Good Day Sports Fans !!!!
As a young kid coming up in the heart of New York City (Staten Island), in a single parent home with 2 siblings, I was fortunate to have been blessed with God giving ability to play sports. When my dad was at home with me, we used to put the helmets on (Baseball & Football) and get that work in. My Dad was a Semi-Pro Baseball player who played in 1 of the best leagues in NYC in Central Park. My dad used to get paid under the table to come to play each Sunday. I used to enjoy going to the games with him. I’d pack my glove, bat, batting gloves and my bag. I was READY, each and every Sunday. Life was Great !!!
As time progressed, my parents couldn’t weather the storm a marriage brings and my dad bailed. It was a tough time for me and my younger siblings. I took it the hardest because I’m the only boy and I was the closest to my dad. I missed our Sunday sports days …. Soup, Sandwiches, Chips, Pickles and Soda.
Now, my neighborhood wasn’t bad. There were No Shootings or out of control drug use or drug selling. It was a Nice neighborhood, where all the parents worked hard & a lot were single just like my mother. My neighborhood produced Athletes, Entertainers and Productive People In Society Overall …. Demetrius Dotson (All-City-NYC WR Curtis H.S. Staten Island. NY & UVA) Dewan Reeves (All-City-NYC-DE Curtis H.S. & University of Rhode Island) Cassel Smith (All-City-NYC- RB Tottenville H.S. Staten Island, NY & University of West Virginia) Just to name a few. We were Good kids, coming from Good homes and stable lives. My Mother worked her tail off to ensure that we were Ok as kids & whatever we didn’t have, she went out & got it for us, as long as we earned it.
As much as my mother was disappointed with my dad, I was to young to understand what was going on in the home. I do recall the night my dad left the house. It was late and I woke up due to loud talking and items being thrown around. I remember clear as day seeing my dad leaving the front door, me running to him, my mother trying to stop me & me giving my dad his baseball glove and telling him Papi (Dad in Spanish) you can’t play without your glove. The face he made when I looked in his eyes was a look I will NEVER Forget. He knew at that time that he wouldn’t be seeing his Only Son for some time !!!
I gave my mother hell throughout the transition. The 1 thing that My Mother seen in me that My Dad had was True Athletic ability !!! She seen the same ting that My Dad has seen in me. I spent years begging My Mother to put me in organized sports, however with the financial strain of raising 3 kids on her own and no assistance, it was TOUGH !!! I spent years playing in the school yard and in the neighborhood. My Mother actually got to see me in action and was like …. Yeah, I have to get this kid involved in some sports.
8th Grade Year (1990), My Mother was able to get me signed up to play organized football. Staten Island Pee Wee was the name of the league. This league was predominantly white in a predominantly white neighborhood. I was raised NOT to see color & I didn’t. The only color I cared about was the color of the football, Brown !!! I played for the Verrazano Vikings (Green, Yellow & White) number 3 was my number. I was smiling from Ear-to-Ear !!! I haven’t played organized ball before so some of the rules were new to me. I adapted very well to my team, rules & the game. I was seriously undersized at 4’9 115 pounds, however I had tremendous speed, hands were awesome and my love for the game was like no other at a young age.
It was at this moment, that I knew Sports was going to raise me when My Mother couldn’t. I embraced practice, I loved learning and getting better. I didn’t like to lose as any kid or athlete. I would be upset that I wasn’t getting the ball as much as I wanted, I mean I barely touched the ball, as my team would run the ball 44 times per game. Grant it we did have a Horse for a Running Back. I just believed that I could’ve done what he was doing too, as long as an opportunity was given. Finally, 1 game my coach placed me at QB. It was a tough decision for him, I’m sure because I was short and it was difficult for me to see over the offensive line. The coach had a plan though. I seen it …. He was thinking this kid is Fast and Has a good arm. He rolled me out of the pocket and there it began !!! I had 2 Touchdown passes that game !!! After the game, I just knew I was in Love with Sports !!! I Loved Sports more than the guy who introduced me to them … My Dad. Whenever I thought of him and how he left, I embraced sports more !!! Sports was like My Dad, Big Brother, Uncle & Grandparents all in 1 !!!
Sports took me away from the Pain that I was harboring. It made me feel Loved, It made me feel like I’m here to succeed !!! The summer of 1991 prior to my freshman year of High School, I had gotten word that Football Camp was coming up. I was very excited and told My Mother about it. You can tell that she wanted to sign me up & she knew that she was going to have to sacrifice something to make it happen. That week that camp started My Mother called me into her room and she informed me that I would be attending High School Football Camp. I was Ready for the experience and Ready to play !!! I still remember this day clearly and I was ecstatic.
It was a great experience for me and it helped a family in need a lot. To have the accessibility to sports helped heal a young wounded soul.
Case in point, Sports can be a major influence in a child’s life. It can be the Dad or Mother influence that our kids would need to escape these evils that await us in this cold world. Sports played a Big part in my life and still does til this day. I continue to play recreation sports (Flag Football & Basketball) and tie this day it helps me deal with anything thats tough in life.
This is why it’s important to understand your child and get them engage with activities to help, #1 keep them Healthy/In Shape, #2 Gives them something to look forward to and gives them a sense of accomplishment, makes them feel apart of something (A Team) and can substitute as it did for me for the lose of a parent or friend.
Sports is Therapeutic for the Mind, Body and Soul.