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Youth Empowerment Through Lakeland Sports

Lakeland Prep rising 7th grader, Harrison Goolsby.

By Carmen Quest

This Column is dedicated to highlighting sports and recreational activists and outstanding individuals, groups, and teams, along with their composition, dedication, drive, determination, challenges, successes, insights, advice, accomplishments, and goals.

There are countless benefits to engaging in sport at any age, but to learn the life skills inherent in healthy competition, whether endeavored via team or solo, and to reap the rewards of wisdom gained through sport and sportsmanship early on, sets a solid groundwork for confidence, courage, and camaraderie to grow and evolve throughout the life of the participant. Three Lakeland track athletes demonstrated that this summer.

In Lakeland, we know that sports are both challenging and fun, exhausting and exhilarating, independent and collective. Cooperation, community, a sense of extended family and a ‘deeper sense of belonging’ as one becomes a teammate and inherits a dynamic and interactive support group can prove priceless.

The discipline, dedication, and determination an athlete learns as the hurdle is cleared, the technique is mastered, the goal is achieved, and the sweat is wiped proudly from the brow, translates organically when the athlete walks off the field and into life.

Tyrez Jenkins, Lakeland Prep rising 7th grader.

Self-confidence, problem solving, conflict management, accountability, awareness (of mind, body, self, and others) and intention as well as the sheer joy and satisfaction of play, are all significant benefits of youth involvement in sport.

Self-respect, self-nurturing, and self-responsibility are vital aspects of success both in and out of uniform. The athlete learns to honor the specific exercise routine that will elevate output, as well as to hydrate often, consume foods that will fuel the body and to consistently get enough rest, recovery, and sleep for peak performance.

Work hard. Play hard. (Have fun!). Rest. Repeat.

The athlete learns to maximize potential; that what one puts into something is usually what one gets out of it, and quite often, it’s even a much better ROI.  The participant understands that if one’s actions are aligned with one’s greatest intentions, desired results are achieved.  ‘Practice makes perfect’ is an antiquated mantra, but hard work does pay off, ‘practice makes progress’, and mindful progress is always positive. The p0ossibilities become endless.

Bailey Goolsby (left) is a rising 4th grader at Lakeland Elementary School.

It’s a beautiful thing to witness a well-rounded, engaged, and grounded student athlete whose bright light shines for all to see.

Three such student athletes from here in Lakeland are Bailey Goolsby (rising 4th grader), Tyrez Jenkins (rising 7th grader) and Harrison Goolsby (rising 7th grader). All have demonstrated outstanding talent as they successfully qualified for the AAU Junior Olympics Regional meet in Track & Field.

Harrison Goolsby is also honored and proud to be attending the Junior Olympics in North Carolina this August.  In his mature and insightful words posted on his twitter account immediately following an inspired list of self-descriptive words” ‘God, Family, School, Sports, Lakeland Prep, Student Athlete, QB, AAU Track Jr. Olympian, Wrestler.” Above you can see Harrison in his hat, sunglasses, and Lakeland Prep jersey holding a large red and gold WTAC Conference Champ Trophy from this past spring season. Harrison offers some insight into his practical methodology, demonstrating his work ethic, enthusiasm, confidence, and can-do attitude: “I do what I need to do so I can do what I want to do”.