To My Pace #OneDawg Boys C/O 2017!

To Boo Boo (Barrett Baker), PP (Parker Payne), Lil General (Mark Sommerville), and Tiny (Wendell Carter Jr.),

Well, Well, Well….. Time sure does fly fellas!

February 25, 2015 was a night that defined our hunger for greatness on the court.  That was the night we lost to Vidalia.  A night and a feeling I will never forget.  I distinctly remember Z saving the picture of Vidalia celebrating on his cell phone and telling me, “Coach, this will never happen again.”

We had worked so hard that season to re-establish the CULTURE of Pace basketball and we were RIGHT THERE!  It was ours to have and we let it slip.  However, the way you young men stuck together over the last couple years to finish what you started has been nothing short of poetic!  I have the privilege of seeing it from the start!  2014-15 was the season that started it all!  27-3!  Man we had some BIG TIME games:  1.  Scat’s game winner against HIES 2. Caleb’s game winner against GAC in the Regional Finals after the refs tried foul Wendell out of the game in the first qtr (I bet Wendell still remembers that).  3.  Wendell dunking on Jules Erving at home and running in place LOL!  4.  Having the ENTIRE Inman Center packed to the rafters for State!!  Then came 2015-16. You guys started 2-8 and the entire State doubted you!  However, you all trusted the process and continued to put the WE over the ME!  Thomasville had no idea what was about to hit them.  There was NO WAY we were going to lose another Elite 8 game.  You all DESTROYED them!  It was beautiful!  From that point on, it was pretty academic!  I loved nothing more than seeing Barrett and Mark running the show and thriving in the Championship game when it mattered the most!  To see Wendell play like the All American he is made me feel like proud big brother!  30pts 20rebs!  Sheesh Big Dog!    I was there front and center and had goosebumps man!  You all got that deal done and now we are back!  Championship time!

I told Mark a couple weeks ago that you all are LIVING LEGENDS and I mean that.  What you all have done together is special!  Parker is going to UNC, Barrett to Michigan, Wendell to Duke and Mark, you are still figuring things out but I know you will make the right decision.  Wherever life takes you guys, don’t ever forget each other and what you did on West Paces Ferry because it will go down in history in the Buckhead community.  Remember, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”  I am just blessed to have been a small part of it!  I’m very proud of you boys!  I will be there front and center AGAIN to watch you go #BACK2BACK!  This was written simply to show my appreciation to you all as well as the others who have moved on!  My guys Sheft, Swain, Scat, Z, Mick, Kyle and JayBo you know I got love for you too!

#OneDawg #RTNO #GiveUsOurRespect #YallReadyToWin

Love you boys,

Coach T

EMUNAH: Hebrew Word for Faith

I wanted to share something that blessed me during my devotion this morning.  It is a devotional about faith!!

Please read below:

EMUNAH: Which means FAITH

When I first started following God, I thought faith was an intellectual decision – I knew there was a God, so therefore I had faith. But the Hebrew word for ‘faith’ – emunah – is less about KNOWING, and more about DOING.

‘Emunah’ literally means “to take firm action”, so to have faith is to act. It’s kinda like a staircase; you may intellectually know the stairs go up to the next level, but until you climb the stairs you won’t experience the next level. What you do is more important than what you know. Don’t just believe in the stairs, climb the stairs.

What would you need to change today to ensure your faith was defined by what you did, instead of what you know?

This ideal came from James Chapter 2!

Have a great day my friends!

FAITH OVER FEAR!

-Coach T

 

 

Built For Basketball: ALO’s Journey

Alex Lomax ALO

After the highly coveted Nike Peach Jam Finals in Augusta, SC last weekend, Class of 2018 PG Alex “ALO” Lomax (Memphis East HS/Team Penny)  earned scholarship offers from The University of Memphis,University of Florida, LSU (Louisiana State University), University of Tennessee at Martin, Seton Hall University,  Temple University, University of Massachusetts, and Ole Miss (University of Mississippi).  This is a tremendous accomplishment!  However, what is more impressive to me is ALO’s journey.  Take a walk with me for a second and let me show you what HARD and FAIR WORK looks like and where it gets you.

ALO was born and raised in a small and gritty neighborhood in the city of Memphis.  The neighborhood is called Binghampton, the same neighborhood where I grew up.  He was raised in an apartment complex called Eastern Heights Apartments or as we like to call it “Johnson Circle”.  This is the same apartment complex I grew up as a kid.  In fact, ALO lived directly behind me.  ALO, just like many other young men in the Binghampton community WORSHIPPED basketball.  However, he unlike many of us worked his way into becoming known nationally as one of the BEST PG’s in the country.

WHY?

Some may wonder, why am I writing about this kid?  Is it only because he is from my neighborhood?  No.  I am writing because his journey is refreshing and it hits closer to home because he is from my neighborhood.  I am so proud of him.  So here we go:

As an AAU, middle school, and high school basketball coach, I feel that I look at the game a lot different than other coaches and players.  People call me old school.  I do not buy into what’s sexy now about the sport.  The fancy dribbling, the high flying dunks, throwing up hand signs after every three point shot, the colorful shoes, nike elite socks, camouflage tights, etc.  I don’t care about any of that.  I care about hard nosed, hard working players who are winners.  I care about guys who play defense, respect their coaches, respect their teammates, respect their parents, and respect their opponents.  However, every year I get reaffirmed that most scouts, coaches, recruiters, experts don’t feel the same way.  They look for the sexy kids.  The kids with all of the swagger, the kids with the “machine/hype” behind them.  The kids with 100 highlight videos.  The kids who have bounced around school to school, travel team to travel team (because it is the coach’s fault).  They are always looking for the quick fix.  However, they get rewarded for these unhealthy actions.  I have seen this happen way too many times, especially in Atlanta (where I now reside) and it is THE MOST FRUSTRATING thing because at the end of the day, it negatively affects our youth.

This is not the case with ALO.  ALO has stayed true to his principles.  He played for Lester Middle School (our neighborhood middle school) and won three Tennessee state titles under the leadership of the great Desmond Merriweather (RIP) and Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway .  As a freshman in high school at Memphis East he led his Varsity Basketball team to the State Semifinals in the highest class AAA.  His sophomore year he led his team back to the State tournament and won the State Championship.  He was MVP of that tournament and he was also voted Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year Mr. Basketball as a sophomore.  He played for the Team Penny AAU organization and his Class of 2018 team had been successful every single year. But guess what, after all of those accomplishments, ALO still had NO OFFERS from any colleges.  I’m talking D1, D2, D3.  No offers.  One of the most accomplished basketball players in the country had no offers.  Why you may ask?  Because he wasn’t the sexy player.  ALO stands at 5’10/5’11.  He doesn’t jack up threes when he crosses half court.  He doesn’t try to put on a show and dribble the ball  800 times before he passes to an open teammate.   No, ALO plays the RIGHT WAY.  He talks on defense.  He takes charges.  He dives on the floor for loose balls.  He’s a leader, he’s a dog, he’s a winner.  He will not score 40pts in a game while attempting 40 shots.  No, he is going to lead his team to victory.  I had the privilege to coach CP3 National Middle School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina for three years.  In 2014, I had the privilege to invite ALO to this camp and I was so excited to see him compete.  He was in 8th grade. Now, we have three all star games at this camp:  the Dunk Dog All American Game, the Top 20 Game, and the Top 40 game.  This is a total of 60 players.  Yes, you guessed it, ALO was not selected for ANY of the all star games much to my chagrin.  I went to bat for ALO to make at least one of the games, but the “experts” were not having it.  I remember texting ALO, letting him know that his time would come, just keep doing it the right way.

Also, that summer, I was able to be a group leader and take a group of 50 kids to “Kids Across America” (an urban Christian Camp) in Golden, Missouri.  One of those kids was ALO.  I spent that entire week staying in his ear.  Letting him know that he had somebody on the outside looking in that loved him.  A REAL man that loves him.  That week, he grew as a young man spiritually.  He was a leader in his cabin, and won a leadership award at the end of the week.  That was THE MOST REWARDING experience for me.  This went beyond basketball.  That was a moment I will always cherish.  He learned some things that week that he can carry along for the rest of his life.

ALO Grandmother

Now, let’s fast forward to last weekend in Augusta.  Twitter was blowing up for ALO.  So many “experts” claimed to have never heard of ALO.  How could you not have heard about Mr. Basketball in Tennessee?  However, as he had always done, ALO did it the right way.  He was a leader, he made tough shots, he set up his teammates in half court offense, he looked up the court in transition for easy baskets, and most importantly he made played TOUGH and HARD NOSED defense against some of the best guards in the country  He stuck with the same program.  He stuck with his coach.  He stuck with his school.  He was a leader.  He had faith that GOD had his back and the results showed.  He didn’t look for the easy way out, he didn’t jump team to team.  And when it was all said and done, the college offers came rolling in!  Salute to you Mr. Alex Lomax!  You are one of the very FEW young men who did it the right way.  I hope your peers read this and realize that the old fashion way still works.  In fact, I hope coaches and parents all over the country read this and realize the same thing.  Please do not cheat your children!!  Allow to experience the sweet taste of success through hard earned sacrifice.  This was ALO’s journey!

Shout out to Lester Community Center!  Shout out to Jeanita Davis!  Shout out to Walter Cleveland Casey!  Shout out to the deceased Desmond “DEZ” Merriweather!  Shout out to his deceased Grandmother!  Shout out to Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway!  All of these individuals have led ALO on this journey and they deserve to be recognized!

ALO Kid

BINGHAMPTON!  Much Love! Much Respect!  Til the day that I die!

BUILT FOR BASKETBALL!!

FAITH OVER FEAR!

Coach T signing off! Fearless!

 

 

The Power of Decision Making

As a first year career teacher, it was important for me to take out time every now and then to talk to my kids about life.  One thing I focused on all of the time was CHOICES and DECISION MAKING.  These two words would arise if kids decided to be lazy and turn in homework late or decided to study at the last minute and fail one of my tests or quizzes.  I would use these situations as opportunities to talk about life to try to nail in how important it is to make the right choices (something that we adults still struggle with today).

Coach T Childrens Book 4So of course with me being an open book, let us take a look at some of the life altering decisions/choices I have a had to make so far in my young life.

  1. Accepting Christ into my heart – There will never be a more important decision that accepting Christ into your heart.  I confessed with my mouth that I believe Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins when I was 6 years old and I was baptized.  Best day of my life and it will always be the best day of my life.
  2. Undergraduate – I chose to leave the great city of Memphis, TN after high school to attend Morehouse College.  This decision enabled me to meet my wife, my fraternity chapter, close friends and it allowed me to navigate Atlanta ultimately influencing me to stay here.
  3. Job Choice – Arguably the next biggest decision I ever made was deciding to intern at Turner Broadcasting System, Inc instead of accepting the full time job at JP Morgan Chase (I had offers in Columbus, OH – Chicago, IL – New York City, New York.  This decision was solely made to stay close to my girlfriend at the time.  She was still at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA.  I took a risk and it paid off as I eventually got the full time job AND I got the wife LOL!
  4. Quitting My Job at TBS and My Own Company – The day life started over for me was July 2, 2013 when I quit my job at Turner Broadcasting System, Inc as a Financial Analyst and quit a company that I founded, named, branded and built from the ground up “T-12 Entertainment”.  I gave all rights to my business partner.  After these two drastic and life changing moves, I decided to follow my passion which was mentoring youth through the game of basketball.  This change has opened so many doors and eventually enabled me to do what I’m doing right now!  TEACHING

The moral of the story is YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE!  People will always doubt your moves and decisions but you have to be honest with yourself and do what not only makes you happy but what makes you the best person you can be.  Trust me, I make bad decisions all of the time and I pay for them but it is good to highlight some of the decisions that has paid GREAT dividends for my life and my future.!

THE POWER OF DECISION MAKING!

Signing Off!

Faith Over Fear,

Coach T

Brain Stretch Quotes

One of my proudest moments during the school year was creating a warm up exercise that was practiced everyday during the school year.  This warm up exercise is called “Brain Stretch Quotes” or BSQ’s.

Brain Stretch Quotes consist of me writing a different quote on the whiteboard every class.  The students know to write down the quote as soon as they take their seats and get settled in.  After every student has copied down the brain stretch quote from the board, we then as a class discuss what the quote means to us.  This exercise has created a lot of deep discussions that cause our students to think critically about their lives, current events and past events.

The kids started to enjoy BSQ’s so much that they began to provide their own quotes!!  As a teacher, it was humbling to see the kids be invested in their class environment.  I even had a kid to purchase a book of quotes and bring it to me on the last day of school.  Those are the precious moments that make this teaching thing so worthwhile!  Culture is everything, environment is everything, expectations is everything.  Go forth fellow teachers!!

Below are some examples of the brain stretch quotes we discussed in class this past school year:

Friday, August 14

“Nothing of me is original, I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.”

-Chuck Palahniuk

 

Wednesday, August 18

“Nothing’s impossible because the word is I’m possible.”

-Audrey Hepburn

 

Thursday, August 20

“If it is important to you, you will find a way, if it is NOT important to you, you will make an excuse.”        -Author Unknown

 

Monday, August 24

“The best way to predict the future , is to create it”

-Peter Drucker

 

Wednesday, August 26

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising everytime we fall.”

-Confucius

Friday, August 28

“Freedom is not worth having, if you don’t have freedom to make mistakes.”

-William Lavender

 

Tuesday, September 1

“99% of ALL failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses.”

 

Wednesday, September 9

“Do something today that your future self will thank you for.”

-Author Unknown

 

Monday, September 14

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting,dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before

-Edgar Allan Poe

 

Wednesday, September 16

“Everybody can be great, because everybody can SERVE!”

-A new definition of greatness-

 

Signing off!

Faith Over Fear,

Coach T

 

 

 

Loving Your Students

Do you teach because it is your job or do you teach because you love nurturing and developing kids?  Is it something you live for everyday or is it something that makes you drag out of your bed?  I am so lucky to be 31 and to be a 2nd year teacher.  It has rejuvenated my entire life.  Hey, I would even dare to say it makes me feel young again LOL!  So today, I would like for you to peruse my collection of pictures that symbolizes the love I have for my students.  We literally had a BLAST!!  From the awkward first couple of weeks to tears of sweet memories on the last day, those kids changed my life.  GOD called me to invest in the future and I take that job very seriously.  I don’t deserve to have a job that I love so much but I am very fortunate.  Please take this journey with me!

I miss my kids terribly and I will miss them even more next year!  However, I can not WAIT to develop new memories, new relationships, and new bonds with the next bunch!  New growth opportunities to come!

Coach T signing off!

Faith Over Fear,

Coach T

 

 

Authentic Leadership

      Authentic Leadership

In Grade 6 Social Studies this past school year, one topic we revisited several times was “Authentic Leadership”.  What makes a leader authentic?  What leaders in the past and present exhibit qualities of an authentic leader?  What authentic leaders embodied the Mount Vernon mindsets?

So, what is authentic leadership?

“Several things are at risk when you are an authentic leader : you’re risking setting yourself apart from the mediocrity of the generic. On the other side of things, by choosing not to take the generic road, and by allowing your leadership to rise from within, you’re risking going beyond what you or anyone else thought you were capable of.”

-http://spokenwordsolutions.com/authentic-leadership-2/

Below is a list of people I feel are Authentic Leaders:

Martin Luther King Jr.

MLK Jr

Coach Ken Carter

Coach Carter

Coach John Wooden

Coach John Wooden

Malala Yousafzai

Malala

Shirley Chisholm

Shirley_Chisholm

Authentic Leaders are indeed PIONEERS!!  Coach T signing off!!

Faith Over Fear,

Coach T

 

Thematic Classes Is the Way To Go

This year in my Grade 6 Social Studies class, we focused on the Rise and Fall of Empires in Ancient History.  Sounds pretty straight forward right?  When you think of Ancient Historic empires, you think of Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Ancient China, etc.  However, this year we decided to look at these empires through different lens.  It was decided to make this year’s classic a thematic course.  This means that we would learn the same information about the empires but it would be with a focus on a certain theme.  The theme for my class this year was PIONEER.  Therefore, we changed the name of the course to the PIONEER COURSE.Civilizations

Making this a thematic class provided an avenue for me link the historical content to modern life and I truly believe it allowed my students to retain information a lot better and it made the class much more interesting.  Our main focus for the school year was the Pioneer Formula which was Pioneer = Identity + Innovation + Legacy.  With every empire we had to discover and discuss how the civilization during that time exuded all three of those topics:

  1.  What was their identity?
  2. What was their innovation?
  3. What legacy did they leave?

These three questions not only enabled students grasp content at a higher level but it provided several opportunities for them to compare and contrast empires.  It also created the stage for heated yet informative and productive class debates.  What I loved most about this thematic course is that it allowed me to relate our lessons of ancient empires to our modern day lives.  At any given moment I could ask a kid how a certain decision or situation from an ancient civilization related to them.  Questions would arise like,  “Was there ever a situation where you felt you had to make a tough decision like Julius Caesar?”  “Was there ever a situation where you had to stand true to your values  despite what others thought like Siddartha?”

I can’t wait to dig deeper next year as I plan to aggressively align the content with everyday life.  Again, I must say Mount Vernon Presbyterian School is on its way to being something special for our youth!  Coach T signing off!

Faith Over Fear,

Coach T

 

The Power of Influence

I grew up in Memphis, TN in a tough neighborhood called Binghampton (the same neighborhood as Penny Hardaway just to put a celebrity touch on it lol).  Where I was raised, there was poverty, prostitution, gang violence, teenage pregnancy, high school dropouts, high frequency in murder, drug trafficking, etc.  However, there was also one thing that existed in my neighborhood that stood above the rest……… LOVE!!  We had leaders in our community that worked at Lester Community Center (the neighborhood rec center) who simply wouldn’t let the circumstances of our neighborhood completely ruin the youth.  Walter Cleveland Casey, Alice Jeanita Davis, Sandra Mabon (my mother), Gloria Collins, Joe Redmond, Stephanie Williams, Coach Reginald Mosby, Icy Mae Franklin, Kim Bonner, and a host of other leaders stood tall for YEARS ensuring there would be some sort of order to our troubled community.

However, in the fall of 1997 something special happened.  Something amazing happened.  Something of GOD happened.  A man named Roy “Soup” Campbell opened his heart to GOD and GOD led him to the Binghampton community.  Soup’s job was to bring love and the POWER OF GOD to our neighborhood.  Things after this would never be the same.  Soup brought Eikon Ministries to our community.  Eikon Ministries is an urban outreach ministry geared towards teenagers.  Eikon is the reason why I am who I am today.  At the tender age of 13 they took me along with 49 other kids from the community to an Urban Christian Camp in Golden, Missouri called “Kids Across America”.  This camp changed my life forever.  They stressed several different principles that stick with me to this day:

  1.  GOD 1st. OTHERS 2nd. I’M 3rd.
  2. Abstinence Til Marriage (A.T.M.)
  3. Salvation is free

Below is a picture of my mentor Roy “Soup” Campbell.  Soup

Soup being sensitive to GOD’s calling allowed all of us to be blessed in ways unimagined.  Because of Soup’s obedience I was able to stay abstinent for much longer than ANY of my friends (and that kept me out of a lot of trouble).  Because of Soup’s obedience I was unafraid to come back to school and share the good news of the things I had learned and as a result, a few of my friends came to Christ.  Because of Soup, I am able to share some of these same principles with my students and basketball players and later on my son.  It is amazing what happens when you follow the only true and right leader.  PRAISE GOD!!!

THE POWER OF INFLUENCE!!!

Faith Over Fear,

Coach T

FAIL UP!!

As a teacher at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School in Sandy Springs, Georgia, I learned a concept that truly stuck to me as soon as I heard it.  The concept is “FAIL UP!”.  This is something that Mount Vernon preaches to their kids and staff everyday.  We stress that a failure doesn’t define you.  In fact, it should ENCOURAGE you to try even harder.  In my devotional this morning, the same message was delivered and it touched me.  Therefore, I wanted to share it.  Please read an excerpt below from the devotional today:

BELIEVE FAITH

“In his book, Winning Smart After Losing Big, entrepreneur Rob Stearns echoes this perspective regarding his own failures. Stearns writes that there’s a big difference between experiencing a failure and being a failure: “You are the same person after your loss as you were before your loss.” It is strength of character that enables us to get up and keep moving when we’ve failed.

But where do we find strength to move forward? Paul freely acknowledged that such strength is not native to his soul. It came to him from Christ. “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13, NIV). Hardships and failures taught the apostle to ask for strength. He learned to “fail forward” into the everlasting arms of God.”

Whatever it is you are trying to achieve…. GO GET IT!!! Do not let anything stand in your way because if it aligns with GOD’s plan, he has your back!!  There is no one better to have in your corner!

Faith Over Fear,

Coach T