Asia Key, The Black Bear – The first whistle blows and a young boy flies out from the starting position. He is focused; his body at a slant as he runs full speed towards the orange cone. With a sudden stop – he drops to the ground into the plank position.
At another whistle, he is up and sprinting towards the next cone. A third whistle, and he is running backward towards the line where the next athlete is waiting. As his foot hits the white line, the next boy comes shooting out – emboldened by the sound of the whistle and the shouts from his coaches.
Drills like these are ones that young athletes participated in during the free football skills camp held by Darnay Session’s Elite Athlete System (EAS) on Aug. 5.
Many of Missouri State’s own athletes aided in this skills camp, including Richard Darden, Corey Faegan and Kierra Harris – all alumni of the football program.
Session is a senior at Missouri State who plans to graduate in May 2017, majoring in kinesiology. He is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and said that his brothers pushed him to make EAS a reality, though it has always been something he wanted to do.
“Athletics have been very influential in my life,” Session said. “Growing up in Kansas City, there’s not a lot of influential leaders. There’s a need for resources and positive male influences in young black men’s lives.”
He believes that EAS provides that. Session said that athletics personally helped him and that they can give young people the tools needed for adulthood.
“(Sports) help with confidence and helps teach life skills,” Session said. “Each specific sport molds you in your adult life.”
Co-partner Micah Jenkins, a senior majoring in Sports Administration and Recreation, agreed that sports teach kids many values.
“Football taught me a lot about life,” Jenkins said. “Getting a job, like sports, takes hard work and being responsible. You have to have time management. Sports taught me that you have to have ‘the-want-to’ to go after what you want.”
Jenkins plans to be a high school coach and is passionate about helping children. He chose to get involved with EAS as an avenue to start doing what he loves.
“My dream is to be an influence and role model in someone’s life by mentoring them because I’ve already been through it,” Jenkins said.
Session said that EAS is designed to help young athletes reach their full potential, but also to have fun.
“It develops them for higher level sports,” Session said. “It molds them as athletes, and as men and women.”
Jenkins said it is a system that will help athletes around the country both academically and through physical training.
“EAS helps them become men, grooming them and getting them ready for college,” Jenkins said. “We prepare them mentally and physically.”
Coaches present at EAS free skills camp, Aug. 5. First row, left to right: Deron Session, Kierra Harris, Darnay Session, Ant Hoots, Micah Jenkins. Second row, left to right: TreVonte Dixon, Richard Darden, Corey Feagin, Secoy Hodges.
Jenkins stressed the importance of academics in athletics, saying that a lot of players have the talent but lack the grades.
“Statistically, not every person who plays (sports) in high school will play in college or make it to the league,” Jenkins said. “Not everyone is going to be a millionaire. This program helps them excel academically so that if one day they have to work in another field, they can still provide for themselves and their families.”
A chart compiled by the NCAA determined that only 1.6% of football players, 1.1% of male basketball players, and 9.7% of baseball players will be drafted to a major professional league.
Aside from organizing skills camps and other workshops, Session has worked with a nutritionist to advise members of EAS with healthy eating habits. He also works as a coordinator between athletes and coaches.
“I don’t play baseball, but if a kid comes to me and wants to play, I can use my resources to find him a baseball coach,” Session said. “Or if a girl wants to play volleyball, I connect them with a volleyball coach. It’s a network.”
Session has many goals for the EAS program he plans to fulfill.
“In the short term, I want to get a website together and also to monopolize the Springfield market with a network between coaches and athletes,” Session said. “In the long term, I want EAS to have members all over the country.”
There will be another skills camp for basketball on the first Saturday in October. Session foresees that there will always be a need for this type of program.
“Sports are always going to be there, and kids are always going to want to play,” Session said.