JOHN HOLLINS: THE REACH BACK KID GOES INTERNATIONAL!

by Harold Bell

Big John Hollins named Community Hero by the Atlanta Braves in his hometown of Atanta, Georgia / https://www.cbs46.com/cbs-s-john-hollins-named-community-hero/video_c2872280-791f-5719-bafa-6173e2329625.html

Ozzie Albies Atlanta Braves All-Star second baseman is front and center with Atlanta Metro RBI youth baseball team in Curacao
On Thursday, January 16, 2020, the ATLANTA METRO RBI youth baseball team boarded a plane at the Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport and flew to the Carribean island of Curacao. Since 2016 ATL METRO RBI takes a group of local teen athletes to a Caribbean island to give back to fellow young players who otherwise cannot afford to play the game of baseball. The group raises money all year to take this trip over Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend. They team up with Mizuno??? to supply a range of baseball items to the players they meet, items will include gloves, shoes, helmets, bats, catchers gear, and apparel.

​Why did ATL METRO RBI choose Curacao? The man behind the project is John W. Hollins, Jr.  John has been a dedicated and respected community leader for over 30 years. A corporate executive and business owner. He is a Senior Account Executive with CBS 46, where he has been an integral component to the company’s growth and development for several years, managing the advertising of some of the top Ad agencies, law firms and small businesses in Atlanta, as well as helping develop several local midsize businesses through television and digital advertising.

He has been a proud member of the 100 Black Men of America since 2008 and has served as the President of the 100 Black Men of DeKalb County Inc.  Serving the community has always been very rewarding to John, he watched his father mentor young people with absent fathers and created the first organized football program in the local Eastlake Meadows housing project to promote teamwork and sportsmanship.  His father passed away in 2001.

To prove that he believed God made all young people equal, he signed his oldest son and namesake (John jr.) up first.  He also believes no baby comes out of his/her mother’s womb wearing a KKK robe, with an AK 47, selling drugs or using the N-word, it is all taught behavior. Those beliefs were established by a father who planted the seeds of community reach-back at an early age.  He inspired John to establish a community youth sports program to help the family keep the legacy intact and help our children.

Big John with his son John Jr. hanging out at a charity event during the Christmas holidays.

John, established his 501 c3 non-profit organization in the summer of 2014.  He begin International travel last year 2019, the teens went to Puerto Rico to help and they had a fabulous time.

The international component created the reason for giving back.  First, he had to identify a country where baseball was not just a passion, but a part of the country’s fabric and Identify a need for baseball equipment for kids in that country.  The American youth would become a part of the research and reason to raise money for someone you have never met because of the need.  Finding similarities among the communities, partnering with a supplier to provide the goods.   Common ground, training his youth to compete against boys that had no other way off of their island, but to play their backsides off.  Then there was Player development component, partnering with a major league franchise to create exposure for these American Boys, enter the Atlanta Braves.

Curacao island is the home of former Atlanta Braves star Andruw Jones and current Braves star Ozzie Albies.  Ozzie will meet the young players on Curacao so he can take them on a tour of the island.  After Ozzie showed the youth where he grew up, he talked to them about his life on the island and his journey to the top of his game playing major league baseball. Ozzie was generous with his kindness and time hoping to help shape the futures of the young players visiting the island.

Ozzie Albies Atlanta Braves All-Star second baseman played host and tour guild for the Atlanta Metro youth baseball team during the ML King holiday weekend.

John Hollins is the Executive Director and founder of ATL Metro RBI, Inc., the program provides health and wellness sports activity, mentoring and leadership, as well as scholarships to kids in inner cities.  To date, the ATL Metro RBI program has provided over $160,000 in scholarship money to students attending Tuskegee University, Morehouse College, Albany State College, Alabama State University, Lemoyne Owen, Clark Atlanta University, TSU, Benedict College, Grambling University, Southern University, Chipola NJCAA, Voorhees and other HBCUs. In 2015-2018 he has served passionately with other community leaders in the 100 Men organization.  They  mentor underserved young men and women towards helping to improve the quality of their lives by offering exposure and access to key community influencers, scholarships, leadership programs, and international travel.
Community service is a “Family Affair” John has been married to his college sweetheart Tekki for 33 years. His two sons L-R: John III and Jordan can come off the bench and pinch-hit at any given moment.

The RBI program has been supported in part by Major League Baseball and the Atlanta Braves organization and has, directly and indirectly, helped over 100 kids go on to play college baseball and professional baseball, through the affordable baseball programs and guidance provided.  He has also touched 400 -500 students by providing a positive baseball coaching program every summer.  In 2016 he received the Barak Obama Honoree award for Lifetime Achievement in community service for his continued work with our youth and community.  He will forever be enshrined in our 44th President’s Library with all other recipients.

John started an international program with the sponsorship of Mizuno SportIing Goods in 2019.  He, Mizuno and his players have provided over 100,000 dollars in much-needed sports equipment in the Caribbean islands of Curacao and Puerto Rico.  On the island John was awarded the Roberto Clemente Award in 2019.  Clemente is one of MLB greatest players and humanitarians.  He lost his life trying to help his people on New Year’s eve in a plane crash in 1972.  He was trying to deliver aid packages to his homeland, the island had just suffered a devastating earthquake.

John leads by example, he offers leadership and guidance drawing from his own college experience as a D1 All-Conference baseball player at Georgia State University.  He lettered for four years. He was also an All-Conference academic athlete honoree in his junior year and was a 1st team All-Conference and 2nd place vote-getter for conference player of the year.  He became an unrestricted free agent in his senior year and was selected by the Pittsburg Pirates organization.  He majored in Marketing and minored in Public relations at Georgia State University.  He is a proud Executive Board Member of Grady Memorial Hospital and serves on the Board of 100 Black Men of America, Dekalb Chapter.

He says, “I believe that working with kids will ensure a better future for our community and them.  In life, you only know what you know, with today’s technology our youth don’t interact with their elders in the community as we once did.  Our rich history is being suppressed because no one is teaching the pitfalls of yesterday.  Our youth are not  being mentored and they are making some of the same mistakes we made.  I got involved in the RBI program for a few reasons, one is to teach the game the right way and to use the game to enhance the life experiences of young men with a focus on young men of color”.

Those life experiences involved but not limited to how to conduct yourself at all times on and off the field.  He makes them understand why education should be their main focus and no plan B, plan B is what you fall back on, Plan A is what you will plan to do for the rest of your life, with the understanding nobody plays baseball forever, but you can live to be 90+ years old.  So finding a passion for what you want to do after your professional, college or high school career is over is very important.  You only know what you know, so he takes these young men on international trips with his partner Mizuno.  In 2020 they were fortunate to get Ozzie Albies to meet them on his island of Curacao and take them around where he grew up, his parents’ house, his neighborhoods, his old playing field where he still comes home to train in the offseason.

John, has helped over 100 kids go on to play college sports and 17 made it to the pros, not one has ever given a dime back to the program (Mode of Operation).

There is no one to teach our young men of color the importance of giving back, we just give to them. You would think if you fed a child when he gets older he will feed his child, but if you don’t teach him the reason and the purpose than his behavior becomes expected.  With food it’s a little easier because with hunger your child begins to cry out and so you feed him or leave him, not to hear the pain.  With our community, it’s a little harder, because success allows you to move out of poverty, where they don’t hear the pain.  Out of sight as you know is out of mind.  So very few black men give back, especially athletes.

The Black athlete and other successful blacks have made gentrification easy.  When their old neighborhoods are overrun with returning “White Flight” it is because those same homes they left behind have become ghettos because they refuse to return.  Gentrification is the process of renovating and improving a house or district where these athlets once lived so that it conforms to middle class (white folks) taste.  The system takes over their old neigborhood homes with inflated taxes and other well thoughtout maneuvers.  The ‘White Flight’ whites seize the opportunity to leave behind those one and two hour rides home by car, carpools, bus, and subway train for 30 minute rides to their front door in what was once known as the inner-city.

Bing returns to the inner-city a place he once call home

NBA Hall of Famer Dave Bing grew up in NE Washington, DC.  He was one of the few black athletes who returned home DC/Detroit and tried to support and enhance the life style of the down-trodden.

In 2008 Dave announced in DC he was running for Mayor of Detroit.  I advised him against running.   I told him, “Dave, running for Mayor of Detroit is a “Dead End Street”!   He won the election and suddenly became the ‘Enemy of the State.’  The city declared bankruptcy, the declaration of bankruptcy made Detroit the largest municipality in the United States to do so.   Dave did not seek re-election in 2013.

Let the Renaissance begin–The Realestate Market in Detriot is now booming—I will give you one guess why, Gentrification with a White Mayor!

John Hollins hopes to build an academy with an educational component equal to home school and a training facility to allow more kids to learn in each major league city where young black boys are dying every day on the streets with no hopes or dreams and no place to train and play out the Game Called life.

Coach Hollins wants to teach his youth the importance of giving back and remembering who they are and where they came from.  He found the best time to accomplish this is on Dr. King’s holiday.  Helping fellow players on the islands is not the only part of their weekend adventure, the teens are required to do a research paper on the history of the island, the residents, and their independence.  The youth finish their paper when they return stateside. They write about their personal experiences and how the trip impacted them.  The youth that made the trip were from Dekalb, Clayton, Henry, Newton, Fulton, Rockdale, and surrounding counties.

ATL METRO RBI has helped over 100 youth go to college, while 17 are currently in the pros.  The organization will continue to stress education and invest in developing future leaders since they cannot play sports forever. The program has been fortunate to have some of the players attend practice and talk of their humble beginnings when they played under Coach Hollins.  It helps the young men realize their dreams from those who have practiced and played on the same diamond.

ATL METRO RBI is thankful for the help of the players who help make the organization work for the younger generation of baseball players:  Jordan Hollins is a two-time JUCO National Champion and senior at Ottawa University in Arizona where he is one of the Captains and leaders of the program.  BJ Armstead is a Morehouse graduate now working on his Masters’ degree in social studies at UGA, while managing his own company that works with mental health challenges for young athletes, the company, APOLLO is a 501 c3 non-profit organization.  He is currently interning with Kansas City Royals.

Curtis Terry a Texas Rangers MLB home run leader in the last two years and a double-A stand out 1st baseman.   Kyle Lewis a 2016 1st round draft pick, 11th overall, Rawlings College player of the year, currently on the 40 man roster of the Seattle Mariners.

Jason Davis was a standout pitcher and Outfielder.  He is a Morehouse graduate and Phi Beta Kappa (3.75 GPA).  He is currently a MLB scout for the NY Mets, he spend his youth playing for Coach Hollins.  He said,

“I began playing for coach Hollins around the age of 16.  I played with his travel ball team, Tigers USA, in the summer and he would go on to coach me at Morehouse College.  The summer after my freshman season, he also led the RBI Atlanta 18U team as we competed in the Southeast Regionals. Coach Hollins was always a steady leader and a strong voice in the dugout; he got the most out of his players through respect and accountability, always treating us like and preparing us to become men. These lessons, both on and off the field, are what stick with me the most as I’ve begun my own matriculation into manhood. He helped me realize the value of networking and the positive impact that it can have on the lives of others, evident through his leadership with the 100 Black Men of Atlanta, RBI Atlanta (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities), and countless other efforts. Coach Hollins’ love for his community and undeniable passion to empower those around him are qualities that make the world a better place”.

Coach Hollins: A man, a leader, a role model.

This unique opportunity would not have been possible without the sponsorship of MIZUNO and community partners Atlanta Braves Foundation, Atlanta Braves, MLB, Alston and Bird, Slappy and Sadd, Pain law, Better Baseball, Patrick Desamours-Edward Jones, and Bauer Harris.

To learn more about the Atl Metro RBI organization and how to donate contact john.hollins@cbs46.com

Noteworthy:

THE MLB CHEATING SCANDAL ACCORDING TO COACH HOLLINS:

Stealing signs from the other team has been a part of the fabric of baseball sense the beginning of the game. What made it truly wrong in this case was they used technology that the other team did not have access too, so in essence they truly cheated and they added more technology to make it even more unfair, by notifying the batter when a certain pitch was coming based on technology and not human interaction.  So the other team could never catch them getting signs.

Harold Bell is a pioneer in radio sports talk shows in America.  He changed the way we talk sports.  Sports columnist the late Dick Heller of the Washington Times said, “Harold Bell is the Godfather of sports talk—the good kind.”

 


RIP KOBE & GIANNA

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