Reflecting on life and career milestones often leads us to moments of pride and fulfillment, yet sometimes, it also brings to light certain oversights. For many of us, coaches play an indispensable role in shaping our values, beliefs, and attitudes. They instill discipline, teamwork, and resilience. As someone who proudly took on the mantle of a youth athletics coach, I strived to be more than just a trainer. I always aimed to mold these young souls, teaching them that sports was as much about life lessons as it was about the game.
But in my journey, I encountered a harsh reality – an oversight that could cost lives.
On January 16th, 2013, what should have been a memorable day for my 5th-grade All-Star team for the Gwinnett Basketball League took a devastating turn. One of our league's players, a 12-year-old named Jeremy Nelson, tragically suffered a cardiac event right there on the court. The palpable enthusiasm of the packed arena quickly turned into heartbreak and grief. Tragically he passed away two hours later.
In the aftermath, we mourned and paid our respects with stickers on our team's jerseys. While I respect our league's desire to mourn this young man’s passing, it wasn't enough. Nothing else happened. This saddens me and makes me ashamed to have been part of this system. We could have done more; we should have done more.
As a coach, I realize I was part of a system that wasn't adequately prepared for such emergencies. Neither I nor my fellow coaches were trained in CPR or even made aware of the presence (or lack thereof) of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) at our venues.
It's taken some time but I've decided to use my platform to make a difference. To do what I can to prevent another tragedy.
The Lifesaving Potential of AEDs
AEDs are portable devices that can send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm. These devices have the potential to save lives, especially in sudden cardiac arrest situations. A cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, irrespective of age. In fact, the American Heart Association reports that prompt CPR and AED use can double, or even triple, a victim's chance of survival.
The gravity of not having these crucial life-saving devices at our youth sports events, along with the necessary training to use them, weighs heavily on me.
Our young athletes deserve better. We need to do everything in our power to protect our youth from events like these that are far more common than people think and often fatal. As stakeholders in youth sports – be it coaches, parents, or administrators – it's our collective responsibility to ensure the safety of our children.
Taking the First Step Towards Change
I've embarked on a mission – to raise awareness about the need for AEDs in youth sports and to promote CPR training. But change doesn't happen in isolation. I urge everyone, especially those involved in youth sports, to champion this cause.
Awareness: Understand the importance of AEDs and their lifesaving potential.
Training: Encourage and attend CPR and AED training programs. These skills can make a difference between life and death.
Advocacy: Push for AED devices to be mandatorily available at all youth sports events and venues.
As I look back on my coaching years, I recognize the power of influence we have on our youth. And with that influence comes responsibility. A responsibility not just to teach sports, but to ensure that our children play in a safe environment. Let's work together to make AED availability and training in youth sports a norm, not an exception. It's time we prioritize our children's safety above all else.
Join Us at Business & Bourbon in Championing Youth Safety
At Business & Bourbon, we're renowned for our premium events and the vibrant community we've nurtured over the years. While we often bond and grow over glasses of the finest bourbon, our mission extends far beyond just spirits. This time, we're pouring our energy and passion into championing the safety of young athletes at the North Wake Football Association.
Bobby Karbas, a devoted member of our Business & Bourbon family, founded North Wake Football Association with a vision: an environment where young athletes can flourish in skills, sportsmanship, and safety. Recognizing the importance of this cause, we, at Business & Bourbon, are stepping up to ensure these young talents have access to life-saving equipment during their moments on the field.
Our ethos has always been about more than just business and bourbon. It's about making impactful connections, building a resilient community, and giving back. And now, we're raising funds for portable AEDs, ensuring a safer playing environment for these young stars.
Your contribution, be it big or small, will be instrumental. Partnering with us at Business & Bourbon means you're not only contributing to safety in youth sports but also becoming part of a movement, a community that values care, commitment, and collective action.
Join us in this essential mission. It's more than just a donation; it's a testament to what we can achieve together. With our community's combined efforts, let's ensure that every young athlete at North Wake Football plays in a space that's as safe as it is competitive. Together, we can make a difference.