An Open Letter to the Young Student-Athletes of Sportika-Goodworx and their Families
I was walking on air, I felt light, any worry or stress that I may have had at that very moment disappeared… simply because I had just spent 15 minutes with a bunch of eight and nine-year-old baseball players in the Sportika Gallagher Baseball Academy. This first session was a vision, a dream, a goal of mine since I became involved with Sportika in 2016. I set out to deliver a 12-month curriculum of short, impactful messages or life-lessons directly connected to the sport they love. My objective is to reach every student-athlete within the Sportika organization – close to 70 teams, approaching 1000 student-athletes – one team, one message, one life-lesson at a time.
My goal, you ask? To raise awareness and to provoke thought. To setup lightbulb moment opportunities for young people to experience. Not everyone, regardless of age, gets it right away but I have had the immense pleasure of seeing some students from my past mentoring programs see me later in life and say “I know now after all these years what you were trying to tell me, what you were trying to share with me. I get it now, and I thank you.” The message may not resonate right away, and for some the lesson may not be learned at all, but if I reach one young person, one student-athlete on any given day, session, workshop, or seminar, then I have served my purpose.
I have mentored thousands of kids over the last 30 years. In addition to teaching life-skills to student athletes at Sportika (as well as serving as the company’s CEO), I currently mentor middle school age boys in South Central Los Angeles, develop holistic youth development curriculum, and travel the country speaking and facilitating workshops and seminars for educators and program staff. I am living my dream and purpose, and I am thankful. I have seen kids from all circumstance and backgrounds, all economic status, and all cultures. I have worked with kids labeled at risk, at hope, disadvantaged, privileged, and entitled, and I see the same thing in them all.
I may not have the opportunity to reach all the student-athletes that are in front of me, but here is my message for each of them. Fall in love and respect the game. Learn the value of working hard and pay attention to how others work and practice. Don’t be afraid of hard work, learn to love preparation and learning. Your sport will provide for you. If you are extremely lucky, you may be able to earn a college scholarship. And if the stars align, you may become a professional athlete. But for the remaining 98.3% (not exact) of kids that set out to play a sport and aspire to reach the pros, they will fall short. Have they failed? No, not at all. They are blessed to learn from the sport they love, but they need our help in framing out the lesson. The sport is the teacher. And it is my pleasure to help these student-athletes develop the mindset and awareness of learning the lessons along the way.
That first lesson last week, you may ask? In this high-pressure world of youth sports, I simply wanted them to understand there are no mistakes, just opportunities to learn lessons.
So my message to the young people I serve is simply to keep shining your light, have fun, fall in love with your sport, make friends with your teammates, pay attention, and learn from the best teacher you may ever have.
I see bright lights and I believe in magic.
You are all pure magic. You are the best of what this world has to offer.
Jeffrey L. Jordan, Sportika CEO