I'm feeling hopeless. Trying to stay strong for my daughter. Now I know how Mary and Joseph must have felt. Kelli is contemplating traveling south to be with us but that can prove dangerous.

Scene 9

It's 5:00PM and I'm stuck like Chuck on 75 next to a Fed Ex truck that is spinning out. Large 18 wheel trucks are pulling over, cars are in ditches, women fixing tires and people walking along the highway and there is nothing but traffic ahead. It seems that my destination is home but I'm worried. Ironically, I purchased a John Maxwell audiobook about Mentoring and I'm beginning to calm down.

Scene 10

I'm listening to John Maxwell and noticing a good yet slow flow of traffic on I-75 south. I want to be moving like that. It's 5:45PM or so and getting dark. Kenzi is playing a game on her phone and remaining calm. It looks like traffic is being paced heading north because we are at a dead stop and I can't see any cars moving 1/2 mile ahead around the corner.

Scene 11

It's a little after 6:00PM and we are moving on this four lane highway in the middle lane, I guess, because I can't see any lines. At this rate, I am getting home for sure. Seems like God just opened everything up. Seems like my destination is home and this day has been a day to learn how to trust Him. Seems like today was a day of quick decision making. Seems like today was a day that I learned to be calm like my 12 year old daughter. Seems like today was a day that my wife, once again, proved that she has my back no matter what the situation. I LOVE that woman!

Scene 12

I'm off my exit and heading to my house at 6:30PM.

Scene 13

I'm at my house by the Grace of God eating dinner with my family and praying for those that are still on the road or at a hotel or grocery store. This is my story and millions of us have one to share. We must trust in God and be obedient to His plans for us. He closes doors for us so that we can go His way and not ours. He is always protecting us.

God was with us all and may God continue to bless us all.