Young men learn many lessons as they participate in sports. During this time, the player and the coaches form many bonds and friendships as the transition from adolescent to adult takes place. Coaches have a great impact on the players they interact with, influencing them to make wise decisions and helping them through difficult times. Often times the coach and athlete lose touch when the player graduates high school, but one coach thought that shouldn’t be the case.
“I recently witnessed many of our former players involved in activities that were not healthy for them or our community. As a result of these unhealthy activities many of my athletes have suffered incarcerations, injuries and death.” said Coach Mike Kearns. “I looked back at these incidents and wondered if they could have been curbed or avoided altogether if these young men would have felt comfortable confiding in someone or simply talking to a friend who might have given good advice, as the Coach had once done in each of their lives.”
As a result of one such tragedy, the Jeremy Samples Athletic Outreach Program was started in 2012 . The outreach program is designed to keep former male athletes in touch with former coaches in an effort to continue positive influence, advice, guidance and friendship. Once the young men have graduated high school, each will be contacted by a coach twice per year by phone, text or email for a period of three years.
The program has now been passed on to Coaches Jason Nichols and Barry Payton to continue at Clay High School for many years to come. As the class of 2014 graduates, another group of young men will become part of the Jeremy Samples Athletic Outreach Program. It is reassuring to know that these young men with have a coach, mentor and friend available if needed.