Coaches, athletes mentor students on leadership

Former Michigan State basketball player Marquise Gray speaks to a group of student athletes about leadership at last Wednesday’s leadership summitt.

Former Michigan State basketball player Marquise Gray speaks to a group of student athletes about leadership at last Wednesday’s leadership summitt.

GRAND BLANC – It was an opportunity of a lifetime for several area students to gain many different perspectives on leadership last Wednesday at the Genesys Athletic Club in Grand Blanc. Some of the best coaches and athletes from around the Flint area showed up to mentor the group of young student athletes from 22 different high schools.

The cast of mentors included former Michigan State basketball star Marquise Gray, New Lothrop’s state championship wrestling coach Jeff Campbell, former Michigan Wolverine and New York Giant Andre Weathers, former three-sport athlete at Central Michigan Keith Richardson, Kearsley girls’ bowling coach Rob Ploof and Greater Flint Area Sports Hall of Fame board member Bill Troesken.

“Genesys Athletic Club has offered this program every year because leadership and sportsmanship are an integral part of an athlete’s life,” said Jim Mongrain, the operations manager at Genesys Athletic Club. “Our goal is to teach student athletes about leadership and sportsmanship on and off the field in order to build a strong framework of skills they can incorporate in all aspects of their life.

“Not just as a team leader, but as a classmate, friend, mentor and vital member of the community today and in the future. We are teaching them skills they can use for the rest of their life. And who better to teach these skills and serve as mentors than former athletes who are now community leaders.”

Students poured in from all over the area, including Atherton, Flint Beecher, Bendle, Bentley, Carman- Ainsworth, Clio, Corunna, Davison, Flint Northwestern, Flint Southwestern, Flint Powers Catholic, Flushing, Genesee, Goodrich, Grand Blanc, Flint Hamady, Holly, Kearsley, Lake Fenton, Linden, Mt. Morris, Montrose and New Lothrop.

However, there was more to the program than mentoring the young athletes. The kids also got the chance to work out at the athletic club with personal trainers helping them along the way. Several drills were conducted, including speed, agility, power and endurance drills.

Before the program began, within the tennis dome of the Genesys Athletic Club, many were in awe and stopped to take pictures with Gray as they remembered his days going to the Final Four with the Spartans. Gray was a high school All-American at Flint Beecher before his days in East Lansing and has now returned home as the after school activities coordinator at Beecher.

“Contrary to the opinion of many people, leaders are not born; leaders are made. They’re made by effort and hard work,” said Gray, referring to a quote from former NFL coach Vince Lombardi. “Those are words to live by. You have to be strong enough and smart enough to know when to lead and smart enough and strong enough to know when to step back.”

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