Updated: Jul 1, 2019
Continued from the LinkedIn post I did this morning; From the beginning; Its worth the read I promise....
My heart hurts this morning after I talked with a friend of mine who informed me that due to a lack of leadership they were forced to cancel their Upwards Sports ministry program. They could not get their church members to step up and help with the program. First let me say that I believe leadership is an incorrect word. It was due to a lack of volunteers. I can teach leadership, I can Shepard those who will step up. And rolls can be made to require less effort and commitment.
This is a more common issue than you might think and it is effecting every aspect of our lives. Don't get me started on that road, well be here all day. More than 300 youth showed up to participate and the current director was overwhelmed by the response and when he reached out for help it did not come. My first knee jerk reaction is to scream, Where are the real men? But that might not be completely fair.
You see its programs like Upwards Sports that teach us the importance of volunteering to serve your community. Maybe these men had never been exposed to this attitude before. I know my children volunteer to serve youth and I expect it is because they have always seen the example I have set. No I am not perfect and I don't have all the answers, but I do serve and my children have seen it clearly and the results. We are a product of our environments. Don't like the way your children are acting, change the environment. I learned long ago, when a 10 year old go to school cussing and acting out, he did not think this up all on his/her own. they see it around them at home or in the neighborhood etc.
I was proudest when someone called me to inform me that a former player of mine was not playing college ball or pro ball but in fact was coaching a youth team. I still coach today, I have a 11 & 12 year old boys rec team as we speak. I teach them how a god athlete is a good student, a good brother/sister, a good family team member, good is not just for the court but for your walk in life. Good grades, good attitude, good morals and ethics.
I pray with my teams, I don't force them to, I invite them to. Often I will invite them to share the prayer and am always blessed when they do. You would be surprised how many times my teams have reminded me when its time to pray. But I digress, lets get back to the subject at hand. A program that is intended to serve the 300+ families in our community was canceled because adults were not stepping up to help.
I'm going to take the higher road and think that maybe others have not experienced what it is to serve and volunteer, or that maybe they were not aware there was such a dire need for help. Clearly there was and like so many of our churches, we see people doing the work so we just don't step up, we don't think of how tired and weary they may be.
What does all this mean? you see there are programs for young people out there. They can play school ball, if they are one of the elite and can make the team. I was told at one school and I believe this is more the norm and not the exception, some 70 children tried out for the dozen spots for their school basketball team. Some counties have eliminated underclassmen teams and thereby reducing the number of spots available. (Costs)
If you can afford it you can sign them up for camps and travel ball teams where they will get some skills training and plenty of opportunity to play games and tournaments, However again its a win mentality and the best will be treated to the most playing time. But don't get me wrong I am all for this avenue if you have the means, they will help you develop an athlete. Be watchful and selective on what coaches your child is exposed to.
They can play recreational ball with most counties, where all will play and all will get a share of the playing time, however the instructional portion tends to suffer with great limits of facilities and again volunteers. Coaches tend to be a players parent and may have limited knowledge. But I thank them all for stepping up. I am coaching in this program now and we will have only 3 practice sessions before we play our first game. Varsity players, 11 & 12 years old need more instructional time to develop good habits. This is a great limitation to these programs.
However, you can typically identify from rec ball players who can thrive in a travel ball world and who will not. Maybe your young athlete might do well to have some private one on one coaching to reach his/her next level? But what of that player that has just not yet grown into their bodies. We all know people like that, if it wasn't us growing up we knew someone, right? What of the family with several children and can't afford to send them all to travel ball clubs? I guess rec ball can fill the need, or can it?
Upward Sports is designed to reach the entire family for Christ through Sports. It is by design an all round training for the mind, body and soul. It is also a place where an athlete can get some very good training to play ball and grow into the men and women they want to be. Even after sports is no longer an option. Because that always comes. To some they never really got started, others play middle and maybe high school and then they are done, the blessed go on to play college and the elite can even go pro, but sooner or later it will be over.
Did you know more than 80% of all professional athletes end up broke? Did you know that even though they are in the spotlight the NFL has 2466 per 100k players arrested and the NBA 2157 per 100k for crimes small and large, even murder? Everyone of their stories are different but I can't help but feel that if only we had started the journey in a better place, maybe...
Why do I share this with you, because I think its all related. If we were to do a better job with our young athletes helping them to see how they need to be better men and women first, many of these other issues would be greatly reduced. We can't skip gym class and hope it all goes away. At the very least the example should improve the volunteer rate as the athlete see adults stepping up, it will only be natural for them to do the same at some point.
So what say you? Do we continue to set back and let others decide for us who gets to play or not? Or are you ready to step up and help make a difference moving forward? What can you do, well I don't know. We can start by sharing the need. Then we can approach our church families and see if they want to be involved. Better still convince them they do need to be involved. Lets come together as a community to solve this simple issue. We can do this as big or as small as someone wants but you cannot stop what God will do. When Upwards came to Shallotte I'm betting they had no idea they would have this problem that so many would show up. But God clearly blessed the program and the peoples efforts and it became what He wanted it to be.
Now it is God not I calling to you to step up and do your part, no matter how big or how small the part. I wrote this message, (the big part), you can share it, the little part. But we need both pats, Amen? I'll go so far as to say, and I don't know the position of the church that was hosting Upwards, they may not want to continue at all. But If not I will take the roll of being the go to place where the community can offer their services and we will do all God sets before us to do.
So if you have a church, even if they do not have a facility but you have the desire to do more, touch base with me and we can pray about this together. I have done this before, I can make this very simple, bite size pieces so no one has to be overwhelmed or fell alone. I bet that if we were to put a group of volunteers together and approach them they will be excited to have the help and to do for God as well. Share this blog and let see where it leads us and I will pray blessings on all who do.