Friday, 06 March 2015 05:01

Presidents Pen March 2015

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This is Why I Do Grassroots!!!!! This is Why I Do Grassroots!!!!!

The President’s Pen
March 6, 2015


I realized that I hadn’t written a President’s Pen since March 28, 2013.  I wrote a piece called the Ode to the Class of 2014 & 2015.  You guys should check it out because it was pretty good, if I do say so myself.

Most of the ideas that pop into my head I immediately post on FB and I can get immediate responses, folks can comment and share and it is pretty cool, but just recently I thought about the value of the President’s Pen and I have committed to making at least one monthly update to address the most important ideas I want to communicate to you.

The site gives me the ability to check the hits so I can see how many people read it, but most importantly, it allows the information to stay fresh, and readily accessible for anyone who may run across it.  On FB the news feeds get pushed down and within a week, the thoughts have pretty much vanished.  The President’s Pen will be for the thoughts that I really don’t want to vanish.

So, here we go!!!! 

Sometimes I have businesspeople advise me not to waste time addressing the detractors and haters on FB and other places.  These are very focused and successful businessmen and they advise me to just ignore the detractors.  They are correct when they say that all successful people have detractors and we can’t afford to worry about them.  They assume that because from time to time I choose to address them that I am overly focused on them.

That is outstanding advice and I have heeded it.  But the last time I had a respected businessman tell me that, I pointed out to him that many times the reason that I respond is not because I am concerned about changing the minds of the haters.  I don’t expect that to happen, although I have had some success turning folks when they got to know me personally.  Rarely have I gotten any success from just posting thoughts.  When they look me in my eyes and hear my story and feel my sincerity, there have been a number of enemies that have actually become allies.

With that being said, converting folks was still never my main reason for addressing them.  It may seem as though I am addressing them but in reality I am not.  When I respond to the attacks, it is moreso because I know that many of those haters are in the ears of my parents and kids.  I address the nonsense because of the fact that so many of my parents who support Grassroots do so out of trust and faith, not necessarily because they understand why they have so much trust and faith in me and in us.

Many of them may have heard me speak at an event and were touched by something that I said.  Many of them felt my sincerity and my spirit.  Many of their kids have benefited from the league so they feel a sense of loyalty.  But rarely have the masses of them had a chance to really get to know me as a person.  There are just too many kids after 5 years to get as close as I would love to with all of my parents and kids.  Those are the ones that I am addressing when I respond to lies and attacks.

Anytime Jesus was crucified, who and the world am I to expect everybody to love me or what I am trying to do.  There are a number of very selfish people in this world, who want to control kids and parents. The last thing many of them want is for the status quo to be changed by me or anyone else for that matter.  I don’t even take the attacks personally anymore.  It is business to them and many see me and Grassroots as a threat to the status quo.  I get it.  But the parents are innocent.  So are the kids.  They don’t understand the politics behind all the drama.  They love the youth coaches that taught them the game and they should.  They are loyal to them and they should be.  But, they meet me and want to be a part of the Grassroots family as well and they should.  They should be able to blend their old family with the new family, which is what we want to do with all of our kids and parents.  For those organizations that are with us, we have proven that it can be done successfully.  But, there is still some resistance out there for those that don’t want to do this together.  They still have the parent’s ears.  So it is the parents that I am addressing whenever you see a FB Post that appears to be explaining to or trying to convert the haters.  I pray for the haters on one end, and they motivate me on the other.

This particular President’s Pen was inspired by a dear parent who is like a sister to me.  I won’t divulge her name but she will know as soon as she reads this.  She is the parent of a potentially elite young student athlete who has a chance to be exceptional if he sticks with us.  There are many former coaches and people in his ear and her ear that quite frankly are not happy that they have become a part of our family.

Believe it or not, there are even some disgruntled folks within our family that don’t have the most positive things to say.  I am not thrilled that family members are disappointed but I do understand.  Just like in every family, there can be dissension and disappointment.  Most of the parents that come into Grassroots come for their child to be successful.  Many of them have different definitions of success.  For some it is to get to a great High School, which is the right fit for their kids to flourish.  They are not obsessed with being a star and getting to a top level WCAC School.  They just want to opportunity to showcase their talents and let the chips fall where they may.

Then there are other parents that are obsessed with their son’s being superstars and getting the highest rankings, and going to the top rated High Schools with the best financial aid packages.  Many of the kids that come through our program get those awards and then some.   You can see some of them listed on our Track Record Document.  That list doesn’t indicate that every parent fit that particular description at all, because many of them fit the above description and just want to the opportunity.  In those cases, the parents are all ecstatic with Grassroots because they made to the top of the food chain, or the top of the food chain ended up being where their talents took them.  In either one of those cases, the parents are happy and love Grassroots.

But oh my goodness……. When the parents who are obsessed with their sons being stars don’t get what they want, they are not happy.  Deep down, they accuse us of favoritism and not giving their sons a fair shot.  They become disgruntled by Grassroots.  The smart ones know not to say anything to me about it, because they still want to use me to help them when they get to high school.  However, they are not satisfied with their middle school experience and will say negative things about me and Grassroots to the parents who are still in middle school.  They assume it won’t get back to me but it always does.  They never realize it because I always treat them the same and I love their kids either way.  I never show favoritism in the first place and I don’t have the power to override what High School Coaches, youth club coaches, college coaches, or scouting services think about their kids.  I put the platform together and allow every kid a chance to compete to see who rises to the top.  Those that rise to the top do so on their merits.  Not on my favoritism.  But, the obsessed parents that didn’t get what they want it can’t accept that.  So it has to be our fault at Grassroots.

So that is the backdrop for the negativity that I am only addressing here because my dear friend and sister told me that I needed to.  She confirmed that she was not the only parent being consistently approached by the 2 sets of adults.  The original haters who fear the change, and the disgruntled parents within the Grassroots family.

So we are talking a couple of weeks ago, and my friend is telling me about all the things she is hearing from all the different sources.  It has even begun to affect her son, who began to ask here, “why do you trust Coach Mike so much?”  She revealed to me that she couldn’t even give him a good answer why (LOL).  The haters are trying to convince her that I am getting rich doing this, which is a joke!!!!!  They are trying to convince her that I will play favoritism with her son like I did with theirs.   They are doing their best to get into her head and get her not to trust me and my coaches.  After she shared with me the fact that all she does is defend me to the end, she even admitted that she didn’t even know exactly why.  She asked me if she could ask me a question.  I told her sure, what is it?  She said………….What do you get out of this?

Now, she didn’t ask me because she was losing faith in me.  I truly believe that she wanted to know because she wanted to be able to go back and tell her son why she trusted me so much.  She wanted to be able to address the haters about all of this money that I am supposedly making “off of the backs of these kids and parents.”  She needed to be armed with some bullets to fire back, and I was more than happy to provide her with all of the ammunition that she needed.  When I got about ¾ of the way to the end of the explanation about what I got out of it, she stopped me and said she was good!!!  She didn’t need to hear anymore.  Anyone that knows me knows that once I get started I can’t just stop, so I gave her the rest of it.

When we got done she was pleased and relieved, but she convinced me that I needed to share that story with the rest of the parents who may be hearing the same garbage!!!  They may not feel close enough to me to call me and tell me like she did, but best believe she wasn’t the only one hearing it.  That is what prompted me to revitalize the President’s Pen. This is exactly what the Pen was created for.  For me to communicate with the masses about important things that could impact my parents and kids. The rest of this piece is going to be my answer to my friend about what I get out of doing Grassroots.  I am going to take the time to put in black and white.  I am going to post it on the site.  I am going put the link on FB.  I am going to encourage all of my coaches and parents to share.  I am going to eblast to the database.  And this will be the last time that I address it.  When anybody else wants to know I will refer them to the March 6th, 2015 Presidents Pen!!!!  Here we go………

What I Get out of Grassroots:

The people that really want to know are mostly concerned about the money part.  I look forward to addressing that.  My people will tell me that it is nobody’s business.  Most people don’t divulge their salaries at their jobs and this is my career.  I certainly don’t have to address the potential financial benefits to any of you, but I have nothing to hide and I want you to know.  When I explain it to you all, if you are reasonable and really care about your kids and kids in general, I expect that you will want Grassroots to be wildly successful when you hear the concept.  But I will save that part for the end because money really is the LAST reason why I do Grassroots.

It is the first thing on the haters minds, because money is their motivation and they are upset because it looks like Grassroots is financially successful already. They are jealous because they didn’t think of it.  Many of them are not happy with their jobs and would love to be able to do football 7 days a week, and 52 weeks a year.  They may believe they want that but very few would have been willing to take the risks that I took, or make the sacrifices that I have made to do this.  That will be addressed towards the end as well.  But before you hear about that parents, you must know the real reason that I do this.

First of all, my life experiences all prepared me for this.  Long before I even believed in God, He had major plans for me and I am living those plans every day of my life.  As I was coming through boys club and dominating the football fields, basketball courts, and baseball diamonds, all I dreamed about was playing pro ball.  I had the same dreams you sons have that is why I connect with them so easily.  God knew I would need that common experience one day so He set the stage for me to be exceptional as an athlete.  He also knew that academics would be a critical piece to his long term plan for me with kids, so it was not coincidence that I carried a 4.0 average through my first 2 years in a challenging HS called DeMatha.  I graduated with a 3.75 because I really did slack off the last 2 years as I began receiving the numerous scholarship offers for football.

I am using those experiences now as I mentor your sons because I understand what they are going through and the pressure that they feel to get offers.  I was under that pressure.  I understand the desire to be a multi-sport athlete because not only did I play 4 years of varsity football for Bill McGregor at DeMatha, but I was moved up to varsity my sophomore year and played 3 years on Morgan Wooten’s basketball team.  I am accustomed to playing for demanding and legendary coaches at a legendary school, just like some of your kids.

I selected the University of Maryland over Penn State and Stanford at the end of the day for a variety of reasons that will be in another President’s Pen and before I was done I not only played football on scholarship for a National Championship and Super Bowl winning coach in Bobby Ross, but I also played basketball for Hall of Fame National Championship coach Gary Williams.   I am more than qualified to advise your kids on the multi-sport dilemma, along with playing big time college sports at a Major Division 1 program.  I did all of that AFTER a bout with Chronic Myologenous Luekemia at the age of 20, when I was in the midst of my college career.

My life experience has prepared me well for Grassroots and I am even more prepared to share with them the reality that the game can be taken away at ANY moment.  Who better than me to run this organization?

As I told my dear sister, my first real job after college was working as a program specialist for Marion Barry’s Youth Leadership Institute.  I was hired by JD Brown and worked with one and only Norm Nixon at the best job that I ever had.  I didn’t realize it at the time.  I was 23 years old making 19K a year and living at home with my mother at the time.  I was responsible for teaching life skills and leadership to about 20 or so 13 and 14 year olds and I just loved it!!!!  When you all see me in front of a group of athletes speaking to them, it has always come naturally to me and I have always enjoyed it.  At the time I was not aware that I was a spiritual person AT ALL.   I will be writing a book about everything that I want through during my battle with Leukemia, but for now let’s just say the experience did NOT push me towards a relationship with God.  The first book in my trilogy of writings will begin with my childhood and end at college graduation.

With that being said I did enjoy what I was doing, but the world had groomed me to chase “success.”  Success to me was not defined by making 19K per year and living at home with my mother.  My experience as an elite level athlete at a major Division 1 school opened some major doors for me and I had the opportunity to go to work full time for Len Elmore in 1994.  Len was an All American at Maryland, played 10 years in the NBA, and then got a law degree from Harvard University.  He was a partner in a prestigious law firm in DC and he was moonlighting as one of the top College Basketball Analysts for CBS at the time.  His jersey was hanging in the rafters of Cole Field House and he was a legend to all of us who played basketball at Maryland.  He wanted me!!!!!

He had decided that he was tired of hearing all the horror stories of retired athletes going broke and he wanted to do something about it.  He decided to get into the Sports Management business and he wanted me to work for him.  I jumped at the chance to work for Len Elmore at Precept Sports.  I remember the last day of work for the Institute.  I was in tears because I loved those kids so much and I was going to miss them.  They loved me too, but they wanted me to go be a big time agent, make a lot of money and get them seats to the All Star Games.

Anyway that is what I did.  I went to work with Len and we had a ton of success.  In our first year we signed two lotter picks.  Walt Williams who was my friend from MD and Harold “Baby Jordan” Miner from USC.  In year 2 it was Baltimore’s own Sam Cassell and Terry Dehere from Seton Hall.  In year 3 Greg Minor from Louisville joined the fold.  In year 4 we hit the sports agent jackpot when I recruited Joe Smith from Maryland who was the #1 pick and Randolph Childress from Wake Forest, who went #19.  Nobody in the world could have predicted that the NBA would retroactively put the NBA Salary cap on that class and it would change the agent business forever.  Within a year we were out of business.  Trust and believe that is an entire book from beginning to end and I will write it one day.  The second book in the trilogy will begin with the entry into the Sports Management business and end when I got out of it.

My early experiences in the agent business have been tremendously beneficial as I developed the Grassroots plan, but I didn’t do it for business.  I went on to be the business manager for many of those same clients through the rest of the 90’s and into the early 2000’s.  Throughout that period I made a Lot of money.  I became, “successful.”  At least I thought I was.  I had the fly apartment at Lake Arbor Towers, bought the townhouse in Glenn Dale, drove 2 Luxury Lexus vehicles.  The SC 300 sports coupe for me with the 17 inch Momo rims.  My wife was in the GS 300 Sedan, also sitting on 17’s.  We had plenty of money coming in.  We travelled in style.  We went where we wanted and did what we wanted.  Only problem was, I was truly miserable.  My life was a mess.  My marriage was in jeopardy.

I thought more money would fix things, but it never did.  When I brokered a deal to have my own business managing athletes, which could have easily brought in 60K per year, along with the 72K contract I had with an accounting firm to manage my players money, I just knew I had hit the jackpot.  When I looked up a day after inking the deal and I was still depressed, I knew I was in trouble.  God’s master plan was in full gear.  I still wasn’t a believer so I didn’t see it.  I just realized at that moment that money and success were not the key to happiness and that being successful was not the purpose of life.

I didn’t have any idea what the purpose of life was at the time, but I knew for sure it was not to acquire more things.  At 33 years of age I found myself meeting God and developing a relationship with HIM.  The third book in my Trilogy will begin with my introduction to God and end when the Grassroots saga ends.  The chapters in that book are still being written, but the beginning of it will be amazing.

Once I began to be overwhelmed by the new relationship, I wanted to learn everything that I possibly could about God, in order to try to find the meaning of life.  After much study and a series of ups and downs, it became clear to me that life was about finding our purpose for being on this earth and living I to the fullest.  I set out to learn as much as I could about God, and then to find my purpose.  I was quite clear that God worked through people and as I looked back on my life, I thought about some of the amazing mentors and people that he had cross my path over the first 35 years.

My most important mentor at that time in my life was a very successful businessman.  He and I used to have these fireside mentorship sessions where he would pour his experience and wisdom into me.  I looked up to him and wanted to be like him.  I worked with him before I found God and continued to work for him afterwards.  The only difference was that I was looking for different things before and after.  I was looking for money and success before.  I was looking for purpose after.  Boy did he help me find the purpose that God put me on this earth for and that God created my past to prepare me for.

It all started with a question for me that my mentor asked me at 35 years of age.  I use the same tactic on my kids now, when most of them are half that age.  He said to me the following: “If you hit the lottery for $100 Billion dollars and never had to work another day in your life for money, what would you do with your time?”

Wow….. I had no idea.  I wasn’t chasing things anymore so I didn’t think about everything that I would buy.  I thought about all the things my wife and daughter may like and told him I would buy them whatever they wanted.  He said, “After you finished buying any and everything that you could think of, you still had $99 Billion dollars left, what would you do with your time?”  I thought some more and all I could think about was all the places my wife would want to travel to and told him we would travel.  Once again he said, “After you have travelled to every place on the globe, you still have $98 Billion dollars left, and I never asked you what you would do with your money, I said what would you do with you time?  Would you just sit around, watch TV all day and get fat?  What would you do?

I honestly had no idea.  I told him to give me a hint.  He said that he wanted me to think about the most fulfilling thing that I ever did with my time.  Think about a job you may have had that you loved, or hobby that made you happy, or something that you just naturally like to do.  He told me to think about it over the weekend and on Monday morning I was going to have to tell him.  It was a part of my job responsibility over the weekend.  Now at this time we had transitioned out of the sports management business and I worked full time for him as a Medicare auditor.  I had actually gotten pretty good at it.  I hated it and he knew it, but I made about 75K base salary doing that work.  My wife and I had a very good combined income.

I went home a prayed about what I would do if I didn’t have to work anymore.  I thought about the best experience that I could remember having and interestingly enough, after all the great experiences I had in the sports business, nothing from that business came to mind.  I thought about a time when I was about 30 years old.  I walked into a night club and I saw about 4 of my old kids from youth leadership.  They had all grown up and recently graduated from various colleges.  They were men now.  When they saw me that ran up and hugged me like I was there best friend.  I was just as happy to see them too and so proud of what they had accomplished.  They were proud of me, but I was more proud of them.  They told me how much of an impact I had on their lives when they were just 14 and they loved me.

That was it……..  That was the most fulfilling experience I had ever had up to that moment in my life.  That time with those knucklehead kids!!!

I went to work Monday morning and I told my boss and mentor that I would volunteer to work for the Youth Leadership Institute!!!!  He asked me to tell him all about it and I did.  Then I went back to work and that was it.  The next day I came to work there was a brand new laptop computer on my desk and a stack of papers.  My binders and auditing work had been cleared out.  My mentor came into the office and said the following.  “For the next year you are going to development Youth Foundation.  You are going to design it.  You are going to develop the curriculum.  You are going to get the 501c3.  You will write grants.  You will get if funded, and it will be your career.  I am going to continue to pay your salary for the next year.  You have 12 months to get it done.”  Then he turned around to leave!!!

I said hold up!!!!  I don’t know anything about running a foundation.  You asked me what I would do and I told you I would volunteer at the Institute.  He said that I was not going to volunteer at the Institute.  The exercise he put me through was to help me find my passion and my purpose.  Once he knew it was working with kids and mentoring, he found a way to create a business around it for me.  He loved me that much!!! 

Never in his life has he told me he loved me.  He just showed me with stuff like that.  I had never heard of anyone doing anything like that before.  He did it for me.  He taught me that the only way to really be successful is to find your passion and find a way to generate income from it.  Otherwise, you will spend the majority of your time on this earth working a job that you don’t love and never making enough money to make you happy.  Once you find your true passion is will not be the money that will make you happy. It will be successfully fulfilling your purpose that will make you truly happy.  But he also understood that it takes money to live in America.  He taught me that I needed to find my passion because it would be the passion that would drive me to push through the early stages when there would be no money and nothing but disappointment.  That is what he taught me at 35 years old.  I am living proof that he was right at 47.

Before he left the room, I told him that I didn’t know anything about a 501c3 or how to start a Foundation.  He said the following, “I brought you a brand new computer with a search engine called  Don’t ever, as long as you live, tell me you don’t know something.  He turned around and left.

I know that sounds like a cool story doesn’t it?  Happily ever after and the whole nine………  Didn’t work out like that at ALL!  After 11 months of grinding, writing for grants, begging for money, and chasing kids, I had this great program on paper.  I had the non-profit designation.  I had the plan, but I couldn’t raise $.15.  Nor could I get any kids to want to give up their summers and after school time learning life skills and leadership.  I realized one of the main reasons the Youth Leadership Instituted was so cool for kids was because it was part of Marion Barry’s summer jobs program.  The kids got $5.00 per hour to come to us.  The program was funded so our salaries come from the DC Government.  My new foundation had none of that and after a year, there was no money and no kids.

I was crushed.  I thought for sure that God had helped me find my purpose.  I had even developed a personal mission statement.  Mike Anderson’s personal mission statement was to be a positive, motivational, and inspirational force in the lives of young people.  That was it and that was all.  God revealed that to me.  My mentor told me that once I found my purpose and passion, the money would follow.  Although he told me it would be tough early on and I would need the passion to keep me fighting, I didn’t expect it to be that rough!

I was discouraged and second guessing myself.  More than that I was afraid that he would cut me off and I couldn’t take care of my family.  I asked him to back on the accounting side and he obliged.  Four years later I was still doing auditing work and still making money, but I was empty inside.  God had shown me my purpose and the Foundation was supposed to allow me to chase it, but I wasn’t doing that.  I was in the corporate world, making a living and leading a typical unhappy life.

That is when the spirit began to show my visions of my future.  I began focusing on ways to get back to the kids.  I thought about why I failed before.  I couldn’t get kids and I couldn’t get money.  I started thinking about the programs in the area that had a boatload of kids and more money than they could spend.  It was the AAU basketball coaches.  It was the travel lacrosse programs.  It was the elite soccer programs and the travel baseball teams.  On the basketball side, some of the most successful coaches, with Nike, Adidas, and Reebok deals had felony convictions.  That didn’t mean they were bad people and I wasn’t judging them.  But, it was ironic that they had all the kids and plenty of money, and I could generate neither.

I thought about starting an AAU basketball program.  I had all that experience in basketball and I could have done it, but that is not what I wanted to do.  The thought came to me that instead of being just another AAU basketball program, I could be the first to do something similar in football.  I would keep all of the positive things that I liked and eliminate he negative things that I did not like.  The Grassroots concept began to flood my thoughts.  If I could successfully launch this football league, within a few years I would have more than enough kids to populate my foundation.  If I could get the highest caliber athletes to play with me, the sponsors would be lining up to give us money, like they did with the other sports.  It was a brilliant plan.  It was the ultimate bait and switch.  Once I had enough kids and enough money, I would re-launch the foundation and make it mandatory for my athletes to attend!!!!!  That was 2007.

I tried for the next 2 years to implement my program while working my full time job.  But I just couldn’t get it done.  The vision was too big.  It is possible to run one program and work a full time job, but the Grassroots vision just too broad and I couldn’t get it off ground.  After 2 years of trying I had finally gotten strong enough in my relationships with God that I wasn’t afraid to step out there anymore like I was in 2003.  It had been 6 years of knowing I had a purpose and mission and I was not living it.  I decided I was going to put a business plan together, find some investors and make my dream a reality.

The dream was not to chase money.  I already had that.  The dream was to chase kids and use all of my experiences to show them how to be a better man than I could ever be.  I was going to show them how to find their purpose and passion just like I did.  The only difference would be that they would find it so much sooner than I did and I would be able to help them.

When I thought about the potential for business, initially I just wanted to make enough money to match my salary so I could continue to take care of my family.  I never thought the concept was good enough to hit it big one day.  I put that plan together and went to work.  I got my mentor to believe enough in the vision to support me financially for half of what I needed to live off of in 2009.  My attorney provided the other half and I was able to leave my job and chase this crazy dream.  Their money would only last for a year.  A dear friend and retired NFL player came in the winter of 2010 and provide the initial investment money to launch the first season and we were off.

I was living my dream!!!!  Understand that we had every intention of not only blessing the kids but making money as well.  It is the responsibility if every man to work and provide for his family.  This had become my career, my profession, my livelihood, and most importantly my purpose and passion.  I was excited to think about the potential for success not only because I needed to take care of my family, but I wanted to build a business that was going to allow me to provide jobs and careers for the same kids that kids that came through the program.  My dream was that when they went to Ga Tech on a scholarship, that they would get a degree in business and be able to get a job working for Grassroots Atlanta.  Or maybe they went to Rutgers and graduated with a communications degree.  They would be able to work for Grassroots NJ in the broadcasting department.  We always talk about wanting the kids to go to college and be successful.  But one of the important steps to success is finding a career.  It is not chasing money, but I don’t know too many happy men who are unemployed.

A big part of the cycle for me is not just to get them to the best HS, or the best colleges, or to just get a degree.  It is to help them transition into a career where they can one day take care of themselves and their families.  If Grassroots is financially successful, we will be able to provide for you kids and I am obsessed with that.

Some people criticize us because we are not a 501c3.  They just choose to read what they want to read.  The GYFL is not a non-profit, although initially it was.  A very successful businessman and former Washington Redskin was once a part of the Grassroots inner circle.  He was the one that saw the vision and realized that we had an opportunity to turn this into a lucrative business one day if it was run correctly.  As a former NFL player who had a successful business in his post career days, he could attest to the fact that so many former NFL players hated what they were doing every day.  They may have been making money at it, but they didn’t enjoy it.  He was so captivated by the Grassroots business plan that he told me we were on to something big.  He said that if he took this plan to some of the top Hall of Fame caliber retired pros, many of them would jump at the chance to be a part of it.  He actually told my partners and me that he could assure me that some of them would want to buy Grassroots franchises.  He named famous NFL retirees in San Francisco, Dallas, and Miami just to name a few, that he was certain would want to buy into Grassroots.  But he said they couldn’t because it was a 501c3.  You can’t franchise a 501c3.

Can you imagine how blown away I was to have one of my idols that I had grown up revering to tell me that I had created a concept that Hall of Fame athletes would want to franchise?  I couldn’t believe it.  I was in shock.  I told him the real reason why I created this was to re-launch the Foundation to mentor the kids.  He said I could still do that.  He said that most major corporations have for profit arm and a non-profit arm and Grassroots could be the same way one day, if it was successful.  He said the goal initially was to make Grassroots successful here on the league side, master it, package it, and begin to sell franchises all over the country.  We could then very easily start the foundation back up and open up branches of the foundation in the other cities where we franchised the league.

My mouth was on the floor!!!  My dream was put on steroids. We immediately reformed the company and made the GYFL for profit and put in paperwork to create the non-profit foundation.  That is the answer for all the parents that hear that crap from the haters about the non-profit side.  I could do another ten pages about the hypocrisy of the for-profit/non-profit thing.  Just because a company is for-profit doesn’t mean it will ever make a dime.  Just because a company is non-profit doesn’t mean that people are making significant salaries.  Most for profit companies go out of business in the first 3 years, JUST LIKE MINE DID!!!!  Those that survive don’t normally turn a profit until after the 5th year.  We are going into our 6th year and are not profitable yet, but I am still praying and believing that God will continue to make a way.

To make a long story less long I will wind it down now.  But, that amazing business plan that we had worked NOTHING like we thought it would.  I thought that doing Grassroots in the Spring would endear us to the masses of youth organizations because our success would be directly tied to the support that we received from them.  We made a decision not to spend any of our investment capital on radio or television marketing because I was naïve enough to believe that the organizations would support us, we would have great numbers at our combines, parents would see the vision and pay registration fees, high schools would see the vision and work with us on rental fees, etc., etc., etc.

I was WRONG about everything.  The majority of youth clubs ran to the hills and dissuaded their kids from attending.  Although the HS coaches came to the events to look for talent, they didn’t recommend any of their currently recruited players to attend our combines.  Although they came to the games to scout, most of them told their incoming 9th graders not to play.

We didn’t realize this as we set up our budgets with the first infusion of capital.  I put myself and my partner JB on salary and we thought we would generate revenue from the March combines and May registration fees.  We had crickets at the combines that year.  There were maybe 30 kids at the first one at St. Stephens.  The second one looked good at McNamara with numbers but we had to let so many in for free that we didn’t make much money.  We only had 9 kids show up at Spalding.  We had to cancel the Georgetown Prep and North Point combines.  We may have had 50 paid at Loudoun Country Day School.  But, we took a bath and we were in trouble.  We didn’t have enough kids to select teams for the season and we had to start begging for kids.  You can’t beg for kids to play and then charge them a fee, so we wiped out all of the registration fees for year one.

We spend 35K on uniforms, we paid top dollar for the best stadiums, we had a top flight videographer and athletic trainers on both sidelines.  We paid for a top notch web designer and we spared NO expense that first year.  We made it look AMAZING!!!!!  We had over 1,000 people show up at our first Championship Game which featured DC against Baltimore.  It was an unbelievable year.  We had great talent, they looked great, and we put on a show!!!

By the time we got to August we were broke……..

There was 0 money in the account.  There was no more salary for me.  I sat in a meeting with my partners and literally cried.  I was a grown man.  I felt like I had let everyone down.  I was out of money.  I had no way to take care of my family.  My partners where not going to put in any more money and it was a wrap.  That was when I remembered what my mentor told me about chasing my passion.  He said I was going to need to be passionate about it so that I could make it through the tough times.

Times were never tougher for me than the second half of 2010 and the first half of 2011.  I had to borrow money from my mentor for 2 months.  I had to borrow money from my mother for 4 months.  By the time we got around to the 2nd year of combines, the numbers were better.  We had had such a good looking Spring of 2010 that there were a number of kids who couldn’t wait to come back for 2011.

I have always done a great job of making it look good. I have always put the needs of the kids and the league first because this is always where my passion has been.  I couldn’t afford to pay my web designer anymore, but he believed in me so much that he showed me how to update my own site.  Since 2011 I have been the web designer.  I still spend every penny that we get to keep us at the best venues.  I still pay for the athletic trainers.  Although I couldn’t afford to keep paying for the videographer I have found other ways to barter services to get the varsity games filmed.  The quality of service never fell off.  I said earlier that we went bankrupt, so I guess you are imagining, how are we still here?

My parents have always been there for me and I suspect they always will.  They are just like many of you. I was there only child and they paved a way for me.  The dreamed about me having a wonderful life and always made a way for me.  As I said, my mother got me through the end of 2010 and beginning of 2011 until she had no more to give.  On July 1st of 2011, my father passed away and went to be with the Lord.  It was a horrible time for me, as I was the one who found him on the kitchen floor in the house I grew up in.

My father loved me and loved Grassroots.  He was so proud to see his son doing for kids what he used to do for me and so many of friends.  He wanted to see it be successful.  My father had gotten very sick and when he passed on he became the Grassroots Angel Investor.  He didn’t invest directly in the business, but he left enough money for my wife and I to live off of for at least 18 months.  We put some money away for our daughter’s college tuition, and we paid bills with the rest.  We are renting out the house that he left us and we were able to make it through the rest of 2011, and all of 2012 without having to take a penny from Grassroots.  There was no money to take at the time, as we were growing slowly but surely.

I don’t think I owe it to any of you to break down the particulars of my financial life.  I don’t want any of you to feel sorry for me (LOL).  If you knew you may feel bad.  As my inheritance began to get lean we had to scale way back on our lifestyle, but that was okay.  I was blessing my baby boys every day of my life and I was happy.

I have been so broke but I have been so happy.  The years of 2013 and 2014 got better for us financially, but I was so far in the hole that I haven’t come close to getting back to my salary.  If we keep on plugging away though, we will get there, and we are going to keep on plugging away.  The reason is because I love my baby boys.

I am a scientist a making a dollar out of fifteen cents now.  I have no choice.  I am scientist out of faking it until I make it.  I don’t need as much to be happy.  All I need is my family, and my knucklehead Grassroots baby boys.  When you see my Under Armour from head to toe, don’t assume that I have a sponsorship deal yet.  I am blessed that they provide me with gear now.  I appreciate it.  When I get some gear from them I wear it proudly.  I spend what little money I have to put my logo on it so I can market my beloved company.

We don’t have the deal yet, but we are working on it.  Believe that.  I am confident that we will get it one day, but until that day, I will keep on plugging away.  Don’t assume that I am getting money from all sponsors and partners on my webpage.  I wish I was.  I get product from some of them.  I get value from all of them because there is value in brand recognition.  I never lie about anything that I say, but I know how to make stuff look better than it is (LOL).

Don’t assume that when we collect $5.00 at the gate that we are making a killing.  I can only think of 3 Saturdays in 5 years where we actually made a profit at the gate.  If you don’t believe it, call one of the AD’s at the schools we play at and ask them how much to rent their field for a whole day.  Then contact a referee group to see how much they charge per referee, per game.  Multiply that times the number of refs we have at our games.  Traditional youth leagues have the clubs pay the refs.  We are not a traditional youth league.  Our clubs don’t play home games so we are responsible for the refs.  Then contact the athletic trainers and see how much they cost for 8 hours of work.  Then add $15.00 per hour for the announcer that everybody loves so much, along with at least $15.00 per hour for all the security and staff we have to pull of the Grassroots games.  After you do all of that math, add it up and see what the weekly expenses are.  Share that number parents with the haters out there and watch their mouths drop to the floor.  Forgot to add in the$1M in liability insurance we must have at each venue.

I could go on and on about the expenses but I am done with that.  If what I have shared with you is not enough that it will never be enough.

What do I get out of it?

·         I get to live out the purpose of my life every single day of the year.

·         I don’t ever have to watch the clock again because I am pressed to get off of work.  It is 3:25 am on March 6th as I write this and I am wide awake.  I don’t work 9 to 5 anymore.  I work from time I wake up to the time I go to sleep.  But it doesn’t feel like work.

·         I get to be a blessing to kids every day of my life, parents too!

·         There are not many people on this earth that have had the collective experiences that I have had that can be applied to building your sons destiny.

o   There have been plenty of guys who were elite youth and HS players.

o   There have been plenty of elite athletes who were NHS students as well.

o   There have been plenty of Major D1 Athletes. (Not many that played 2 sports)

o   There have been plenty of guys diagnosed with Cancer and survived.

o   There have been plenty of guys with distinguished Sports Management Careers.

o   There have been plenty of guys who developed deep interpersonal relationships with God.

o   There have been plenty of guys who found their purpose in life.

o   There have been plenty of guys who actually took the risk to make their purpose their career.

o   I just don’t know too many that have all of those characteristics wrapped up into one and have DONE THEM ALL!

·         I am not bragging parents, I am just telling what I get out of it.

·         I get the satisfaction of knowing that I am living a purpose driven life and my babies know that I love them no matter what.

·         I get the satisfaction of seeing their dreams come true and know that I played a major part in that.

o   As I began writing this post, one of my favorite athletes who had not received any offers yet, and had to sit back and watch all of his friends get offers, finally got his first offer last night, and it was a big one. 

o   I get the satisfaction of knowing that his mother called me last week asking for guidance and help and I came through for them.

·         I get the satisfaction of knowing that behind the scenes I work diligently to make sure that I am helping all of my alums carve out a path for their futures.

·         I get the ability to keep a roof over my head, and keep my daughter in private school.

·         I get the satisfaction of being able to provide for my family and send money that I can’t even afford to send to my first baby boy while he is in college struggling to make it.

·         I get the satisfaction of knowing that if I am successful and Grassroots blows up that one day we will be in 32 NFL cities and I will be able to provide careers for your sons one day, and the coaches that helped me build this.

·         I get the satisfaction to dream about being wealthy one day.  When I am wealthy I won’t have to get on my knees and beg for wealthy people to donate money so my youth programs can by new helmets for the kids to play in.  When I am wealthy I won’t have to beg wealthy people to help parents who can’t afford to pay tuition anymore.  I won’t have to beg anybody for anything and they won’t have to beg me.  All they will have to do is let me know what the need is and I will fulfill it.

Well ladies and gents, there you have it.  For my parents, I pray that you believe me because I love you and I do care what you think.  What you think means everything to me, which is why I sat down at 10pm and started writing from my heart.  As I look down at the page count I am up to 14 pages and it is 3:40am.  Wow!!!!  I guess I do talk a lot and write a lot.  But, you know what.  I have a lot to say.  You mean that much to me. 

I used to always here this saying: “If you want to hide something from a person, just put it in a book.”  That statement was actually directed at a certain ethnic group but I refuse to believe it, so I won’t say it.  But if there is any truth to that, we need to check ourselves because everything that we need to know to live fulfilled and productive lives is in a book somewhere. 

To the haters out there, if you chose to read this with an open heart, maybe you learned something and if so that is great.  If you still feel the way you do that is fine too.  Either way, I will continue to do what I do.  If you hate me now, there is a strong possibility that you are probably going to be really upset in a couple of years.

I have no plans to stop.  I believe it will only get bigger and better.  God willing we will be in 32 cities before I leave this planet.  I will be able to have even more influence when I get to the pearly gates.  So either way, the Grassroots Nation is looking pretty good right now.

Parents, I hope this helps!

Peace and God Bless,

Coach Mike

Read 5482 times Last modified on Friday, 06 March 2015 20:45
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