Alley Oop Hoops presents
"Drive & Kick" with Lorenza Wilkins, CEO/Co-Founder of Compass Youth Center and Executive Director of Rebound, Alternatives for Youth
Lorenza is from rural Northeastern, North Carolina, in Warren County. His love affair with basketball began in 7th grade after a four inch growth spurt and he made his middle school team. He comes from a family of baseball players but was the first serious basketball player in the family. Sports were part of his upbringing, to stay physically active but also as a potential way to create a career and build net worth.
Student athlete mentality
During his freshman year in high school, he was holding his own with the varsity team and got more serious about basketball. He continued to grow and kept in shape through early years of high school, finding the weight room, building his strength, agility and skill. Lorenza has always been a supporter of student athletes, and he kept “student” before “athlete”. Perform off the court before focusing on performing on the court. Late in high school, Lorenza attended a Project Uplift event at UNC-Chapel Hill, which was one of his first exposures to secondary learning - this really got him thinking about his future.
Focus on business and entrepreneurship
Lorenza had early dreams of being a pilot but towards the end of high school, he became more intrigued by entrepreneurship, so he focused on business studies in his junior and senior years in high school. Though business is not taught explicitly in high school, he focused on mathematics which is used in business. His uncles had several businesses, which empowered Lorenza to foster a business mind. “I wanted to be able to create profit while doing something I enjoy.”
Mentors that supported Lorenza
Lorenza’s father was always a great role model in his life. His uncles, brothers, teammates, teachers and professors also made an impact on his life. father, uncles & brothers, community, teammates, teachers & professors. He had a lot of people around him letting him know from a young age, “you can do this.” “I took everything from those around me who had something positive to say and customized it to help me be as successful as I could on my path.”
Basketball as a means to an end
Lorenza grew to understand how basketball could be a ticket to help him get into school, so long as he was maintaining academics while being an athlete. Sports and academics used as an opportunity to get to schools, opportunity to sustain academics & sport and opportunity to take lessons forward to your future career.
Lorenza chose North Carolina Central University due to the strength of the education and basketball program. NCCU had won a National Title a few years prior and the team was strong that he joined. He was also considering Coppin State and Shaw at the time. Lorenza declared a Business Administration major with a Finance minor. Though basketball was consuming, Lorenza started to see that the opportunities in Research Triangle Park for business was vast. “I saw that if we get young people connected to STEM at an earlier age, it creates the opportunity to build a career.”
Career in Corporate America
As Lorenza was nearing graduation, it was paramount that he found a job with stability and good benefits for him to support his family, as his first son was born in his sophomore year at NCCU. He was thinking long-term when building a career, and began his professional career in talent acquisition and resource management. He made the most impact in this field by being able to shape careers and the talent pipeline for big companies. Lorenza found there was a “population of students that need additional support.” He was called to action, seeing that nonprofits can assist by preparing young people for a career mindset and connecting them to career opportunities at a young age. “Opportunities are there. It’s just a matter of connecting students to the resources.”
Compass Youth Center
Lorenza co-founded Compass Youth Center over 10 years ago, and still to this day, most of the work done by volunteers. The organization uses STEM as a connector, helping children engage with project-based learning to help redirect misbehaviors that cause disconnection in schools. The data shows us that in rural, undserversed areas, organizations can make the biggest change. Since 2015, Compass Youth Center has served over 500 students in nearly 12 counties in North Carolina with a two-fold approach: 1. Connect young kids to STEM as an opportunity for educational advancement and 2. Utilizing former athletes to support building leadership abilities in youth.
Rebound, Alternatives for Youth
Lorenza joined Rebound right before the pandemic as Executive Director. Rebound was founded in 2013 to support youth. Short-term suspensions make it difficult for students to stay connected to school, graduate and reach academic and professional goals. Rebound helps keep kids connected to their school work during suspension. The organization partners with the school system - both administration and educators, to ensure students have an environment that helps connect students to their schools. Rebound also leverages relationships with the university system to help meet the needs of students.
Advice to those seeking to mentor
When someone is not sure where to start, the “first line of contact should be the public school system.” This will provide direct contact to those who need mentoring and resources. Also, Parks and Recreation Centers and local nonprofits are good places to start. Find out what the needs of the programs are and help fill the gaps.
Alley Oop Hoops presents
"Drive & Kick" with Dr. Kim Bush, Director of Undergraduate Programming in Parks, Recreation, Tourism Management at NC State University
Students return to campus at NCSU
Kim serves as Director of Undergraduate Programs in the Parks, Recreation, Tourism Management Department, which includes Sports Management at NC State. Yesterday was the first day for classes on campus – it was great to see a summer of preparation and planning roll out live. Originally, when they surveyed students in June, 60-80% wanted face-to-face, and now that students are back on campus, that has flipped to where the majority prefer online. In Kim’s classes, she has had 80% who wanted to do virtual learning. She does a Zoom group and face-to-face group. NCSU has made it easier to social distance. There are picnic tables all around campus, a great way to social distance but still connect with students and faculty. Almost everyone on campus, 99.5% of people, are wearing masks.
Kim’s experience in youth sports
Sports were a big part of Kim’s life. When she first started playing sports, she was on boys’ teams as there were no girls team. She began with baseball and soccer, and then later added basketball and softball when girls’ teams existed. She discovered field hockey in middle school. The turning point for Kim was in to her freshmen year of high school, she did a sleep-away camp with the high school field hockey team with triple sessions of training per day. Thankful to her parents, who did not have the money to send her but they found it. In high school, she played basketball, field hockey, and soccer through her junior year, and focused solely on field hockey her senior year. She then picked up a job training youth field hockey before college.
Studying sports management
Kim did not initially intend to go in to sports management, which is a reason why she likes working with students who find their way to sports management. If it’s the right fit for the students to leave sports management to go somewhere else, she understands. Initially, Kim was convinced she wanted to practice sports psychiatry. Halfway through her junior year of college, she realized more of her teammates were studying physical education, sports management or parks and recreation. But she was focused on graduating in four years, so she finished Psychology at Ohio State University and went to Ohio University to study physical education and sports administration for a Master’s program. Kim then coached in college – she dropped down to coaching Division III for four years – she played Division I and knew countless players who came in to Division I loving the sport but that it eventually felt like work, so she wanted to see if the same was the case at the Division III level. After coaching for several years, she went back to school for her second Master’s and PhD in Sport and Exercise. During this second Master’s program was opened up to discrepancies in society, which is where her academic passion really came out.
What brought her to Raleigh
Kim came to Raleigh for an opportunity to teach at Meredith College. She is a big supporter for women in sports and women in general – Meredith’s mission of building strong, successful women was an exciting opportunity. At Meredith, she was teaching physical education, training teachers on how to coach and teach physical education. She taught at Meredith for three years until the opportunity arose at NC State University to teach in the parks and recreation department teaching sports management.
“In an ideal world, we’d all start with the same resources, but it’s not an ideal world. How do we take away some of the challenges for people that exist? How do we make a fair playing ground at much as possible whether it relates to ability and disability, gender and pay, race and ethnicity, or socio-economic status? How do we continue to address these disparities?” Kim is a continued learner in this space, and appreciates that NC State has a Diversity, Inclusion and Equity program as part of the College of Natural Resources as well as another program on campus for the entire organization.
“Social Issues in Sport” course
This is one of Kim’s favorite courses to teach. The intent is to look at different issues and address the issues with different theories. Generally, they spend a week on each topic. Several of the issues covered include:
Athletes defaulting to sports management majors
In the total Parks, Recreation, Sport Management department, they have 600 majors, and at least 150 are student-athletes or heavily involved in athletics. Kim thinks it makes a lot of sense for athletes to study sports management. That was her “ah ha” moment in college. “I can study what I love to do, what helped me get a college education, what was my escape as a child.”
NC State’s sports management program is a top 10 major for the school this year. Several differentiators in the program are:
Bringing her students in to the community
A lot of Kim’s work is with lower income areas in Raleigh. For years, they have done a program with an elementary school called “College Bound.” Most of the students in the school didn’t know anyone other than their teacher who went to college. From kindergarten, introduce what college means, and empower young children to feel they can attain it if they want. A full day each Spring, 200-300 college students Arts, Academics, and Athletics. Students are paired with a college buddy for the entire day. Her favorite teaching moments came through.
This past year, NCSU sponsored a “Girls and Women in Sports” clinic to invite the community on campus for a day, celebrated at the same time as National Girls and Women in Sports Day. This included going to a women’s game, doing a “Chalk Talk” with the coaches. She has also done runs, walks, festivals partnering with schools.
Intentional work with their partners, mutually beneficial relationships.
“We are not of the mindset that we are going to come in and help you. We are going to gain just as much as you are. How do we set these events up as a partnership?” This is not an egotistical partnership.
Pandemic effect on youth connectivity
Kim feels we can still do a lot virtually to stay connected to younger children during the pandemic. Is it Zoom? Sports lesson? Talking about the history of sports?
One of her learnings in graduate school was the importance of early childhood as a predictor of success. If we know certain groups can’t afford preschools, they are starting out behind and reliant on school to bring them up to speed. With the pandemic, she has major concerns about the gap getting larger and larger. It is challenging for parents in general, but if a parent is a single parent, or both parents work, that discrepancy could grow.
Opportunities for sports management students
Given it is a large school, there are many ways to get involved immediately. game day operations, marketing, media, ticket sales, team managers – any area of interest they have. Local professional teams – NCFC, Firebirds, Hurricanes. Get involved, is the message to their students. They have excellent faculty with worldwide connections. Strong alumni network. On volunteering and internships: “The A’s and B’s are great, but it’s the experience and recommendations that are going to help you navigate your way.”
Alley Oop Hoops presents
"Drive & Kick" with Coach Jason "Jay" Coleman, Founder of 3D Basketball
Jay started playing rec league at 5 years old at Millbrook Exchange, and then began playing at Green Road soon thereafter. His dad coached and he grew up playing with his brother. Some of the same guys he played early rec league with - Shawan Robinson, Anthony Simmons - played against through high school.
Raleigh’s rich basketball history
Basketball runs deep in the area. Discussed Raleigh’s basketball presence in ‘99 - ‘03 (Jay graduated high school from Sanderson in ‘02) - Shavlik Randolph, Shawan Robinson, Anthony Richardson, DJ Thompson, PJ Tucker, Eric Williams.
College recruiting experience
Jay played junior varsity both his freshmen and sophomore years. In his junior year of high school, colleges started showing interest but no offers. In his senior year, despite the strength of the conference, Jay averaged just under 20 per game and made All Conference. Mindset of “D1 or nothing” - he was playing at a high level with other guys and wasn’t getting the interest he thought he deserved. Planned on walking on at NC A&T, but that did not work out, so he then transferred to Shaw.
Advice to young players
The work he does now focuses on education for both parents and players. Jay educates parents and creates awareness on the pitfalls of the game and decisions kids face. College ball is your resume if you want to pursue basketball after college, take advantage of your time in playing college, no matter where you play - no matter what division. When deciding on where to go to school - go somewhere you’re going to play. “If you have plans to play after college, make sure you go somewhere where you will get the minutes and game film”.
More mid-major guys are making it now than years ago. A lot of top 50 high school players are barely panning out - “mid-major guys can make just as big of an impact” in their career playing. Get the experience, the skills, go somewhere where you’re going to play and build your portfolio to continue your career after college.
After two years at Shaw, Jay’s scholarship didn’t get renewed, and he left school, trying out overseas. Jay went to these tryouts with his father, and in hindsight, players must have adequate representation. He struggled to think outside of basketball because he loved the game for so long - “it was basketball or nothing”. He was in the corporate workforce for 10 years. He came back to the game after his son was born, coaching him in rec leagues and then helping with his AAU team.
Beginning a career in basketball training
When Jay was supporting his son’s AAU team, one of the parents asked Jay if he would train another kid on the team. Jay started training one kid, one time per week and built his program from there. It started with Friday afternoons at Grand Slam. He took time to build his career as a trainer to support himself. “Started off struggling” but made it happen because it was a passion for him. Traveling to other cities, building relationships - you have to be in the gyms. “Once I get them in the gym, they’re sold”.
Most important skill for a trainer
Many former players think it is easy to train basketball if you know the game of basketball. But that isn’t the case. The most important skill for a trainer, and where Jay has been able to excel, is patience to teach.
Biggest challenge in running a personal business
Though Jay studied business during his two years at Shaw, he did not get deep into the business school, and found the business side, specifically marketing, branding, and promotion, to be the toughest part. He learned over time with no advertising experience. The business side has a constant learning curve. He had no idea the opportunities in merchandise, but has recently made a concerted effort to grow his brand through merchandise. Constantly evolving and studying the business side of the operation, but the focus is always on the players. Represents players, prioritizes his players and guides them on making best decisions for their future.
Jay loves entrepreneurship and sharing his story with anybody who wants to work for themselves. He is big on self-starters, wants to help in any way, and many of his former players who no longer play the game, he remains in contact with to lend a hand how possible. Tells his players they need to write business plans if they have ideas.
Coaching his children vs. other children
When training his kids - he's their trainer, not dad, when they are in the gym. He is not easier on his kids than other athletes. Jay does not push his kids to want to train, even though he’s a trainer. Four years ago, when his oldest was 9 years old, he pushed more, but as he has gotten older, Jay has backed off. His oldest now asks him for feedback and wants to be pushed harder. “Parents need to be more aware of the pressure and expectations we put on our kids.” A lot of parents who did not make it far in athletics want so badly for their kids to be successful, but the kids have to want it.
Alley Oop Hoops presents
"Drive & Kick" with Dr. D-Nice Beaugelin
D-Nice’s wellness philosophy
University of Texas Medical School, Masters in Nursing – Western-trained medicine doctor, however with a more Eastern approach over the years. D-Nice is a certified acupuncturist, and has many holistic trainings and certifications. She is also Board certified in Lifestyle Medicine & Internal Medicine. Over the years, she has formed her own style, blending Western medicine & holistic prevention-based medicine - system of wellness to teach to young people, high school and college students.
What is the FOUNT wellness system?
What aspect of wellness do most teenagers neglect?
First and foremost – sleep. There is a general lack of understanding how important sleep is for your overall health, and this is even more critical for athletes that stress their bodies constantly. Secondly, screen time. We are all guilty of being on phones too much, screen time counts whether virtual learning or not. “Your brain doesn’t care whether you are using the screen to learn or not – it counts.”
D-Nice’s “Easy is Bad” athletic program
This program is applying FOUNT specifically for athletes, focusing and addressing on the physical and mental demands on the body. High-performing athletes want longevity, want your body to be strong, and improve performance and recovery. Wellness is critical, even when you have youth on your side.
“You feel you have super power, until you don’t. Until that first injury comes, and then you’re there wondering what to do.” Selling prevention to someone who feels perfect at the time is a difficult sell.
Challenge the way you are nourishing your body. Challenge the way you are sleeping. Challenge the way you are managing your stress. Make taking care of your body part of your routine at a young age and carry it with you. Make rest worth it. You’ll gain more than you’ll lose when you take proper rest.
24/7/365 nature of youth athletics
D-Nice referenced a study that you need three months rest from your sport to heal your body. Getting to the coaches and team owners, to help them understand wellness at a deeper level. You want to walk away from the game healthy. Once your athletic career is over, you want to take your body with you to next stage of life. You give your body to the game, take it with you when you leave. “Don’t leave the game with a broken body. You can be a high functioning athlete without the 24/7, year-round push.” Wellness isn’t being measured when these decisions are being made.
What does D-Nice do daily to protect her wellness?
D-Nice has been practicing wellness since she was a senior in high school (graduating high school at age 16). It was then that she began exercising regularly, as prior to that she was inactive. In college, she swam and cycled, walked a lot with her father, and found meditation. She changed her diet in her early 20’s. She is always aware of how to take care of her mind, body and energy around me, and has used her FOUNT system religiously. D-Nice adds new things into her daily routine of wellness as she continues to learn.
D-Nice has been a youth leader since she was a teenager herself, and was always involved with youth programs through her church, helping steer youth program decisions as a teenager. Over the years she has noticed most wellness programs are geared towards adults, not high school or college age students. The teenage years are an important time for students where they are deciding where they’re going in life, time to veer this way or that way. This is a great time to create behaviors that contribute to longevity of wellness. She has lots of energy, and finds it easy and natural to work with high schoolers.
Alley Oop Hoops presents
"Drive & Kick" with Drew Johnson, McNair Scholars Program Coordinator, NCCU
Beginnings in basketball
Drew began playing in elementary school, probably around 3rd grade, and wasn’t very good. Drew was cut from Garner Road AAU in 3rd grade. That fueled him to keep playing and progressing.
Early player influences
’94 UNC team with Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace. But it wasn’t the superstars that Drew looked up, it was Donald Williams – consistent player, great shooter, good ball handler. Dad played at NC State on ’74 championship team, cousin also played. Memories going to games as a kid, his family's impact on his love for the game.
Playing at a high level
Drew had a great 8th grade year, and when the season ended, one of his friends mentioned AAU. He tried out for the “Raleigh Heat,” coached by Chris Davis. Drew was in the mindset of “do whatever it takes” to make varsity as a sophomore. “Feel yourself getting better” - best in your neighborhood, best in other neighborhoods and start to become one the best players around.
Drew didn’t know what HBCU was in high school - “it was Carolina or nothing” - wanted to play at highest level possible.
“I wasn’t producing in the way I wanted to produce. It is important to have support system wherever you are, you have to be your biggest supporter.” Look at who’s recruiting you and the relationships you’ll have with them. If the Assistant Coach is recruiting you hard, make sure that the Head Coach values your game, as the Head Coach is making the in-game decisions about who is getting minutes.
Transferring to North Carolina Central
Drew didn’t care where he went just wanted to get out of VCU. His cousin was coaching at NCCU. “I just wanted to go somewhere where I was wanted and valued. If you feel like that as an athlete, it’s written on the wall for you.”
VCU vs. NCCU
NCCU was an immediate culture shock. At VCU, the only black students are student athletes. At NCCU, everyone is black, and the band is just as important as sports. More of a community feeling at NCCU.
Student athletes’ platform
Students in general, but student athletes especially, have more of a voice now. Student athletes are more comfortable voicing their opinion on how they’re being treated. Easier to get contracts, easier to get an ear – even just ten years ago when Drew was in school, he was there just happy to be in the room now – but now athletes feel they have a seat at the table. Athletes should “keep speaking up, keep speaking out.” Student athletes should use the platform, use their voices.
Message to players making college decisions
“Go where you’re wanted and where you will be valued.” “Look at the roster, see who’s playing your position and their year – there might not be enough minutes to go around.” “When on your visit watch how they guys who don’t play are being treated. Look at how they act when the coach comes around.” Make sure that the staff values growth as a person, as you know the Coach is going to get everything out of you so get everything out of this decision.
Life after basketball
You have to look in the mirror and ask yourself if you can do this for a living. “Do I want to try to play professional because it’s all I know or because I’ll be looked at as a failure if I don’t play?” Discussed need for more coaches and basketball people to be empowering of athletes looking past basketball. Regarding career fairs, Drew remembers teammates laughing that he was focused on his future.
McNair Scholars Program
Drew’s job at NCCU is not involved with athletics, but rather working with first generation college students and low income students pursuing their Masters and PhD programs. Helping students find opportunities after Bachelors programs. Visiting schools, applying for programs. Drew enjoys building relationships with people. Drew landing this opportunity with NCCU was due in large part to building relationships with professors, which is more difficult in larger schools. “Leverage those relationships you build.”
What does Drew wish he was exposed to earlier?
“The fear of stepping out of the athletic bubble.” Drew used career fairs as an example, and remembers teammates feeling like he was either a nerd that he was focused on his future, or teammates might feel he was not dedicated to basketball. Not taking into account his preparation for the future earlier enough - “I wish I took advantage of earlier opportunities outside of basketball” – through internships, meeting the right people to help transition after college. “Build relationships outside of sports” - find interests outside of the game
Cape & Drew Podcast
Julian and Drew were VCU roommates, who both felt like outcasts on campus. They kept in touch over the years, and as friends were having conversations about life after sports, trying to find a niche after athletics. The podcast is meant to tell their stories and highlight other stories of the transitions of student athletes trying to find their “why.”
Best piece of advice
As an athlete you hear work on your craft, work on your craft - “invest in yourself” – and the same thing goes in professional world, build your strengths, and work on your weaknesses. If you are not a good public speaker, take a public speaking class. “Continue to invest in yourself, keep building your brand and marketing yourself.”
In response to our country's racial unrest, many organizations have committed to fighting discrimination through conversations surrounding inclusion, diversity, and equity. However, words are empty without action.
Reducing pay disparities for black employees (and women employees, for that matter) is not unattainable, but it takes hiring managers being comfortable making job offers based on merit, not what a candidate currently makes.
In the last three years, 14 states have banned asking job applicants about what they've made and are making, and more will follow. The research shows us that, within these states, Black (+13%) and female (+8%) candidates who took new jobs were brought in line with compensation of white males.
As a minority or diversity candidate, know that you do not need to share this information with a potential employer. If they keep pushing, it's probably not the right organization.
As an organization hiring candidates, let go of this idea that you must base your current offer on what a candidate is currently making.
We are excited to announce the release of “Drive & Kick,” a series of one-on-one conversations with community leaders and youth advocates.
Our conversations will delve in to the same areas Triple Threat was founded to support - education, career readiness, entrepreneurship, wellness, community engagement and activism, and navigating the basketball journey of a young player.
The calendar is set through August, and we can’t wait to showcase the people doing amazing work in our communities, hoping these conversations can be tools for our mentors to show up for youth, tools for parents to supplement their children’s ideas and experiences, and tools for teenage athletes navigating the difficult decisions and situations ahead.
Without further ado:
* July 21 - Drew Johnson, McNair Scholar Program at North Carolina Central University
* July 28 - Dr. D-Nice Beaugelin, Adolescent Wellness Specialist at wisdomteethinger.com
* August 4 - Coach Jason “Jay” Coleman, Basketball Trainer, 3D Basketball
* August 11 - Kim Bush, Director of Undergraduate Programs (Parks, Rec, Sports, Tourism) at NC State University
* August 18 - Lorenza Wilkins, Executive Director at Rebound, an Alternative for Youth and STEM Advocate
* August 25 - Umar Muhammad, Professor of Practice, Sports Management at St. Augustine's University
Conversations will be held LIVE on Instagram Live, every Tuesday evening at 8pm at the @triplethreat_nc Instagram page. Rest assured, we will remind everyone as we near each topic.
We hope that you will join us and share with your network!
We are led to believe that convicted felons are stripped of their rights as Americans. Once convicted felons in the State of North Carolina have completed a felony sentence or have been pardoned, they are immediately eligible to register and vote.
The convicted felon can ask his or her releasing officer for a “Certificate of Restoration of Forfeited Rights of Citizenship”. This certificate is not required to register to vote, but it will prove eligibility to vote if challenged.
#vote #vote2020 #knowyourrights #bethechange #bethechangeyouwanttosee
We are thrilled with the monumental decision made this weekend by five-star recruit Makur Maker to join the Howard Bison!
The importance of Maker signing with an HBCU cannot be understated. Hopefully, more young athletes will make similar decisions.
Our organization will make a concerted effort to teach our youth the value of HBCU by bringing representatives from the HBCU in to our program.