Yesterday was our first workout of 2018.
I picked up Jeff at 9:30 am for our Saturday workout. It was two hours later than usual, but for the first workout of the year I decided to let the day warm a bit. I didn't know how cold it was but with the bright sun shining, it was warmer than the 38 degrees I saw on the weather report when I woke up at 7:00.
As we pulled into Chris' complex, the first thing I noticed was the repaved parking lot and the speed bump that ruined cars was gone. Nice work. As we parked in front of Chris' building I thought it odd all the spots were open except one. Chris' home was a two bedroom apartment for him, his four siblings and both parents. That's seven people in a two bedroom apartment. Chris is the oldest, and he consistently earns straight As as an eighth grader, despite the less-than-ideal studying conditions. I called Chris to let him know we were waiting in front. The call went straight to voice mail. I was about to ask Jeff to knock on Chris' front door when I noticed an orange piece of paper on the window. In large print it read, "Notice of Vacant Unit," with smaller print below. There wasn't any of the usual clutter in the front door window. Their place was empty.
I called Shanta to see if she knew anything. Shanta Barton-Stubbs is the founder and Executive Director of New Image Youth Center in Orlando, Florida, the best kept secret in Orlando where each of the boys on The Give Team grew up. She hadn't heard anything about Chris' family and gave me the phone number for Chris' father. When I called, it also went straight to voice mail.
My last text exchange with Chris was now colored with concern. Two nights before, Chris let me know he didn't know if he'd be able to join the team call at 7:00 pm on Sunday. I asked if I it'd be easier if I moved the call to 8:00 pm. He wasn't sure if he'd have access to his phone.
We pulled away to pick up Paul with thoughts rattling between my ears about Chris and his family with the temperature hovering in the lower 40s.
We started the Spring 2018 season with a small crew, and performed an abbreviated workout. It was a slow start on our path to develop strength in what will be a phenomenal season. Compared to a year ago, The Give Team OCR program is coming together well. As a team, we have four coaches - me (Coach Mason) and Akim (an alumnus of, and current staff member at, NIYC) in Orlando, Florida, Greg who recently moved to south Florida, and Rob (also an alumnus of NIYC). We have four team members in Orlando with Jean, Paul, Jeff and Chris. And as of January 7th, we have two remote team members - Steve in Gainesville, Florida (an alumnus of NIYC) and Ryan in Des Moines, Iowa (a 20 year Marine Corps veteran, recently retired). During January we'll seek to grow the team here in Orlando and extend it to other parts of the country.
On Sunday, each team member will set two goals to accomplish by May 31 - (1) a physical goal; and (2) an academic or professional goal. Each team member will also set a DAILY RITUAL they'll perform for the entire month of January. That ritual will be aligned with one of the two goals for the season. It must be something done daily that isn't already being done. A new ritual will be selected for each month of the season.
We'll hold our team call Sunday night to discuss expectations for the season - what they should expect and what the team expects of them. We'll discuss what we have lined up for the spring 2018 season. It's going to be a powerful season, and we're thankful to all those who are taking part in our Give Team effort.
In 2018, we're honored to have the support of NinjaFit Gym (the team will participate in their workout program the third Saturday of every month), Garage Mama Fitness (our workout facility when available), Coach Pain (named Most Influential OCR Personality of 2017 by Mud Run Guide, and meeting with him at a warm up OCR on April 9th two weeks before our participation at Green Beret Challenge), members of the Orlando Police Department, and the Travis Manion Foundation (participation of an ambassador as guest coach and others potentially joining as members to run The Green Beret Challenge with us in Atlanta). We continue to seek sponsors and donors to fund the 2018 season, and be a part of the journey. We also continue to seek guest coaches to join us on any Saturday to share their stories of overcoming challenges.
In the meantime, know there are others dealing with significant challenges on their path to greatness. Some seek those challenges while some deal with unexpected challenges. We're proud of the members on our team and work with them every day to ensure they make decisions from a position of strength and address any challenge as opportunities to become even stronger. Thanks so much for the support of The Give Team community in those efforts.
I'll update you - the "Extended Give Team" - as I learn about Chris' family.
Be strong. Give more.
8 January 2018 UPDATE: I spoke with Chris. His cell phone isn't working, so he called me from his father's phone. They temporarily moved to another unit in the same complex. Not really sure what that means, or if anyone really knows. I guess everything we do is temporary, isn't it?
While millions travel to Orlando every year, few have heard of Parramore. Even fewer have visited. Based in the Parramore neighborhood, New Image Youth Center has played an important role in the development of each Give Team member. Two of the four coaches are alumni of the Center. One is a certified personal trainer and also serves as a staff member working with elementary school students. The other attends Auburn University as the youngest member of the PhD program in Computer Science. A third team member is currently a sophomore on a full academic scholarship to the University of Florida. Four more are currently in high school, with our youngest team member in eighth grade. We're looking to add five more for the spring of 2018.
Why are we a team?
Because life is a team sport. Draft accordingly.
If there's someone on your team who is getting in the way of your goals, kick them off. Conversely, seek those who have traveled the path you want to travel, learn how you can give value to them, introduce yourself, and learn from them.
Why are we the GIVE Team?
Shanta Barton-Stubbs, Founder and Executive Director of New Image Youth Center works with kids from elementary school through high school (and beyond), reinforcing key principles to guide their way. One principle is focused on gratitude and giving back. She teaches the kids, "No matter how little you have, you always have something to give." On our team, we take that to a personal level. If you think you've given everything you have, think again. You have more. If you're on the fourth mile of a five mile run and you're doing burpees every 1/4 mile, you might think you're done. But you're not done until you've finished that fifth mile. Give more.
No matter how little you think you have, you ALWAYS have something to give. So give more. Give a smile. Give a compliment. Give assistance. Give more focus. Give more effort. But whatever you do, give more.
The Give Team is about leadership, and you can't lead others until you master the ability to lead yourself. That's why EVERYONE participates in all events (goal setting, workouts and competitions), including the coaches. Members of the community are encouraged to participate. At the beginning of the season, each team member sets two goals: (1) A physical goal, because nothing is more honest than a physical goal. If you put in the work, you get the results; and (2) An academic or professional goal, since the greatest influence on the trajectory of lives (along with attitude and effort) is academic and / or professional performance. Every month, each team member will also select a new ritual to adopt aligned with their goals. The selected ritual will be performed every day that month.
We meet every Saturday at 7:30 am to participate in an intense workout. The workout is followed by breakfast where we address the leadership topic of the week, and discuss opportunities and challenges in the week ahead. At that time, the Workout of the Week is given to the team. The team is encouraged to perform the workout AT LEAST three times before the next Saturday, with extra recognition for those completing it every day. The Workout of the Week is intended to compliment any other planned workouts the team member has, whether for football, basketball, volleyball, the chess team, or the debate team. Give more.
To hold ourselves accountable, the team communicates daily via text message, Snapchat, and GroupMe. We also communicate monthly via conference call. The Give Team communicates to the extended team - the community - via blog posts on our website (http://www.giveteam.net), our Facebook page (@giveteam), Instagram account (@thegiveteam) and Twitter account (@keepgivingmore). Remote team members are welcome to join each season. For the Spring 2018 season, remote Give Team members reside in Auburn, AL, Gainesville, FL and Des Moines, IA. Monthly conference calls will be held with remote and local Give Team members.
The Give Team is proud to partner with Garage Mama Fitness in Winter Garden, Florida and NinjaFit Gym in Apopka, FL, where we'll be attending workouts at different points throughout the season. We also welcome guest coaches to participate in either the workout or breakfast (or both), and share their story of overcoming challenges or achieving greatness. This past fall, we welcomed Marine Corps veteran Larry Johns who has continued to be a valuable part of the New Image Youth Center family. In 2018, we look forward to working with ambassadors from The Travis Manion Foundation, fitness coach and motivational speaker Coach Pain (recently named The Most Influential Person in Obstacle Course Racing by Mud Run Guide), fitness athlete Marissa Herring, former NFL and NCAA defensive back Andre Martin and former Major League Baseball All Star and World Series Champion Johnny Damon.
Each season ends with an obstacle course race. At those races, we seek to expand the team by engaging with other race participants; a community that seeks obstacles, understanding pain is inevitable and it's the pain we seek that strengthens us. This season, we continue our relationship with The Green Beret Challenge where The Give Team will compete in Atlanta on May 5th.
Interested in learning more? Interested in participating? Interested in SPONSORING (we already have a $100 sponsor and $35 sponsor for the 2018, thanks to a couple December donations - and in return they will be receiving a GIVE TEAM WATER BOTTLE and WORKOUT SHIRT). Know someone who'd benefit or who could help our team along the path to greatness? Contact us at http://www.giveteam.net/contact.html and come join us for an amazing experience in 2018. As much as you give us, we'll give back in return. Give more.
Brad Mason is head coach of The Give Team, and a firm believer that no matter how little you think you have, you ALWAYS have something to give. So give more. Give more smiles, more compliments, more focus, and more effort.