The National Alliance for Youth Sports was a lifetime in the making for Fred Engh. Officially, Engh founded the organization in 1981, but it was born from decades of witnessing parents and volunteer coaches physically and emotionally abusing children, validating their worth based on their child’s performance and trampling the true purpose of what youth sports are really about: providing positive and safe environments for learning valuable life lessons and developing a passion for life-long physical activity.
In Engh’s latest book, Unsinkable Spirit, he recalls cringe-worthy memories where adults place their own ego and desire to win over what was best for the children, including his own childhood run-in with a win-at-all-costs coach.
Being a new kid in town was tough for Engh, who was 12 at the time. The other kids in school continued to treat him like an outsider. The only solace he found from his constant state of dejection was playing basketball at the local YMCA. As his basketball skills improved, so did his self-esteem.
When it came time for his basketball team’s first game, his coach refused to play him. “I begged the coach to let me play and all he would say is, ‘Not now.’ The game ended and everything I felt about myself died with it,” Engh has recently said about the experience.
Sadly, this is an experience echoed by thousands of children all over the country, even today.
Engh continued to see these kinds of scenarios, especially as an adult working in youth sports administration. These events, chronicled in Unsinkable Spirit, paved way to the creation of the National Alliance for Youth Sports, including the game changing risk Engh took to make his dream for positive youth sports a reality for children across the country – even when he had everything to lose.
Unsinkable Spirit is an engaging book that will inspire you to reach for the American Dream in the face of overwhelming odds.
A gifted speaker with an amazing story to share, Engh has appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN and ESPN, and is the author of Why Johnny Hates Sports: Why Organized Youth Sports Are Failing Our Children.
All proceeds from the sale of the book will support the Sammy Wilkinson Memorial Foundation, in memory of Fred's grandson.Fred Engh Unsinkable Spirit
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