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LovePrints. Lessons from New Jersey

Great families make great people. Great people make great families.

Love Out Loud.

My love for sports is documented. What I get to share from it are the people who helped shape me, my love for the games we play and played, and how far life takes us with the love that we share in it. In my younger days, I knew early on that sports would play a big part of my life, I just did not know how or where. I did know that it called to me, and along the way, people fed it so that it could grow.

We all have those people who left an imprint on us. I use this vehicle as a way to say thank you to some folks who did more than they knew, a lot with a little, and helped carve a place in who I became later in life. I had an older cousin who lived in East Orange, New Jersey. My aunt would bring him down with his two sisters, and he and I figured out that we both loved sports. He loved it in a way that made me love it more.

We would go to the playground and have at it. The universe is funny, I do not recall ever playing him when anyone else was ever at the court, and these courts were ALWAYS busy. This was a good thing, as he would take me to basketball class. Even at a young age, I knew that I wanted to know more of the game, but my cousin was worldly, even then. His game was different than mine. It was COOLER. It was my introduction to a thing that did not have a name yet. In the early 70’s, he would hit me with this thing that I thought was illegal, but deadly. THE CROSSOVER. He would spin and call out THE PEARL! He would tell me about Earl Monroe and Clyde Frazier, (no, he did not call him Walt, he was CLYDE) and he would mimic the Wilt Reed free throw jumper. I had no idea that this was a thing, you could shoot the same shot as a free throw and get two points instead of one. My cousin would call out Cazzie Russell, and then he would blow my mind with this one-handed move he had learned while in Jersey. It was this swooping underhanded to overhanded dip of a thing. He said it was the move of this young cat that played in New Jersey for the Nets. Apparently, there was this place in New York called RUCKER PARK, and this young cat changed the game by the way he played it. HE WAS COOLER than everyone else. Some cat named JULIUS ERVING. They called him the DOCTOR because of the way he operated on the court. MIND BLOWN. Tell me more….

He was the great reporter. He would warn me about the NY Mets being good enough to beat the powerful Baltimore Orioles. (They did). He boasted that the lowly New York Jets would beat the unbeatable Baltimore Colts. (They did). He forecasted the power of the Yankees when they signed Reggie Jackson, and he introduced me to the world of WOR, home of New York sports.

One summer, I got to spend the week in New Jersey. My goodness, I learned so much. The world was faster there, it was bigger there, and the people were louder there. I was introduced to this game called PASS OUT, where kids would press against another kid’s stomach until they would drop. I also got to play baseball at their rec league, and I remember being thankful that he would drag me along and let me play with his team. They were bigger, stronger, and more experienced. I learned to put the ball in play and use my speed. I also learned about big league baseball in an up and close way. It mattered more THERE it seemed.

His mother was always a big voice with lots of advice. She loved loud, proud, and constantly. His little sister always seemed tougher than all the boys in our family. Its like she knew something we didn’t.  And his older sister may have been the wisest of all. I always knew that I would be smarter every time I was around her. She constantly added to. Maybe it was a family thing. My cousin seemed to do that too. He does not say much these days, but I hear him loudly on a regular basis. I can absolutely say that my love for sports would not be what it is without you.

Thank you, cuz.

I appreciate you more than you know.

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LovePrints-Letters from a player. Thank you.

Great players make great people. Great people make great players.

Love in Action. Action in love. Love out loud.

As a coach, we are given a great responsibilities. Be worth following. Have something of value to say. Be worthy of each young mans future and potential. Be the quality of person that they should aspire to be. Be there for them, in the present and in the future. Love them as your own.

Our wishes as coaches generally run from love of themselves, love of others, respect for them both, and the ability to recognize the value of this. We wish for health, happiness, joy, wisdom, and love. We wish for their best, their opportunities, and their future. We hope that they know that we care, that they should care, and to show them how.

Every once in a while, life hands us a living breathing example of why we do what we do. A young person physically grows, emotionally aspires, mentally pursues, and lovingly achieves some of the things on our wish list. They reach, they grab, they acquire. They gather, stand, and extend. And, they love. Out loud.

When a young person takes the time to reach out and share a piece of themselves, you have reached them. It is not always easy for them, comfortable for them, or a part of their nature. When they do, stop what you are doing, pay attention, and listen. Something real is about to be said.

This letter is wind for the sails. It is a reminder that seeds planted with love, grow in love. It is a reminder that sharing strength makes us all stronger. It is a reminder that sharing weaknesses does not make us all weaker. It makes us stronger. It is a reminder that the seeds grow and blossom, even if they are not in sight, they are in spirit. This letter is why we do this.

I get to cheer on my young people as they fall in life, stumble in life, trip in life, and scar themselves. I also get to cheer them on as they gather themselves, stand up, right themselves, and move on, forward and up.

This letter belongs in praise. What God can do for our loved ones, and for us. This letter is a statement of the power of love, the depth of love, and the strength of connection. I am thanking God for his hands on this young man and his family. I am applauding his heart, soul, and spirit. I am thanking him for thanking me. What God did, I am thankful for. What he has planned for this young man has got to be some kind of wonderful.

He is thanking me. I am thanking him. We are both thanking God.

Say your thank you’s out loud. Say them often. Say them freely. They are powerful. They are good. They are love, and loved.


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LovePrints Robert Smith-A life of LovePrints

Loveprints should begin at home, and in my case, it was wearing a huge smile and running shoes. Robert Smith was larger than life to me, in his ability to bring the world into our house, and to hold our hand while leading us into the world. I remember watching him refuse to have his Black Knights football jersey cut off when they tried to treat the broken collarbone he injured in a game. I thought, THAT is awesome! I remember seeing him with free weights in the back yard, and asking why it made him faster. (It made him STRONGER, which made him faster). I recognized early that he was a student, AND an athlete, and that the two should be working together. And, he made being moved in service cool. I wanted to know more about Christ, service, and purpose.

He would travel to races and come home with t shirts from wherever he went. I began to search those places out and wonder if I would ever go there. What would it take to walk in his footsteps? What has he seen and done while he was there? What will it take for me to do the things that he has done? He was photographed, interviewed, and followed. And yes, he was popular.


He was an amazing athlete. Olympic Trials in sprinting, College All American. Program changer. He went on to become a community leader, a husband, father, and favorite son. He is a leader of spirits, a calming presence, and the glue that keeps his family and others together. He simply is love walking, talking, and in action.

What he did was show me the road out of our neighborhood. He showed me how academics were important, and he showed me that I could see the world because he had. He made me dream of bigger things, be curious about life, and to be decent while pursuing those things. He taught me to be a better brother, son, and man. His LovePrints are all over me and mine. I had to share him with you all. He is too amazing to keep to myself. I hope that you had a hero in your house. I sure am thankful for him. Love in action. Action in love.

Posted in Giving Back, Good Sports, Testimonials and Stories
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Coach Will Hawes is love and faith in action. LovePrints everywhere.


Today I’m grateful for this man.. most people call him “Coach”, but Will Hawes is so much more then that. He has been so much to so many people. To me he’s been a friend and a mentor. We’ve had some incredible talks about his life experiences, his walk with God and I’ve picked his brain when I needed advice about something. We met when we both worked at LCA. He was a teacher, coach and mentor. Like me, he was also a host parent to many kids over the years. His heart was to pour into their lives and show them God’s love. One particular young man from Germany completely did a 180 largely because of the love, commitment and time Will spent pouring into his life. Will often wasn’t given the opportunity to run with the ideas he had and I don’t feel he was really fully given the chance to do what his heart wanted to do, which was take kids under his wing and love and mentor them. But he’s gone on to continue and further his God given gift of teaching, mentoring, preaching and unconditional love to touch the lives of those he comes in contact with. I’m proud and honored to have worked with him for the same cause. And although I don’t see he and his wife Kathryn much anymore, I’ll always consider them dear friends and I have no doubt that wherever he is or whatever he’s doing, Will is pouring into the lives of kids and doing what he knows how to do. Love God and love people. I’m thankful for you my friend. Thank you for being down in the trenches with me and doing it with such joy and passion. -Linda Gross
This letter was shared with me, so I am sharing it with you. Here is why:
When you measure a man, start where you will, and end up where you will, but get to the heart. In the case of Will Hawes, no matter where you start or finish, inside or out, into the heart and outward, he is LARGE. Almost superhuman. And the energy that hits you from him, even from a distance, is all consuming. He is part Giant, part elf, and all purpose. He possesses a spirit that is only out-shined by his his over sized shadow, which is there as a signal of attention before he gets there, and a reminder of his path crossing yours afterwards. And no matter what the path led, it would be forever changed and bettered by your crossing his.
An athlete of talent, drive, and IQ to match his imposing height and mass. A wrecking ball of manhood, and the ability to set a foundation with it for all of those in his orbit to base their direction and purpose with. To call him a gentle giant might be a disservice to his ability to wreak havoc on nonsense and malaise. He is all love, and often, love is loud. It is often forceful. It is often driven and direct. And in that, is brilliance. The kind of brilliance that changes paths and direction, that changes ways and meanings, that changes lives and living.
As a leader of young people, he goes first. He has gone first. And that is leadership. That is command. That is needed. He makes it easy for those in his charge to trust. He makes it easy for them to believe. He makes it easy for them to be authentic. Most importantly, he makes it easier for them to love and be loved. He cheers truth and character. He understands flaws and mistakes, but redirects and leads anew, and that is from his heart.

He loves. He cares. He matters. And, he is authentic. As a coach, he is in it for the right reasons. He loves. He cares. He matters. He is authentic.

My brother. My Brother’s Keeper. My man. My dude. My partner in love crimes. His LovePrints are covering the world in love. And he is covered in them.
Thank you Linda. Thank you Coach.
We need and love you both!
Posted in Coaching, Edcuators, Good Sports, Parents, Testimonials and Stories, Weekly LovePrints
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Dr. John Butler shares his LovePrint

Dr. John Butler shares his LovePrints and wisdom. 

Posted in Giving Back, Testimonials and Stories
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Coach Barry Thompson on LOVEPRINTS

“I know there is nothing I can say that would make you feel what that makes me feel. So I will say thank you. And that you need to continue to share your light with the world. Because you are truly making a difference in not only my life, but many others as well. Just amazing. What’s simple is true…❤️ #loveprint”

Posted in Coaching, Edcuators, Good Sports, Testimonials and Stories
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Where is your LovePrint

Over his lifetime Coach Pearson has met some of the most incredible young men and women. He has shared with you his LovePrint and always want to hear how you are doing. Tell has your experience with the coach helped you or how did you pass it on?

Posted in Giving Back, Testimonials and Stories

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