In today’s fast-paced world, filled with screens and digital distractions, getting kids involved in physical activities has never been more important. Youth sports not only promote physical fitness but also instill crucial life skills that contribute to personal growth and development. To understand the impact of youth sports and the essence of the National Academy of Athletics (NAofA), we sat down with Ben Freeland, an Area Captain at the NAofA, whose passion for sports has driven him to make a positive difference in the lives of young athletes.
Ben’s journey with sports began at an early age, with tee-ball being his first sporting endeavor at the tender age of 4. Throughout his childhood, he engaged in various sports such as basketball, baseball, and golf. However, it wasn’t until his freshman year of high school that he decided to focus solely on basketball. The love for sports was deeply ingrained in him, from the thrill of competition to the drive to continuously improve.
One fond memory that stands out is his San Francisco Giants Dream Day in 3rd grade. What was supposed to be a dentist appointment turned into a day full of drills, playing, and learning from some of the greats, leaving a lasting impression on young Ben.
Ben’s dream of going pro in basketball turned into a reality through relentless hard work and dedication. Sacrifices were made as he skipped outings with friends to ensure he stayed committed to his training regimen. The journey taught him invaluable life lessons that he now imparts in the NAofA programs – nothing is guaranteed, and success comes to those who work hard and smart.
While the experience of living abroad and playing professionally was incredible, Ben eventually felt a longing to return home, seeking the next chapter in his life.
Serendipity played a role in Ben’s discovery of the NAofA. A chance encounter with the NAofA secretary led to an introduction to Aaron Locks, who offered him an opportunity to run basketball camps. Ben’s desire to be a coach stemmed from the significant impact his own coaches had on his life. He wanted to bring those experiences and valuable lessons back to his community.
Ben’s journey as a coach was short-lived as he quickly transitioned into managing as a Corporate Area Captain. Witnessing the advantages of becoming a partner after securing his first PE contract, he decided to purchase a territory.
Building and growing the territory required tremendous effort and dedication. Starting with offering a limited number of programs and running them himself, Ben aimed to rebuild relationships with the local community. He invested in building a strong team, emphasizing the importance of hiring the right people. Eventually, his hard work and commitment led to the expansion into another territory.
Ben’s passion for coaching and mentoring has resulted in significant positive impacts. He has witnessed remarkable growth in his staff and the children who have consistently attended the NAofA programs year after year. Being recognized and greeted by kids in his town reflects the lasting impact they experience at the NAofA programs, where they not only have fun but also create memorable moments.
Youth sports play a crucial role in a child’s growth and development. They teach essential life skills such as teamwork, work ethic, collaboration, and goal achievement. Moreover, there is a positive correlation between physical exercise and academic performance.
Ben advises parents to expose their children to various sports rather than pushing them to specialize in one at a young age. Allowing kids to explore different activities helps them find what they truly love and develops transferable skills that can be applied across various disciplines.
“What sets the NAofA apart is its genuine Win-Win approach. The organization is not solely focused on profits but aims to make sports accessible to everyone. Their belief in teaching valuable life lessons through positive experiences sets them apart. The NAofA goes beyond being just sports providers; they act as mentors and role models, creating a lasting impact on young athletes’ lives” said Ben.
In conclusion, Ben Freeland’s journey from a passionate athlete to an Area Captain at the National Academy of Athletics is a testament to the power of youth sports and the positive impact they can have on individuals and communities alike. Through the NAofA’s Win-Win attitude and dedication to fostering valuable life skills, they continue to shape the lives of young athletes, inspiring them to reach new heights both on and off the field.