Finding A Way For All Kids Too Play
“To provide programs that empower financially disadvantaged youth and youth who are mentally, physically or emotionally challenged the opportunity to participate in organized sports activities.”
Are we faith-based? Absolutely. But we are not denomination-specific.
Hebrews 11:1 defines “faith” better than any dictionary. The New Living Translation says it best: “Faith is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.”
This mission was first formulated in 2010 in a conference room with three men all wanting to find a way to help kids that are financially disadvantaged or mentally or physically challenged.
The offices of Access Sports are located at the Santa Fe Family Life Center at 6300 N. Santa Fe Avenue in Oklahoma City. The building is owned by the Knights of Columbus.
We had faith when we thought of developing a Freshman Player of the Year Award and we had faith when we went to Regina Tisdale, Wayman’s widow, and asked her permission to use Wayman’s name for the Award.
We had faith when we went to Indianapolis in March 2010 to present our request to the United States Basketball Writers Association and found out that there were two other groups there with the same idea and one of them was from North Carolina and was going to use Michael Jordan as the name on the award. Bob Ryan who was on the board of the writers association and a legendary writer at The Boston Globe stood up and took total control of the voting by insisting that Jordan deserved an award but the Freshman Player of the year award needed to be named after Wayman Tisdale.
We have spent a long time developing ourselves spiritually. We had to make decisions based on mission and ministry and hope and faith. We had to make sure that money was not one of the top three objectives in our plan. We worked very hard developing a mission statement.
We based our mission on three basic merits
- We would spend at least 75% of all money raised on the mission
- We would always put our mission ahead of ourselves
- We would develop our list of recipients based on financial needs along with those that have mental and or physical challenges.
We believe that if we established a mission statement without faith, then we would not be developing a mission statement, but instead building a business plan … and there is a huge difference. We cannot measure our success based on profit and loss. We cannot operate based on what we think we will receive today from sales or this week from residuals or this month from services rendered. Once we start a mission, we operate based on faith and belief in that mission.
Our mission has three very distinct objectives
The first objective is to raise money and develop scholarship programs for kids in and around Oklahoma City and the State of Oklahoma to help them be able to afford the cost of participating in organized sports activities. These activities include basketball leagues and summer camps.
The second objective is what everyone hears about and writes about in the paper which is producing the Wayman Tisdale Freshman Player of the Year Award. We hold a golf tournament each year in September and then an Award event in April for the Tisdale Humanitarian Award winner and the Wayman Tisdale Freshman Player of the Year; selected by the United States Basketball Writers Association.
This award specifically provides Access Sports funds to provide a single prosthesis each year through the Wayman L. Tisdale Foundation. The recipient is chosen by the Foundation and our medical partner Scott Sabolich who provides the prosthesis at cost. In 2011, the prosthesis went to a young high school football player from Hennessey, OK after he fell off his tractor and lost the portion of his leg from the knee down.
The Award also provides funds to the United States Basketball Writers Association for their scholarship program.
2011 was our first year for the award; Dick Vitale accepted our Humanitarian Award and Jared Sullinger from Ohio State was the Tisdale Freshman Player of the Year. Access Sports donated $10,000 to the V Foundation for Cancer Research in honor of Dick Vitale, one of the biggest supporters and a national spokesperson for the charity founded in honor of legendary basketball coach Jim Valvano.
This year on April 16 at the National Cowboy Western Heritage Museum we presented the Tisdale Humanitarian Award to Coach Mike Krzyzewski, who just this year passed his former boss, Bobby Knight as the coach who has won more college games than any other coach and is this year’s Sports Illustrated Man of the Year. In addition to winning basketball games, Coach K’s philanthropic work includes the Emily Krzyzewski Center where the mission (interestingly enough) is to inspire economically disadvantaged students to dream big, act with purpose and reach their highest potential. He is also on the board of the Jimmy V Cancer Foundation, Duke Children’s Hospital and the Hope and Dreams Council.
Anthony Davis, the freshman phenom from Kentucky, is our 2012 Freshman of the Year honoree.
I also want to point out three very special sponsors for our mission:
- Devon Energy is our Presenting Sponsor for the Tisdale Humanitarian Award and for the Tisdale Freshman Player of the Year Award
- Integris Health is our Tisdale Golf Classic Sponsor
- Chesapeake Energy’s sponsorship has allowed us to form a partnership with Fox Sports to have our Award event publicized on Fox Sports Southwest through a 30-minute television special. This is unique in that none of the other national basketball awards have their event on television.
The third objective is to fund special events at our Santa Fe Family Life facility for the mentally and physically challenged.
These activities include bringing kids in from the autistic home (Rose Rock). In addition, we work with the organization Fresh Start which is made up of a group of teachers in inner city Oklahoma City that got together to find a way to get kids to school that were being bullied and recruited by their peers to become carriers for drug deliveries.
We fund at least one special event each month (For instance, in March we teamed up with Cleats for Kids, an organization that collects shoes, uniforms and equipment to refurbish and then distribute to those that can’t afford them.)
We have Christmas parties, Easter egg hunts, play games and have swimming parties with DJ’s. In 2011, for one of our Christmas parties, we had Rose Rock in for Santa Claus, a DJ, and gifts. During the activities time we set 12 chairs out in the middle of the gym with 13 participants. The music played and stopped and with help from their chaperones the kids would fall into a chair and as you know each time one would be left out. At the end of the game with only one participant left as the winner, he jumped up and gave a high five to his chaperone. It was interesting to watch the demeanor of this little guy. He did not jump up and beat his chest, or point to the crowd like he had just conquered the world daring anyone to get in his space. His reason for giving a high five was simply because he had just overcome a fear from 15 minutes ago of even participating in the first place.
Our biggest event each year for these kids comes in July when we host the Santa Fe Games. We bring in as many as four groups of 100 kids with these special challenges to play games, swim, eat, dance and sing.
I love to tell the story of the 12-year old girl from the Center of Family Love in Okarche who came to participate in Santa Fe Games. We line everyone up at the end of their time and give them a T-shirt as they leave. She was first in line and I leaned down to give her a T-shirt and said, “here is a T-shirt; I wish we could do more.” She abruptly looked me straight in the eye and said “this is not just a T-shirt, this is everything.”
Those are the times we know our mission is on the right track and why money can never be the primary focus. But let’s face it. Money helps make our mission become a reality.
Money comes when we have a mission that has direct tangible benefits to our mission-specific participants and indirect intangible benefits to those who make the mission possible.
Let me take just a minute to talk to you about how Access Sports is fulfilling the mission of supporting Oklahoma youth in Oklahoma City and throughout the state.
In the first two years we have been in operation we have come along side the Christian Basketball Youth Association and established Wayman’s Lightning League. In 2011 we had over 5000 participants in OKC, Tulsa, Enid, Duncan and McAlester. In 2012 we have 10,000 participants in 25 towns.
This year’s activities include a regional tournament in seven locations and then the Tisdale State Tournament for the Wayman’s Lightning League. A total of 64 teams participate in eight divisions for both girls and boys.
As this league has developed we have been able to identify additional kids that could be playing if we could raise some additional funds. In order to do this we established a voluntary pledge program of $5 a month for on to five years or $60 a year for one to five years for those that want to help but either can’t or don’t want to spend the thousands of dollars for sponsorships. We developed this program to give you the exact amount it costs for one youth to have a scholarship in a league and to participate in our Family Summer Camp. The league fits into our mission of providing financially disadvantaged kids a way to participate in organized sports activities. The camp fulfills our mission of empowerment and expressing our intention of teaching about the true nature of athletics.
We believe the true merit of competition has nothing to do with how high one can jump or how many touchdowns one makes but in the everyday life values such as honesty, sportsmanship and learning that competition teaches one to win and lose with an attitude of graciousness, composure and spirit of the competition.
All sports activities teach that you are going to be knocked down. We want them to know that getting up and back in the game is more important than winning.
We believe that staying in the game is the measuring stick for perseverance and perseverance is the true way to success no matter where you are on the social ladder, the winner’s stand or whether you are mentally or physically challenged.
About Our Camp
Our camp will include, Jay Wilkinson who wrote “Dear Jay, Love Dad”, a book of letters from his father Bud Wilkinson while playing QB at Duke. These letters from one of the most famous college coaches in history express love from father to son, with a theme that tells him how much more important living a humble life and nurturing your gifts while in college exceed the act of playing football.
It is interesting that Access Sports hosted Jay Wilkinson at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in January 2012 as a kick-off to his new book and Coach Krzyzewski writes the Forward for Jay and the first sentence reads – “Two is better than one only if two can act as one”. What could be better in today’s society than parents working as one with their children?
In our camps, we will have the Fellowship of Christian Athletes provide huddle groups during the day.
Jim Riley, the former OU All American and member of the only professional team in history to go undefeated and win a Super Bowl, the Miami Dolphins, will come in and talk about his struggles with drugs and alcohol. When Jim, who is 6’ 5” and just shy of 300 lbs, comes in to talk, kids don’t blink and the point is always well taken.
Physicians from Integris Health will come in to discuss injury prevention, nutrition and the overriding truth about childhood obesity in our state today.
We will have the entire family come in the first day to hear Jay speak.
We will close with a picnic on the third day where we have Billy Severns, professional baseball player and author of two books, “Keepers of the Sandlot” and “The Sandlot Strategy,.” Billy will come and talk about his experience with his four boys as he coached each one of them in amateur baseball.
In the book “Keepers of the Sandlot” which encourages parents to manage their participation with their kids as they grow up and participate in sports he says that “Every message you send is received” and “your legacy is truly what you give to others. It will be something you said or did that makes someone else’s world a better place.”
In the “Sandlot Strategy” which is a book for coaching little league, teaching life lessons and the importance of communicating with parents exactly what you are doing he says, “Cherish every moment while you can, and be there for them as they grow.”
As an end result of this camp each participant will be enrolled in College Influence. College Influence is a program that sets up a data base for kids to enroll by inputting their academic and athletic information including film from High School. This information is then shared with over 4000 colleges all across the country as a “matching” opportunity. These colleges then have an opportunity to create relationships with those that fit into their athletic profile and or their curriculum guidelines. Simply put they match their needs with the desires of qualifying students and athletes from all over the country and provide opportunities that would not otherwise be possible.
How to Pledge
We are in hopes that you would consider $5 per month or $60 per year as a donation to Access Sports which is the amount it takes to provide one kid the opportunity to participate in the league, the camp and be enrolled in College Influence.
We have the marquee publicized events covered by corporate groups and we have some financial spillover from those events, but the nuts and bolts of our mission is far from what it can be. Your support will provide another youth each year an opportunity to participate.
Our commitment to you on this pledge is that your donation will go 100% to one youth.
We will take your pledge, match it with 9 other deserving players and put them on a team. We will take their picture, include a schedule and send them to you just in case you want to come and watch your money in action on any Saturday during the league at 63rd and Broadway.
Click here to start your pledge today!
In closing I hope I have provided you with the mission specific principles of Access Sports. We are more interested in 5 -15 year old kids losing than winning. Society has placed too much of a priority on winning. Half of the true value of competition is in losing. At least 50% of each competition has a loser.
We believe our vision of teaching from losing is more important than celebrating for winning.
The importance of a competition is not based on having more or less points than the other team at six years old, but in the knowledge a coach or a parent or a mentor can provide to a young player by showing them how they can assess their performance and improve enough to win next time.
Winning is easy. Understanding how to learn from losing is hard because it takes time to evaluate, teach, explain and then expect results.
We want to teach that life consists of learning to get up from losing, persevering and winning the next time by not making the same mistakes again.
Access Sports Inc. is a 501 – C – 3 Foundation