We had perfect weather yesterday in Atlanta. It’s spring break for public schools which means traffic was mild for a change.
I drove into the city to get a workout in at the gym before my 10AM hitting clinic at Booker T. Washington High School. I arrived at the field at 9:15AM to set up and some players beat me there. I knew then that we were going to have a great day.
Within 10 minutes, 15 more players showed up for the clinic. At 10AM sharp, I greeted each player with a good morning and a hand shake. Afterwards, I asked, “Why the hell are you all here this morning on a baseball field with a baseball uniform on in the heart of the inner city of Atlanta during spring break?”
The first player responded quickly by saying, “to get better coach!” Another said “because I respect the game.” Another said “because I don’t want to let my coach down.”
Coach Timothy Lott is the head baseball coach at Booker T. Washington High School managing a varsity baseball team with a $200 budget that needs uniforms and equipment. They haven’t won a game all season. He addresses players as gentlemen and has one of the firmest hand shakes in the city.
Why haven’t the players at Washington High School quit on Coach Lott, because he hasn’t quit on them. Just that simple. I’m one of the top swing coaches in the country and there are several high school coaches in this state that wouldn’t dare allow me to speak to their players for fear that I might teach them something that they haven’t taught and in some way show them up or make them look bad. But Coach Lott’s shares the same mission as L.E.A.D. – to provide access to at risk inner city males access to higher education and civic engagement through baseball – so he’s intelligent enough to know that I’m here to be a resource and not THE source.
I was empowered and encouraged after yesterday’s clinic. Coach Lott is truly a change agent and capable of developing baseball players. This is great news for the student-athletes at John F. Kennedy Middle School that participate in our L.E.A.D. Middle School Development League because they will enroll into Washington High School.
Baseball isn’t dead in the African-American community. It just went in hibernation. Within 10 years, you will notice an influx of African-Americans competing at the collegiate level. There are currently less than 6% of African-Americans competing at the NCAA level. Every problem creates an opportunity and L.E.A.D. will continue to be a solution in Atlanta. Check our stats at LEAD2Legacy.org.