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W&L Men's Basketball Program Partners with OOB, Players Share Success Stories and Advise Future Student-Athletes

posted Dec 4, 2011, 12:25 AM by Isaac White   [ updated Dec 6, 2011, 6:30 AM ]
The Out of Bounds program is about more than encouraging students to excel in the classroom, and teaching them how to use their athletic gifts to create opportunities for higher education.  It’s also about exploring beyond personal social and geographical boundaries.  An important component of the Out of Bounds program is providing freshmen and sophomore high school student athletes with the opportunity to visit institutions and meet current college student-athletes from similar backgrounds.  Engaging college student-athletes will provide high school student-athletes with an early preview of the academic, social, and athletic challenges that exist in a collegiate environment.  For many high school student-athletes, this experience will help them visualize their goals, broaden their horizons, and assist them with making decisions about their future at an earlier stage in their high school career.

In order to establish an environment where high school and college student athletes can engage one another, Out of Bounds is partnering with men’s basketball programs at various colleges and universities.  The men’s basketball program at Washington and Lee University is the first partner of Out of Bounds.  The head men’s basketball coach, Adam Hutchinson, has agreed to host the program pilot.  Coach Hutchinson shares a similar passion for helping inner city youth use their athletic gifts to create opportunities for advancement.  During his formative years in Newark, New Jersey he combated the frustration and anger over the incarceration of his parents and the loss of his older brother.  When recounting his childhood he emphasizes the support provided by his adopted mother, and using basketball as a means to channel his frustrations as influences which allowed him to overcome his circumstances and be successful later on in life.  After witnessing many of his peers without similar support systems and outlets fall short of their potential, Coach Hutchinson understands the importance of the mission of Out of Bounds.

In preparation for the program pilot I met with a diverse group of the players from the men’s basketball team to discuss some of the factors that have helped them individually become successful.  The group represented a variety of cultural, ethnic, and economic backgrounds.  While the details of each of their stories differed greatly, passion and support were key components to their success.  Each player talked about how their passion for basketball was derived from the sport’s unique set of challenges that weren’t available in a classroom environment.  Still, passion alone wasn’t enough to help them overcome the frustrations that come with facing challenges.  Each player had at least one person in their life who supported them through periods of difficulty along their path to success.  Their supporters encouraged their dreams, and provided guidance as they faced athletic and academic challenges throughout high school.

After reflecting on their own narratives, the players offered some advice to future classes of high school student-athletes.  The players emphasized hard work as the key to success in the classroom and on the court.  By achieving success in both arenas, high school student-athletes are able to take advantage of a variety of academic and athletic opportunities.  The players also encouraged students to maintain a sharp focus on the present while being mindful of the future.  Creating a personal long term outlook that encompasses professional and familial aspirations, will help student-athletes avoid immediate distractions such as unhealthy romantic relationships and fast money.

Talking with the men’s basketball players from Washington and Lee University reaffirmed many of my thoughts on the development of successful student-athletes, and gave me new insight on how success factors transcend cultural, ethnic, and economic boundaries.   I plan to share their success stories and advice with the high school student-athletes in the District of Columbia in hopes that they might be inspired, and use the stories and advice as tools to shape their own success.  I am appreciative of the opportunity to have met some of the men’s basketball players from Washington and Lee, and look forward to seeing them again in March when they will host the program pilot.

-Coach Isaac