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  • 4th and 1 is a free football, SAT/ACT prep, and life skills camp for at-risk high school student-athletes held every July on college campuses in Texas and Michigan. I'm the executive director of 4th and 1.

    By training, I am an attorney, not a teacher. But during camp, I become the de facto principal. I make sure every student-athlete has what he needs. Who needs a pillow? Who came to camp without cleats? Does everyone have a pen? Their Kaplan Review books? Their yoga mats? I memorize every student's name. I learn their nicknames. "Stop with the spit balls, Travis F. Williams," I might say on day one. I spend a lot of time at camp walking between rows of desks with my hands folded behind my back.

    During camp, I am ever watchful, always on the lookout for scraped knees, homesickness, student-athletes falling asleep or otherwise goofing off in a nutrition, math, or resume-writing class. Though I try my best to take time to learn every student-athlete's story--this one works on a construction crew, that one came from New Orleans during the storm, this one is a talented artist--there is little opportunity for me to just pause and reflect during camp.

    This summer, The Recollective, a team of radio producers, recorded voices and sounds from 4th and 1.

    Now that I am not racing across campus in search of a pencil sharpener or band-aids or bus drivers, I am able to pause. In the morning, over coffee, I often listen to The Recollective's recording. It never gets old. Each time I hear the voices of these student-athletes (like a mother bird, I recognize each of "my kids" by his voice), my heart explodes. I am filled with hope, joy, and love. So much love.
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