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“Keep Your Eyes on the Target”

While waiting for my car to be serviced, I had an interesting conversation with a man in his mid-50’s about mentoring.  He never knew his father, but channeled all of his energy into helping young African-American boys excel academically, instead of in sports. Assisting them with getting accepted into, and graduating from college, as well as remaining available to them in adulthood has been his passion for years.  He has single-handedly changed the lives of hundreds of boys simply by caring enough about the next generation.

He shared that he didn’t allow the effects of his own absentee father to negatively affect him. So when he became a father to his own son, he poured all he had into him. Feeling a bit selfish and compassionate for the rest of the fatherless boys in his son’s circle of friends, he began coaching a baseball team. He used the techniques of a pitcher as a metaphor for life.  Upon entry to the team, he provided careful instructions for the boys on throwing the baseball through the hole of a tire several feet away.  He asked, “Do you see how large that hole is?  Chances are you will throw the ball through it with every try.  You may hit the sides a few times, but as long as you continue to aim for the target, you’ll eventually get it through every time.  Just KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE TARGET!”

I was struck by the overwhelming passion in his voice and eyes as he spoke. It was apparent that even though he claimed to not be affected by his childhood, he was clearly living his life based on what HE lacked. Despite his circumstances, he graduated from college and spent time as a semi-pro baseball player. He was having his car serviced for a road trip visit to surprise his own son, a junior in college.

Interestingly enough, his coaching the baseball team was NOT to encourage the boys to seek a career in professional sports. It was simply a way to connect with them on their level.  Engaging them in something they loved to do opened up the lines of communication, and allowed him to teach and encourage academic excellence, life-long learning, and overall moral and personal success.

This brings to mind Chicago’s Urban Prep Academy.  They continue to graduate entire classes of African-American male students!  Even more commendable, 100% of them are accepted into college!  What a huge statement to make for all of those who come after them.  The high standards have been clearly set for future students to emulate.

I refuse to believe our black males are a lost generation.  With more men like the baseball mentor and schools like Chicago’s Urban Prep Academy, we are certainly headed in the right direction.  Are you willing to help another young person on the path to success?

Our focus is Positive Messages for Women and Girls. But I have a personally vested interest in the lives of our African-American men. I am married to an amazing one, they will be our leaders of tomorrow, and possibly my son-in-law!

 

Happily married mother of 2 fabulous daughters. CEO & Designer of Shootie Girl™ Custom Rhinestone Apparel. Former government and global software giant manager turned work-from-home mom and National Director of Social Media and Blogging for a national non-profit moms organization.
Shootie Girl
 

6 Responses

  1. This is GREAT!!! LaShaun you are so right there is hope for Black men. It is great to see a blackman using sport to mentor. I admire you and your husband please know that you life is mentoring other as well. This is a GREAT read very inspiring!!!! Mogul Up!!

  2. I wish there were more men like the one you wrote about. He has angel’s wings!! Thank you for the mentoring that you do! Chicago’s Urban Prep Academy sounds amazing.
    Thank you so much for sharing!
    Blessings,
    ~Erin

  3. Kuae

    You are so right LaShaun. All things happen for a reason. You were not next to him by accident…most assuredly you are the messenger to spread his good words and deeds. Great post!

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