Tracy Burnett was a Club member at James A. Lane from age 4 to 16, and says that playing sports at the Boys & Girls Club saved his life. "Coach Pete would see me walking home from school everyday and tell me I needed to come play basketball. And every day I would keep on walking. I was a kid that always stayed in trouble and in 7th grade I was expelled from school. But I started playing basketball for the Club soon after and I never got in trouble again."
One thing that Tracy learned in the Club and will never forget is that "you have to be a friend to make a friend." He says he can still hear Mrs. Liz repeating that to this day.
At 17, Tracy took a job as the HPE Director at the Athens Club until he left to study and play basketball for Alabama A&M the following year. He returned to Boys & Girls Clubs as the HPE Director for Sparkman Homes the summer of his sophomore year, then returned to A&M in the fall to continue playing basketball and pursuing his degree.
Reflecting on his time at the Club and his career aspirations, he realized that he wanted to be a coach. "I felt like playing basketball for A&M wasn't for me anymore. Just like Coach Pete helped show me the right way, it's my turn to give back. That's why I want to be a coach."
After weighing the decision, Tracy decided to leave the A&M team and come back to the Sparkman Homes Club to resume his role as the HPE Director while he finishes up his degree. He says the Club is a "perfect fit" for him!
Tracy is currently training to become a Club Director where he can work with kids like Demond every day. Demond is 9 years old and he's a member at the Sparkman Homes Club. "I really like my school and I like coming to the Boys & Girls Club," he says. "Some days are hard, but I always say thank you when good stuff happens and I always pray to God."
When Demond grows up he wants to be like Coach Tracy. "Coach Tracy is my favorite because he lets us play. He's always nice to us, and sometimes he gives us treats when we're good. When I grow up, I want to be just like him. I want to be able to shoot like him and run like him too."
Tracy's story is a powerful example of the crucial impact that a mentor can have in the life of a child. We're so thankful to have him (and Coach Pete) on our team!