Thursday, March 23, 2017

Why Next Level Skills was Created (Remix)

Next Level Skills: A Gateway for Young Basketball Players
Written by Octavio Parral | @t_voloco

“Be the change in the world you wish to see.” – Mahatma Ghandi

Coach Jeremy Pope teaching his trainees a few drills- Photo Cred: Dorina Pope
An idea can be a simple thought. It can happen at any moment and once the idea pops, courses of action take place. That’s what happened when I, Jeremy Pope, was sitting in my car thinking what I was going to do with my life. I had just quit my job and the road I saw coming was unclear. All I knew was that I wanted to make a change. Be something positive for people to follow. Help those in need.

Basketball is my life. Growing up a kid from Westerville, Ohio, I hooped all the time. I remember hitting up the parks with my friends or lighting up the three pointers at Westerville-South High School. I was good enough to land a scholarship at Goshen College and lead a life that was unexpected.

Playing sports in a college can do that to a person. It can take someone out the projects, where it’s highly likely to get shot, into a nice, modern gym shooting jumpers. I didn’t grow up in the projects but basketball was my way into changing my life for the better.

Sitting in that car, I ran back videos in my head of what my life had consisted of. Many times did I dribble the ball through my leg, attack the basket, laughed with my teammates, grinded in my sports management classes, died after coach made us run 1000 suicides, and thought about how blessed I am to be playing the sport I love. My idea began to brew.

The next week my phone vibrated. It was a notification from the ESPN app. Three Notre Dame football players had been dismissed from the university for possession of weapons and drugs. Dorina, my lovely wife, saw the negativity in my face after I read the article. She asked what was wrong. College athletes getting kicked out of school; now, that’s a big no-no.

26% of college athletes lose their athletic scholarship in less than a year. Scholarships are mostly one-year commitments and schools have the option whether to renew them or not. Thinking about this, stories I’ve heard from former college athletes, my knowledge of recruiting and college admissions at Goshen College, and my passion for basketball, I finally found my idea.

Next Level Skills is that idea turning into reality—turning into a positive change. After speaking with family, friends, and mentors, the vision of Next Level Skills began to develop.
Basketball, college-readiness training, and mentoring would be the driving force. Kids, like me, will get to experience a life-changing course.

Boom, I had my first player in August of 2016. He believed in the process I had to offer and he trusted the content of my character. This player is a 6'2 sharp shooter that I currently have averaging 20 points per game. His 3.9 GPA with all AP and Honors classes make him a college recruiter’s dream. We walked through the recruiting process and now he is being recruited by NCAA Division II and NAIA schools.

Be the change in the world you wish to see. I want to see kids go to school and be successful, much like I did.
Coach Jeremy Pope after a basketball drill- Photo Cred: Dorina Pope

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