21st Century/Next Level Sports honored five high school student-athletes and five Living Legends at an event held January 11 at Wild Wings Cafe, located in Savannah’s City Market.
According to their website, 21st Century Community Learning Center provides expanded academic enrichment opportunities for children attending selected schools and their families. Tutorial services and academic enrichment activities are designed to help students meet local and state academic standards in subjects such as reading and math. In addition, 21st Century programs provide youth development activities, behavior intervention programs, drug and violence prevention programs, technology education programs, art, music and recreation programs, counseling and character education to enhance the academic components of the program.
Next Level Sports offers a comprehensive training program for student athletes of all ability levels. The utilize personal trainers, certified teachers and a proven methodology to provide a foundation for winning on and off the playing fields and going forward for college prep. The program is offered by the district’s 21st Century Community Learning Center.
Aldric Dekle, project manager for Savannah Chatham County 21st Century thanked everyone for coming to this inaugural event in Savannah and Dr. Ann Levett, Deputy Superintendent, Chief Academic Officer for Savannah Chatham County Public Schools, gave greetings.
The student-athletes honored were Dez’mond Brinson (Savannah High), Tayshon Daniels (Groves), Javonte Middleton (Jenkins), Namon Pointer (Johnson) and Bobby Tyson (Beach).
These young men were selected after organizers asked local coaches to choose student leaders who led on a off the field at their respective school.
Savannah High football coach Tony Welch presented Brinson. “He has a 3.9 grade point average and has scored over 1,000 on the SAT,” said Welch on Brinson.
Groves assistant principal Shomari Gilford presented Daniels. “He has worked hard on the football field as well as in the classroom. This was his first year of playing football,” said Gifford of Daniels.
Jenkins football coach Tim Adams presented Middleton and stated that the three-year starter at quarterback was “very coachable and always trying to do better.”
Johnson football coach David Jackson presented Pointer while Beach football coach Ulyssess Hawthorne presented Tyson.
Jackson stated that Pointer was always willing to practice while Hawthorne said that Tyson’s biggest strengths were his relationship with God and his willingness to work hard.
The five Living Legends honored were George Atkinson, Edwin Bailey, Frank Ellis, Jr., Frank Kearse and Horace Luton.
All five attended city schools in Savannah as well as historically black colleges and three played in the professional ranks.
Atkinson, Ellis and Luten attended Johnson while Bailey went to Tompkins and Kearse went to Savannah High.
Atkinson was drafted into the NFL out of Morris Brown by the Oakland Raiders. He told the audience “it takes hard a lot of hard work, effort, desire and discipline to get to the next level.”
Bailey was an All American lineman at South Carolina State and drafted into the NFL by the Seattle
Seahawks. He urged the young men in the crowd who may go on to play college football to “take advantage of the afforded opportunity.”
Ellis was a three sport athlete at Savannah State and went on to become the Tigers head football coach and later served as athletics director. He said he grew up living by the motto of never wanting to embarrass his parents in whatever he did.
Kearse, the youngest member of the Living Legends, was selected in the 2011 draft by the Miami Dolphins out of Alabama A&M. He told the audience to dream big and be relentless in whatever you do. He had a 3.25 grade point average in college and earned a degree in social work.
Luten was a high school quarterback but played wide receiver while attending Norfolk State. A volunteer youth coach with the Cobras, Luten said his former coaches, John Myles and Floyd Morris, instilled integrity and discipline in him. He told the young men present to “work hard, study diligently and listen to your coaches.”
Savannah- Chatham County Board of Education members Connie Hall and Larry Lower were also present and were recognized.
Each honoree received a trophy, medallion and a certificate.
According to Dekle, they plan to honor women’s basketball at the next Living Legends event.