LGTS Enables Youth Ages 5-12 The Sports Instruction They Need Whether Or Not They Can Afford It
The words spoken by Derek Locklear, owner of Coach Derek Inc., founded Let’s Give Them a Shot with the vision of creating a program that would serve underprivileged children in at-risk neighborhoods in the Los Angeles area.
“I had this vision. It wasn’t a dream, it just literally came to me in the middle of the day, that I would someday be running a youth sports program for children who couldn’t afford it,” Locklear said.
Locklear, from Locust, North Carolina set out a fundamental plan in 2002, to catch-up children, not only in sports, but in literacy as well.
“Our mission at Let’s Give Them a Shot is to pick up the children who have been left behind,” Locklear said. “The solution was reading and I couldn’t ignore that.”
Not only does Coach Derek focus on young children, but high schoolers as well, through the Coaches-In-Training Program.
Through this program, a select group of teenagers are paid to lead, coach, and mentor a group of young children.
Even before becoming paid employees, the potential coaches are screened in an interview process, and are trained during actual LGTS sessions.
Through his early journey, he met Megan Atkins in 2002, who was a teacher at Manhattan Place Elementary School in Inglewood.
She shared her experience with Locklear that, “even while Manhattan Place is located adjacent to Jesse Owens Park, many of the students still didn’t have an opportunity for physical activity due to their parents’ work schedules. “ Said Atkins.
That moment then jump started Coach Derek’s vision. “So, every Friday I started showing up at the school from 8 a.m. in the morning to 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon,” Locklear explained. “I provided physical education coaching and opportunities, free of charge, to the children and staff of Manhattan Place.”
Still having much bigger plans, he expanded his organization with Alpha Leadership Academy to include reading opportunities to the children at 112th Street School in Watts, in addition to physical education.
Students learn different sports, like baseball, soccer, basketball and football, but will all share a common goal of getting to college.
The focus at hand is working with these second and third graders at an early enough age, where sport sand academics will be second nature for them, and to hopefully love reading as much as playing sports.
Before being released to the field or court, children must read for 21 minutes with a volunteer or coach.
“This whole thing all started with five kids in a park, that were bringing their own equipment, and now we serve over 1,000 kids a week. It’s just amazing,” Said Locklear.