A National Alliance for Youth Sports resource helping coaches, parents and administrators provide the best youth sports experiences for children.
The Power of Play
By Greg Bach
Mark Blount’s journey from Yonkers, N.Y., to the NBA was filled with big games, great performances and lots of accolades.
But his favorite youth sports memories have nothing to do with a high-scoring game – and he had lots of them on his way to earning a scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh.
And it doesn’t involve any awards he received along the way, such as being named a Parade All-American.
Instead, his favorite memories can be traced back to simply playing sports with his friends in the neighborhood.
The kids picked the sport, the teams and made their own rules.
There were no adults.
And there was incredible fun.
“My favorite time was growing up in New York where we played stickball, baseball, tackle football – you name it,” says Blount, who played for the Celtics, Heat, Nuggets and Timberwolves during his NBA days. “Those are my favorite memories because there were no adults and no referees. We were kids and we were just having fun. We’d come up with a sport we wanted to play and we went out there and played it. We were always active. We rarely spent time in the house because we were always doing something.”
DEALING WITH DISAPPOINTMENT
Blount knows disappointment – and how to use it as fuel to keep plugging ahead.
A second-round draft pick, he spent three years playing far away from the bright lights of the NBA for teams like the Baltimore Bayrunners and Yakima Sun Kings before finally realizing his NBA dream.
While most youngsters will never reach the NBA like Blount, the work ethic coaches can help instill in them at these early ages will pay big dividends throughout their life.
“It’s about making sure that kids are on the right path and giving them the information that they need to be successful,” says Blount. “It’s instilling that work ethic and focus that they can apply to anything they do, whether it’s sports or any field that they want to go into.”
Blount remembers the coaches he played for, because they made a difference in his game and in his life.
“My first coach when I started out playing basketball was able to work with me and really help me,” Blount says. “And as I moved to middle school and high school I had really good coaches who really enjoyed coaching kids and were very helpful. They passed on what they had gone through in their life and what they learned through the game of basketball that helped them succeed.”
Blount knows how important sports were in his life growing up, so he’s committed to giving back to help children these days.
He sponsors Project Full Press, a camp committed to the development, growth and health of children.
Plus, Seven Wellness is an organization he created to bring fitness and nutrition awareness to underprivileged kids. The six-week course features cross-fit trainers who are brought in to talk to the kids about their bodies, playing sports, taking care of themselves and eating healthy.
“We want to make sure that kids are having fun and putting the right things in their body so that they can be successful,” Blount says.
A child’s first coach wields enormous influence and can be the difference between a child loving – or leaving – the sport. Just ask Prim Siripipat, whose love of tennis was forged by an incredibly supportive and caring coach
She excelled on the basketball courts and soccer fields of her youth, and the lessons learned all the way through her collegiate playing days are used often in the high-pressure world of live television
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