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UWANTGAME summit chooses N.O. to host summit during final four weekend

26th March 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Kelly Parker
Contributing Writer

Though March Madness culminates in the Crescent City with the NCAA college basketball championship taking place in the Superdome this week, it’s not the only game in town.

GameBreakers, a summit organized by UWANTGAME, takes place April 1 at Dillard University. The event, which is supported by the Open Society Foundation’s Campaign for Black Male Achievement, gets underway at 9 a.m.

The mission of the UWANT­GAME mentoring program is to pair high school student-athletes with consistent accountability partners who’ve already traveled the same paths. Overcoming sports injuries, juggling academic responsibilities with athletic responsibilities, enduring rigorous practices, managing confidence issues, and preparing for post-college life are all things that successful former college student-athletes have encountered during their careers, thus making them ideal mentors. This groundbreaking event will allow legendary coaches, professional athletes, and college athletes will gather to share their wisdom and experiences with Black male high school student-athletes and high school coaches.

The UWG Mentoring Program provides comprehensive three-year enrichment programs (typically for 10th – 12th graders) who ‘really want to advance to the next level.’

By properly equipping a significant number of African-American males with solid social, physical, athletic, and academic skills, UWANTGAME believes the result will produce more inspired citizens; improve the quality of collegiate athletic programs; increase the level of play of American athletes in the global arena; and create more qualified future sports executives.

Local high school athletes, coaches, and youth development experts will gather in New Orleans for a student-athlete summit using sports to bolster young Black males’ confidence, education, and positive self-image. A roster of well-known figures from the sports world are set to be on hand for the event; including ESPN’s Mike Hill, who will lead the summit’s interactive workshops and panel discussions on personal, professional and academic development. There’s a workshop series for student-athletes and a separate series for coaches; each following the format of a basketball game with (quarters). Topics covered include academics, player development, nutrition, and self-branding and leadership. Q-93’s Wild Wayne is scheduled as one of the emcees of the inaugural event. “We choose media members who have a passion giving back and for the overall development of student-athletes.” says UWANT­GAME executive director, Joe Branch.

According to Branch, area student-athletes and coaches have been invited from Edna Karr, O. Perry Walker, McDonogh 35, Newman, St. Augustine, KIPP Renaissance and Miller McCoy high schools.

“Athletics is an excellent platform for building up young men,” he adds. “Many have what it takes to play well and compete on the playing field, but off it, they struggle. GameBreakers is meant to help young men succeed not just in sports, but in the classroom, their homes, and employment.”

Almost 80 percent of Black males participate in organized sports. Coaches typically become mentors and huge influencers in their lives and need better tools to help them navigate complex life issues.

“As a football coach, I know about that desire to reach young athletes and mold them into men,” said Frontline Solutions’ Micah Gilmer, who is leading the GameBreakers coaching workshops. “We want to address that desire by offering a series of workshops tailored to coaches.”

“Our school is extremely happy to join with GameBreakers and allow our student-athletes a second to none experience in terms of reaching the next level of success,” Edna Karr High School athletic director Roch Weil­baecher said.

In preparation for the next level of accomplishment, the partnership is planned to continue well after the summit. The immediate goal of GameBreakers is to establish a year-long mentor relationship between student-athletes and former collegiate athletes and to develop a system of support staff for high school coaches and college coaches so that young Black male student-athletes receive the mentoring and direction that prepares them to achieve academic, professional, and personal success.

For the complete summit agenda and more information on UWANTGAME, go to www.u­want­­game.org/­game­breakers.

This article was originally published in the March 26, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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