“I feel extremely fortunate to be able to do what I love for a living…”
Coach Derek Locklear: My Story
Sometime, almost 26 years ago, I had a vision. Now I realize that this term “vision” can be used as a metaphor or a phrase that means, “I had an idea or a dream” and I get where folks can be put off by this (I have even had those thoughts from time to time hearing it from other people). You all know the old “I had a vision” statement, but this one was real and it happened to me.
On one random afternoon while I was at the Lake Norman YMCA in Huntersville North Carolina, working as a Program Director for Youth and Adult Sports, enjoying my life and trying to get ahead and well, you know, do life. The vision came to me and it looked like this:
I was running a Youth Sports business in a city I did not recognize with a staff of a few people I did not know. We had an office and we were setting up youth sports programs for kids that did not have anywhere else to learn sports.
The city was big and my staff was little but as a group we were doing BIG things. At the time of this vision the only story that comes to mind is “Jonah and the Whale.” You know, the one where this guy gets a direct message from God and he is too busy or just doesn’t want to be bothered and God does a bunch of crazy stuff to get his attention. That was me, I mean minus the getting swallowed by the whale part.
Now at the time of this vision the last thing on earth I wanted to do was quit my job, move anywhere and start a different business. I have never taken any courses in anything that remotely resemble a business class, not to mention the whole “not knowing how much money I’m making bit,” Besides I really liked my job.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was going to spend the next 10 years or so in training. Training for my purpose, training for my life’s work, training for the greatest thing that this guy from a very small town in North Carolina was ever going to do. So one thing led to another and I found myself almost 3000 miles away from home in Hermosa Beach California. Either way I found myself here not knowing what I was going to do, live or even work.
It’s crazy to think back at that time in my life. Who does that? Who packs up their car, drives across the country with a few bucks in their pocket and a phone number of a guy that may ot may not give them a job? No plan – no idea – all I wanted was a change. Well, that is what I did. I was the furthest from home I have ever been and I found myself scared to death.
So after one thing led to another, and failure after failure, it had been almost 3 years and the experiment of Los Angeles was coming to a very pitiful end. The jobs had all been lost, the money was all gone and I was bankrupt in every other area of my life and my parents purchased for me a one-way ticket back home.
My bags were packed and a friend was driving me to the airport. Those that know the area driving Northbound on PCH, the exit to LAX is on the right, and we found ourselves, (ok, I know this is going to sound really cheesy but) …at the turning point (quite literally).
At that exact moment, the last possible moment, I told her to stay straight instead of making the turn that would have ended my journey in Los Angeles. We turned around and I have been here for almost 11 years. Since that moment I have watched my vision become a REALITY.
Today, even if I had a billion dollars in the bank, this is exactly what I would be doing with my time, with my life. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to do what I love for a living.
What started 15 years ago with 5 kids has turned into a beautiful staff of 20 that serves over 1,000 children a week and has served now well over 20,000.
I went on to create Let’s Give Them A Shot!, a non-profit organization that helps kids get the sports instruction they need regardless of whether or not they can afford it. My goal is to teach and reach as many children as I can through sports.
If you have a child and that child wants to play sports then I want to be his or her first coach!