I have been developing elite level hitters for more than 21 years. And I would have to admit that Antonio Pierce was one of the least talented athletes I have ever coached.
Before I explain, let me define a couple words I used in the above description.
Coach is something you do to get people from a place of being to a place of becoming. Talent is something that you do well.
Before the word coach was used in the context of sports, it was reserved strictly for transportation. There was a horse, a coachman (who controlled the horse) and a coach where the passengers rested. A coach took you to where you were supposed to be. Today, that doesn’t happen as much because too often there is a fear of accountability.
Talent is the beginning. It is followed by habits and skills. Black boys mistakenly want to be called talented. Unfortunately, they don’t realize that talent is really starting at the bottom. That’s the reason reading is such a fundamental tool.
Habits are things that you do well repeatedly without thought, while skills are the things that you do well repeatedly without thought while under stress.
We all know the saying: Skills pays the bills.
Antonio Pierce will graduate from the New Schools at Carver (Atlanta) in spring 2019. When he does, he will be the first in his immediate family to do so. L.E.A.D. has partnered with Antonio’s family since he was in the eighth grade. It has used its proven Pathway To Empowerment Methodology to move Antonio and hundreds of Atlanta Public Schools Black boys grades sixth through 12, per year.
Today, Antonio is signing a commitment letter to Savannah State University, where he will be a student-athlete in baseball beginning in fall 2019. Here are some of his thoughts on his progression:
I joined to better my circumstances at home, in my neighborhood and to better myself.
What are other opportunities that you could have have joined in the eighth grade?
None. There’s wasn’t anyone who was offering me what L.E.A.D. had to offer.
On a scale of 1-10, what was your baseball talent level when you joined L.E.A.D.?
How many times have you considered dropping out of L.E.A.D. since you joined?
Why did you stay?
Because I needed the opportunity and exposure. Because my family and community needs me. I stayed because L.E.A.D. was and still is my performance enhancer. It also delivered on all of its promises.
What world problem do you want to solve?
I want to solve poverty.
What have you learned from L.E.A.D. that will help you solve that world problem?
I have learned that everyone doesn’t want your help. You have to help the people who want your help. It’s my job and responsibility to help my community.