Reclaiming youth sports

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    Mark Henry poses with some of the participants
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    Mark Henry and Lacey Henderson
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    Joe Dumars speaks to the crowd
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    Lance Blanks and PCA-Austin Executive Director, Trennis Jones.

Stars line up to teach young athletes how to compete with class

Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA)-Central Texas recently teamed up with the University of Texas Division of Diversity & Community Engagement to host “Reclaiming Youth Sports.” The goal of the event was to motivate, empower, and challenge young athletes to be successful while competing with integrity. Celebrities Joe Dumars (namesake of the NBA’s Sportsmanship Award), Mark Henry (WWE Hall of Famer), Lacey Henderson (Paralympian, 2016 Paralympic Games), and Lance Blanks (former Phoenix Suns GM, Texas Longhorn standout) led the way in working with young athletes at the event.

In a stadium club-filled room at DKR Memorial Stadium, best friends Dumars and Blanks talked about growing up as young athletes. Dumars revealed how growing up the youngest of seven helped shape his illustrious NBA career.

Students in attendance were curious to know if Dumars was really the only NBA player who could defend Michael Jordan.

“Jordan thrived on guys who came out and talked (trash),” Dumars said. “I made a decision early that no matter what he did on the court, good, bad or indifferent, I wasn’t going to react.”

Dumars, Henry and Henderson, three athletic greats from three different generations, all had the identical message for the nearly 200 attendees in the room – “it all starts at home.”

“Be humble. Be humble. Be humble. I heard this every day at home,” said Dumars. “I don’t want kids to think being humble means you can’t be a fierce competitor. You can be both.”

Other topics covered by Henry and Henderson included overcoming adversity and developing a never-quit attitude. As Henry so powerfully expressed, “You cannot look in your coach’s face ever again and say, ‘I’m tired. I’m hurt. I don’t want to do it,’” he said. “Lacey lost a leg. Challenge yourselves as athletes from today on to be better. I want PRs from you guys. This is an Olympic athlete with one leg.”

This event, unlike any other, was not just celebrity driven. PCA led breakout sessions with athletes, coaches, and parents, with PCA trainers leading the sessions. Specifically, the entire football program from Travis High School participated. PCA has recently partnered with AISD Athletics and Travis for “Elevating the Bar”, a Character and Leadership Development program embedded within the school’s football and volleyball teams. “Elevating the Bar” extends classroom learning and life lessons to the field/court to develop a healthier competitive culture at Travis.

Article by Trennis Jones and photos by Riley Blanks