Thinkofone's Blog

One person's thoughts may change the world

The Panther dad part 1

black_panther_spainBy now, we have heard of the winning formula for producing a superior student. The Asian Tiger Mom, full of things to do and not to do to ensure the proper and superior education for your child.  No school plays she says. Violin or Piano only please. Tennis or swimming, no contact sports. Beating your child into submission to do their work to scorer that 36 on the ACT, anything else is a failure. On the flip side, many  Black students or shall I say, student athletes,  aspire to for a D1 scholarship with the same kind of passion. Endless practice sessions. Additional training and nutrition. AAU basketball and track. They are picked early and cultivated athletically. Ive even met a fellow coach who picked his current wife based upon her height, hmmm. There is a whole infrastructure around it.  Well,  I have a clear message to all of you who invest a lot of  your time in sports, whether it’s basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, football, track, or hockey. There is a wealth of opportunity at the D3 level. Did you hear me? A wealth of opportunity at the D3 level. It is so much of an opportunity that after reading this, if you have a son or daughter at an early enough age, you should target  them for those kinds of institutions. The target is much wider. Bigger, broader, and greater opportunity, yet, it’s not completely understood. The vast majority of your D3 schools are some of the best institutions in the world. Shhhhh, it’s a quietly kept little secret.

Oh joy, your son or daughter is born. Are you ready? Do you realize the financial responsibility? The moral leadership you must provide for your child and family? The absolute single mindedness you have to have in order to pull out the talent and opportunity out of your child and the world around them?  The mere presents of your influence will be the difference of your child making it in a very complex and challenging world. You and your race ( black people that is ) has been a case study for quite some time. You’re a trillion dollar spending machine, waiting to throw your money down the abyss of someone else’s pocketbook. You spend more per person than any other race. Through rap music and video, products, commercials, video games, and absolute products on nothing to do with education at all, you have been broken down at the micro-celluar level of being analyzed.  If you live in a challenging environment, full of corner liquor stores and diminished school systems, or a suburban environment full of underachieve kids, or a high profile and dynamic learning environment, the proper education of your child is solely up to you, period, and not the school system. Did you hear me? You my dear friend. The school is not a place to put your child and magically dump a brain load of information to them on a daily basis.     But, there is a simple path, one which you can follow, regardless of your education or background. Even if you’re oblivious of what examples to follow, or have nothing to show as a template, your child’s birth may be the difference maker of how you and your child will be more capable of handling the serious yet exciting challenges the world has to offer.

The first thing I want you to remember is, there is going to be a very, very challenging world out there for your sons and daughters. Second, I strongly, and I mean strongly suggest exposing them to as much and as many educational opportunities as possible. Third, a very good cub scout/ boy scout, brownie/girl scout troop is highly encouraged. The reason? They reinforce all of the life lessons that you already teach. Making your bed, cleaning your room, taking responsibility, camping, gun safety, goals, listening to your parents,  scout rank, and  merit awards. Go to every single one of your parent/teacher conferences. Even if your son or daughter is having a challenging time, it shows the teacher you care, and they will work with you to help education your offspring. I also strong suggest playing an instrument, any instrument, and perhaps start them out with the Suzuki method on violin. I’m I starting to sound like the tiger mom? Hell no. Suzuki teaches by sound and fingerings first, and worries about note reading later. Sound is what everyone has already built into them. The Suzuki method teaches stance, music, articulation, music appreciation, and purpose. 10-20 minutes per evening. Friday and Saturday off. Most music programs in schools start in the 5th grade or middle school. I don’t care what instrument your child picks at that point, they will be ready for it. If they want to play the piano, an inexpensive keyboard can be purchased used off of Craig’s list. Learn to play the instrument with them. Go to youtube for a quick free lesson.  Make sure they sign up for it, and hold them accountable.

2012-01-15 23.02.36

Of course I’m making a lot of assumptions. You have time, energy, money, creativity, and all that other good stuff to make this work. I don’t know your situation, and I don’t care. When I say I don’t care, what I mean is, whatever it is, you’re going to have to make this work, irregardless. An excuse just allows you to get out of your responsibility, and hurt your child’s chances. If you notice, I have not said a word about sports so far, it’s irrelevant at this point. Your child’s competition, whether they are in a suburban school system, a private school, home schooled, or half way around the planet, is doing this stuff or some form of it, if they understand the process. They may have better resources, better surroundings, better stuff. So what, I’m tired of people looking at other people and saying, “if only I had what they had, I’d be better”.  Fuck that, and fuck them. If you notice, many third world nations produce top rate students, and even if you’re in a lower class in this country, you have more than them.  You have what you have, now lets go to work with it.


There is a wonderful program in Detroit, and it’s called DAPCEP. It stands for Detroit Area Pre-College engineering Program. It’s been around for a while now, over 35 years. It exposes kids from 4th grade through 12th grade different aspects of engineering.  It meets on Saturdays during the school year. It gives your child exposure to science, and engineering. My recommendation is find a similar program in your area, and they’re there, and get your child into it. Usually no fee or a very small fee to get in, and they occur during the school year and sometimes provide busing to it as well as a lunch. DO IT. Another program that is around this counry ( the United States that is ), and that’s Horizon Upward bounds. I’m not sure if it’s in every major city, but it is in a lot of them. Get your child enrolled in that program, they do their own program of science, english, math for many grades and also have summer programs… FREE. I suggest you strongly look into program like these and stay with them, until your child graduates.

Next, get Saxon math. Saxon math is a teaching method, created by John Saxon. It involves teaching a new mathematical concept every day and constantly reviewing old concepts. I’ve used it to supplement my children’s math concepts,  during the school year, and introduce new methods over the summer to get them ready for the fall. Saxon math is a valuable tool, and if it is too expensive to purchase it, go to ebay or craig’s list to find used books. Go in with it with another parent and purchase the books and share using the materials together. Find a way to use this stuff cause John Saxon is “the man” as far as I’m concerned, he’s created a wonderful tool for you to use. 20 additional minutes every night. Trust me on this one, your child’s math challenge will be solved by supplementing their work with these books.  They are categorized by grade.  USE IT.

Lego Robotics. If you have a science and engineering program in your area ( DAPCEP, Horizon upward bounds), or the school your child is in has robotics, get them in it. The elementary school my sons attended did not have a Lego’s robotics program, so I got funding to purchase several robots and taught the after school class. The tutorial was fairly simple, and anyone can teach it, it’s a combination of building things, designing things, visually programming things, and getting it to work. It is amazing what kinds of ideas come out of it with the kids. If this is available in your area, get your kid in it. If not, and you have the the COURAGE, create the after school class for the school and teach it yourself. Some of my best students were kids who weren’t even interested in robotics, one was a young lady who wanted to be an artist. Her thinking was abstract and open, and allowed her to think out of the box.

Your daily regiment could go as follows. Start them off with a good breakfast.  Drive them to school or get them to the bus stop. Pick them up from school and go to your afternoon activity (music, dance, karate, scouts, sports, etc). Drive them home, get them a good meal, do home work, practice their instrument, additional math, then bath and bed. No games or TV during the week, you have no time, you’re raising a student athlete/warrior poet. If you’re single, tough luck, deal with it. If you’re married, get your spouse on the same page  with this, deal with that as well. Pack there equipment in the car that evening or the morning before you take off. If they are headed for a sport, change in the bathroom before you leave the school, saves time.

Now again, if you’ve noticed, I have not mentioned sports much. And there is a reason why. Your job is to make sure they get their educational, musical, and study habits in place. Start out with the introduction with sports slowly, with your local league sport, or the YMCA. The YMCA is an important tool as well. First, the drawback is,  they are all crowded. Second, they offer a variety of sports, swimming and other activities that require only one or two days a week of participation. Three, it’s noncompetitive fun for the most part. Fourth, it’s relatively inexpensive. ( their summer program are different, they are expensive).  The Y starts out with T-ball, which is usually coached by a parent, lots of fun, and non competitive. Their basketball and flag football is the same. Fair warning, your timeline will begin to get tight, so I strongly suggest keeping a set of gym clothing for your kid or kids in the car at all times when going to practice and games. They also offer soccer, basketball, etc, depending on the area you live in. But more importantly, get them participating and get them active in as many sport disciplines, allowing them the opportunity to find several sports they’d like to continue in. But most of all, make it fun for them, even if they are just a role player on the team, it’s important that they feel like their parents are cheering them on, even when most have not gained all of their manual dexterity yet.


Then comes the age of 8. The dreaded age of 8. The dividing line. At this age, the fun stops, and the competitive nature begins. I tell most parents of young children, “Your child’s last year of just having fun at sports ends at 8”. Do you want to know why? Because in the United States, parents, for a variety of reason, start their kids on the competitive track, especially in sports like baseball, soccer and basketball. Baseball is a refined sport, long in history, and technique. I like to prefer baseball as an individual sport, with team aspects. League sports of baseball, soccer, football, begin. Cleats, uniforms, tennis rackets baseball mitts, practice pants,  bats, and many stops at the batting cage. Oh and how about all that free time you will have on the weekend to get up to the field or tennis court and refine your child’s skills, sometimes just after going to their school enrichment program on Saturday.  And here is where you’re going to have to do even more to help your child, and others succeed. You’re going to have to coach, if you can.


Ouch, I know, that probably did not go over to well. Many of you are probably not former athletes, so your first out is, “I didn’t play the sport”. Again, it’s an excuse. There are plenty of coaching and technique books out there to help you be a serviceable coach. Plus you can always go to youtube.  You don’t have to be head coach, just an assistant coach. Be a bench coach in baseball, making sure the kids don’t play with their bats while waiting their turn to bat. Help with organizing parents for snacks and team activities. Get to know parents so perhaps you can get hand me down shoes or other equipment you may need in the future. Maximize for possibilities for you kid, and yourself.  And that is where the next lesson learned for you is, the two people who I looked to and read about that made a difference in the lives of their children. The two I’m talking about are Richard Williams and Earl Woods.

To me, they are the two bad asses of fathers on the planet who have coached their children, period. Richard Williams, in my opinion, shook up the tennis world while taking his daughters to the tennis courts in Compton, yes, Compton, California. Richard Williams was a former sharecropper, who taught his daughters tennis from reading books and watching video for instruction.  At times, they practiced on courts with missing nets. They followed a non conventional path to tennis ( stayed in school while others left and got a tudor). What did he help his daughters produce from this?  Well, look at the following:

Venus Serena
Highest singles
No. 1
(February 25, 2002)
No. 1
(July 8, 2002)
Highest doubles
No. 1
(June 7, 2010)
No. 1
(June 7, 2010)
Women’s Singles titles: 44 50
Women’s Doubles titles: 21 22
Grand Slam
Women’s Singles titles:
(Wimbledon 2000/01/05/07/08,
US Open 2000/01)
(Aus Open 2003/05/07/09/10,
French Open 2002/13,
Wimbledon 2002/03/09/10/12,
US Open 1999/2002/08/12/13)
Grand Slam
Women’s Doubles titles:
(Aus Open 2001/03/09/10,
French Open 1999/2010,
Wimbledon 2000/02/08/09/12,
US Open 1999/2009)
(Aus Open 2001/03/09/10,
French Open 1999/2010,
Wimbledon 2000/02/08/09/12,
US Open 1999/2009)
Grand Slam Mixed
Doubles titles:
(Aus Open 1998,
French Open 1998)
(Wimbledon 1998,
US Open 1998)
Plays: Right-handed
(two-handed backhand)
(two-handed backhand)

Now, this is a feat that will never be accomplished in human history again, period. I admire Richard Williams pure will, and determination to produce to energetic, smart, educated, well balanced, beautiful bad ass daughters who can whip your ass on the tennis court, period. They have their own fashion lines, have some very good investments, endorse by many product lines, live uneventful and fruitful lives, share the wealth with their family, frugal,  have partial ownership of the Miami Dolphins, I can go on and on about there exploits. When I go to my local sports complexes, I generally seem many Asian and Asian Indian parents out there working with their kids, hitting the ball to them, trying to get them to use their forehand and backhand swings. In south Korea, the same thing goes on with golf, which has begun to show their exploits of training their children, especially young girls, to be very, very good at golf. In my personal opinion, they go a little over board, but, they are beginning to dominate the woman’s golf world. These kids live very disciplined lives,  getting good grades in school, and hours on the golf range. I believe this is part of the Tiger Woods effect.

Tiger Woods is another phenomenal athlete. Best golfer of his era, and perhaps best golfer ever. Errol Woods, his father planted the seed of golf at an early age for him. He would take Tiger in the garage with him and hit balls  into the net while Tiger watched from his high chair. Tiger was exposed early on, and gained a love of the sport from his father. His exploits are too many to pontificate on here, but, I think you get my message. Both William and Errol worked with their children to help them succeed at a very high level, highest in the world. Now, you could follow their same script, and come out with a totally different outcome. Why? Well, it’s called “time in space”. The right time, right circumstances, the right opportunity, the right etc… There have been an extreme amount of children who has been worked with by their parents and they have not achieved a thing. Some, like Michelle Wei, was pushed very hard by two very wealthy parents, have had mixed results. Started playing golf at the age of 4.  She turned pro before the age of 16. Had a long ball that was out of this world. Made millions before winning a tournament. But then her age showed. Too young and too soon. Her “space in time” was not to be. She decided to go to school, and go a similar route of Tiger Woods, trying to play and win at the college level before trying pro again.

The point I’m making is, push too hard, and you may get mixed results. The goal is a good mix of educational opportunities and using sports as a tool to give balance to it. If you notice, colleges have this “thing” called the holistic approach to accepting students into their universities. “We don’t look at just grade and ACT scores, we look at the whole student”. Whole means extracurricular, music, community service, work, athletics, rigorous course work and more. So if your son or daughter is blessed with the “eye candy” test ( has all the right physical attributes coach are looking for ), it’s not enough to be a good student and a great athlete. Getting into the University of Michigan is one thing, but getting into their college of engineering while playing a division one sport is another.

Now you may think I got off topic here, but I’m making a point about balance when it comes to athletics. You have to spark the interest of your sons and daughters academically first before diving into the world of sports as a tool to keep them motivated. At that magical age of 8, the competition begins, and just like when the United States and the Soviet Union were locked into the arms race, you’ll find yourself doing the same. Training, new bats, balls, shoes, trying to get your kid the best so they can compete. It equally has to happen on the academic side. Science programs, tutoring ( I advise doing as much as you can on your own ), supplemental work that is engaging and fun try:, and  awesome place to find all sorts of books, workbooks, homeschooling tools, etc.

OK enough for now, part 2 of the patherdad coming up. Oh by the way 14 of 120 division 1 schools showed a positive net as of 2009. Remember this, Division 1 sports, especially football and basketball is a business, period. Never forget that….


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This entry was posted on November 24, 2013 by in Inner thoughts, Sports, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , .
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