"Playing for the City: Sports-based Leadership Development"
presented by Jeff and Turan at the University of Charleston
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I want to thank God for giving me great friends that knew we had a mission to help the community—through the good and the bad we stuck together to make sure that everyone was on the same path, that no one was left out. I played basketball in high school and then at Job Corps. That year I also coached younger kids in the community with Midian. It felt like the bonds got stronger just having [the young men] around, and I see those guys, they wanna be just like us, it just makes me proud, showing that we are trying to do the right thing, and trying to show them that they can do the right thing, too. Even when we aren’t all physically together, we are organized to help make better things happen, no matter who gets the credit. That’s nothing but God.
it’s not just about us—it’s about the others behind us who are striving to do even better than us. We want them to see things that are even bigger—we want our community to be a place that is great for everyone. I feel like we are different because we make sure that even the people who don’t have much, we want them to feel mutual respect with us, that no one is left out.
We’ve built a foundation together. The culture we are trying to set is that everyone can be around us. They can feel safe, and they don’t have to be anything but themselves. That’s why we have the Midian Leadership Project.
Playing high school football built a lot of character and leadership in me. It taught me that I didn't get my talents from myself, I got them from God. Playing at West Virginia Wesleyan took me out of my comfort zone, where I didn't know everyone. My first day of class, people were kind of shy and standoffish, and I thought to myself, "Do I really even need to talk to anyone? I could just be quiet too. But then I thought: “Nah, people need friends!” And so I went outside by comfort zone and started being a friend.
The most important thing that me and my friends have is trust. We grew up together and we built a relationship off of each others personalities. We don’t like unfinished business. When something needs to get done, we get it done.
I had always wanted to help the younger generation when I got older. I had been going to camp since I was in seventh grade, and it helped me work through hard times when I was younger. I came back as a counselor, and talking to the kids and helping them work through things, it didn't just help them--it helped me get closer to God. Church, camp, service trips, taught me how to love people. Love brings everyone together. I was always taught from the Bible by my parents and grandparents, to love everyone, no matter their race or background or anything about them. We have a lot planned—it’s not set in stone, of course—but in the end, when we come together, it will change people’s perspective of this community, of how we are built.