Tag Archives: USA Today Sports

Long before his personal encounter with Shaq, young Mekhi Welch has become a gifted sports buff

MEKHI’S MAD SKILLZ

HE’S THE TRUTH — For the child who’s widely known as “Mekhi,” a rather distinctly unique thing occurred some three years or so ago, according to his mother, Tawanna Chamberlain. “Mekhi has been a sports buff since the age of three,” Chamberlain told Making Headline News this week. “But when he started to read around five years old, he asked me to read books to him about the history of basketball and great players.”

DALLAS — Mekhi Welch is just eight years old, meaning for a kid his age, one would think he’s essentially in the beginner’s stage with regards to his knowledge about sports.

For the child who’s widely known as “Mekhi,” a rather distinctly unique thing occurred some three years or so ago, according to his mother, Tawanna Chamberlain.
“Mekhi has been a sports buff since the age of three,” Chamberlain, a Clearwater, Florida resident, told Making Headline News this week. “But when he started to read around five years old, he asked me to read books to him about the history of basketball and great players.”
And just like that, a rising young sports historian, of sorts, was born, considering Mekhi’s sports knowledge is such that he could perhaps teach these old vets a thing of two about arguably some of the celebrated athletes of our generation.
Thanks in large part to his mother routinely reading his autobiographies of Lewis Alcindor, Jr, (famously known today as Kareem Abdul-Jabar), Kobe Bryant’s “Mamba Mentality,” “When The Game Was Ours,” featuring Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, Phil Jackson’s “Eleven Rings” Sam Smith’s “The Jordan Rules,” Mitch Albom’s “Fab Five,” Dick Devenzo’s “Stuff Good Players Should Know,” LeBron James’ “The Boy Who Became King,” Stephen Curry’s “The Boy Who Never Gave Up,” “Michael Jordan: The Life,” and “Little Shaq” by Shaquille O’neal,” among others, and it’s no wonder little Mekhi boasts lofty aspirations of someday emerging as household name in what has become a multi-million dollar sport industry, particularly for some the world’s most prominent sports journalists.

LOOK! IT’S DA BIG DIESEL!

GOTTA LOOK AT THIS THIS — “Then it happened,” Chamberlain said. “Three days later, I received a personal video message from Shaq to Mekhi and I almost lost it. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was a surreal moment in time. I couldn’t wait to show Mekhi that his hero, Shaq, had sent him a personal message. When Mekhi saw the message from Shaq, he was overjoyed. He was smiling from ear-to-ear and he talked about the video message all the way to school that morning.”

“We absolutely love to read in our home,” Chamberlain said son’s newfound gift as a sports enthusiast. “In fact, it’s our favorite pastime. We literally own more books than we can count, and when Mekhi would become disinterested with me reading countless of books to him, he would pick up his iPad and Google interesting basketball stats and facts.”

To his credit, the more he deems it essential to become knowledge about sports opposite those up-to-date scores that customarily scroll across SportCenter’s Bottom Line, the more it seems that Mekhi essentially broadens his journalistic mechanics that figure to set him apart mightily from his peers much more sooner than later.

Never mind that he’s only eight years of age.

“Over the last five years, he has become a real life NBA basketball Wikipedia,” said Chamberlain, trying the best she could to assess her young and gifted son’s amazing gift that centered on big time sports. “You can ask him any question you want to about players from Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, Kobe, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Isaiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Tracy McGrady, Charles Barkley, Step Curry, Kevin Durant, Kwahi Leonard, Clay Thompson, Ben Simmons to Zion Williamson.”

Once someone picks Mekhi’s brain about any major professional athlete — past or present — they might as well brace themselves for what essentially will be said next.

“Amazingly, he can recall their height, what cities they were born in, all the teams that each player played on, what year they were recruited and drafted to the NBA, who their rivals were, their current stats, their highest scoring games in a season, the years they were injured, and how the injury impacted their careers,” Chamberlain said. “You should hear him tell the story about Yao Ming.”

And then there is Mekhi’s personal encounter with O’Neal, five-time NBA champion and former LSU All-American.

According to Chamberlain, her son and Shaq established friendship during which an awe-inspiring encounter took place, a development that resulted in her son being the beneficiary.


“Mekhi has always loved Shaq,” Chamberlain said. Since he was five years old, he would tell me that his dream was to play a game of one-on-one with Shaq. To Mekhi, Shaquille O’Neal is larger-than-life. The other day I was in the living room watching something on TV and a commercial for a national pizza chain came on. Just as the commercial came on, Mekhi walked out of his room and was mesmerized by the fact that Shaq was going all around the town delivering pizzas to people.”


Much to his delight, the young sports buff had become even more attentive to the commercial ad featuring his hero.

“Over the last five years, he has become a real life NBA basketball Wikipedia,” said Chamberlain, trying the best she could to assess her young and gifted son’s amazing gift that centered on big time sports. “You can ask him any question you want to about players from Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, Kobe, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Isaiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Tracy McGrady, Charles Barkley, Step Curry, Kevin Durant, Kwahi Leonard, Clay Thompson, Ben Simmons to Zion Williamson.”

“Mekhi could not believe his eyes…he thought that was the coolest thing ever,” Chamberlain recalled. “Right after the commercial went off, Mekhi asked me to call or text Shaq and ask him to bring him a (Papa John’s) pepperoni pizza. I just looked at him with a blank stare—I honestly didn’t know what to say to him regarding his request, because I was thinking to myself, “Yeah right. I don’t know Shaq’s telephone number—so I can’t call or text him and ask him to bring a pizza over here.

“Mekhi wholeheartedly believed that I would know how to contact Shaq and he was very persistent, so he went as far as to go pick up my cell phone and he handed it to me and said, ‘Here mom, please go ahead and call or text Shaq.’”

Interestingly, things would eventually become even more interesting for Mehki.

“Mekhi wholeheartedly believed that I would know how to contact Shaq and he was very persistent, so he went as far as to go pick up my cell phone and he handed it to me and said, ‘Here mom, please go ahead and call or text Shaq.’”

“Not wanting to let my child down, I grabbed my phone and sent a ‘Hail Mary’ DM to Shaq on Instagram, because my son was standing right there watching me type the message,” Chamberlain said. “No pressure…and I hit, ‘send,’ never thinking that Shaq would actually see the message or read it.”

Boy, was she wrong — wrong for all the right reasons to put it more precisely.

“A few days passed, but everyday Mekhi would ask me, ‘Did Shaq text you back yet?’” Chamberlain said. “While looking for his pizza, he truly believed his favorite player wouldn’t let him down. So I would just remind Mekhi that Shaq is a very busy man, but told him that perhaps when he isn’t so busy, he would make time to respond to my message.”

Once someone picks Mekhi’s brain about any major professional athlete — past or present — they might as well brace themselves for what essentially will be said next.

Suddenly, the long-awaited and figurative slam dunk for which Mekhi had waited was finally executed.

“Then it happened,” Chamberlain said. “Three days later, I received a personal video message from Shaq to Mekhi and I almost lost it. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was a surreal moment in time. I couldn’t wait to show Mekhi that his hero, Shaq, had sent him a personal message. When Mekhi saw the message from Shaq, he was overjoyed. He was smiling from ear-to-ear and he talked about the video message all the way to school that morning.

“That same day, I was contacted by the National Pizza Chain via Twitter and they made it possible for Mekhi’s entire class to enjoy a pizza party, which made everyone’s day,” Chamberlain continued. “This is the stuff that dreams are made of.”

Much like the wealth of knowledge Chamberlain’s son has garnered as such a young age.

Stay tuned. This kid seems well on his way to making major moves in the sports world, something that, well, perhaps even Shaq has sensed.


REMEMBER THE NAME 

STAR WATCH — To his credit, the more he deems it essential to become knowledge about sports opposite up-to-date scores that customarily scroll across SportCenter’s Bottom Line, the more it seems that Mekhi essentially broadens his journalistic mechanics that figure to set him apart mightily from his peers much more sooner than later.

“It was so very thoughtful of Shaquille O’Neal to take a few moments out of his busy schedule to send Mekhi a message,” Chamberlain said. “It meant the world to him and it is something that he will never forget.”

With all of the sports knowledge he’s acquired in recent years, how could he?


CONNECT WITH THIS AWARD-WINNING JOURNALIST FOR MEDIA EXPOSURE

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you are an entrepreneur, business owner, producer, author, athlete, musician, barber, life coach, motivational speaker, cosmetologist, tax preparer, model, or pastor/minister who is seeking exposure and would like to share your story with an in-depth news feature, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him under “Andre T. Johnson” for details.

Andre Johnson is the award-winning Founder and Publisher for Making Headline News. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former staff reporter of sports for the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send email to makingheadlinenews@gmail.com or to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Arizona AAU basketball player Hannah Young ‘will be D-1 ready’ by 2023, her prep coach says

YOUNG AND GIFTED

BRINGIN’ IT — Besides proving to be as good as advertised for a player whose best and brightest days are well ahead of her, Arizona Select 15-and-under basketball player Hannah Young seemingly has taken it upon herself to go to the extra mile, particularly with regards to becoming a better overall student athlete.

DALLAS — It doesn’t take much to fuel Robin Young’s desire to strike up an in-depth conversation about Hannah Young, her gifted amateur athlete daughter, who’s making her presence felt on the AAU circuit.

Consider, for instance, how Robin routinely goes about assessing the performance of her daughter, a 13-year-old athlete who stars for the Arizona Select Girls Under Amour Association 15-and-under squad that’s based in Phoenix.
“Hannah is a diamond in the rough,” Robin told Making Headline News during a recent interview.
That her immeasurable mechanics, coupled with her length and wing span, have progressed considerably in recent years, Robin and those who have monitored closely Hannah’s rise as a youth basketball player have christened her with a name that figures to stick for years to come.

“We call her the clean-up woman,” Robin said of her daughter, who has gone from a shooting guard to a power forward since making a transition to the 15-and-under division. “She makes moves to the basket and finishes when giving the ball in the post. Rebounding and mid-range jumper have improved along with her put-backs.”

Besides proving to be as good as advertised for a player whose best and brightest days are well ahead of her, Hannah seemingly has taken it upon herself to go the extra mile, particularly with regards to becoming a better overall student athlete.

That her immeasurable mechanics, coupled with her length and wing span, have progressed considerably in recent years, Robin and those who have monitored closely Hannah’s rise as a youth basketball player have christened her with a name that figures to stick for years to come.

During the course of the summer, for instance, the rising Xavier College Preparatory freshman not only established a camaraderie by playing pickup games with her high school teammates, but she also found time between competitive play by taking two summer school classes.

For her valiant efforts: two A’s, a feat that consequently brought her mother to all smiles.


“She understands the true meaning of student athlete,” Robin said of her daughter’s willingness to exceed her own expectations. “She works hard on and off the court.”


A native of nearby Irving, Texas, Hannah has become engaged in what undoubtedly has been an eventful summer for a youth athlete, who’s making a solid case that she’s destined to attract interests from college scouts and recruiters — much sooner than later.

Amongst the reasons is that she’s currently active with a somewhat congested AAU itinerary, one that included a recent visit to the Mill City Invitational in Minnesota and the Girls Under Amour Session II in Indianapolis.

But wait. She isn’t finished.

Hannah also is scheduled to participate in the AAU’s Southern Showtime in Atlanta from July 20-22 and will cap off her summer-long slate by competing in the Girls Under Amour Finals July 23-26.

Arizona Select is comprised of five different teams and three UAA age divisions (15, 16, and 17-and-under).


MORE ON HANNAH YOUNG: https://recruit-match.ncsasports.org/clientrms/athletes/6295766

ALL-AROUND ATHLETE — During the course of the summer, for instance, the rising Xavier College Preparatory freshman not only established a camaraderie by playing pickup games with her high school team, but she also found the time between competitive play by taking two summer school classes. For her valiant efforts: two A’s, a feat that consequently brought her mother to all smiles.

The 15-and-under squad is comprised of its top freshmen and middle school players, particularly those who do not earn roster spots on 16-and-under team. A team that represents Arizona Select’s Girls 15-and-under division of Under Armour Association, players selected to this team are elite participants, who successfully compete against elite competition at their respective age division and are striving to play high level college basketball.

Interestingly, the players will compete in regional and national events against other GUAA teams, as well as against elite competition nationwide. Their schedules include — but isn’t limited to — team practices, skills training, strength and conditioning training, and frequent out-of-state travel.

As for the immeasurable exposure Hannah has had the luxury to garner, Robin says she daughter is especially deserving of it, given her solid work ethic.

“(Xavier College Preparatory) coach Jennifer Gillom is excited to have Hannah as a freshman,” Robin said. “She believes that at the end of her four years at Xavier, she will be D-1 (Division 1) ready. Gillom loves that fact that Hannah is coachable and so eager to get to the next level.”


ARIZONA MADNESS 

NATIONAL AUDITION — The 15-and-under UAA team is comprised of its top freshmen and middle school players, particularly those who do not earn roster spots on 16-and-under team. A team that represents Arizona Select’s Girls 15-and-under division of Under Armour Association, players selected to this team is elite players, who successfully compete against elite competition at their respective age division and are striving to play high level college basketball.

But first thing’s first, Robin’s stressed.

“Hannah’s goal is to bring Xavier College Preparatory its first girls’ high school state championship.”

As if anyone should be surprised.


A RELATED STORY:

Arizona youth basketball player Hannah Young learning life lessons, fine-tuning her skills with help of former WNBA player


CONNECT WITH THIS AWARD-WINNING JOURNALIST FOR MEDIA EXPOSURE

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

Andre Johnson is the award-winning Founder and Publisher of Making Headline News. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and former reporter of sports for the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send email to makingheadlinenews@gmail.com or to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Mid-South AAU hoops player Christian Brown following in foosteps of his mom and dad

BEAST MODE 

REMEMBER THE NAME — To his credit, AAU basketball standout Christian Brown went into beast mode during what was a memorable AAU game between Brown’s Murfreesboro, Tennessee-area Storm squad versus Eagleville. In a game that will go down as arguably the most memorable one to date for Brown, his Storm team faced a 12-point deficit with inside of two minutes remaining. That is when spectators witnessed flashes of greatness surrounding a kid who’s nearing 6-foot as a preteen.

He’s only 12 years of age.

But for a youth basketball player, Christian Brown is a beast on the court.

To his credit, he certainly went into full beast mode during what was a memorable AAU game between Brown’s Murfreesboro, Tennessee-area Storm squad versus Eagleville.

In a game that will go down as arguably the most memorable one to date for Brown, his Storm team faced a 12-point deficit with inside of two minutes remaining.
That is when spectators witnessed flashes of greatness surrounding a kid who’s nearing 6-foot as a preteen.
Brown was the catalyst for a Storm team that stormed back in the waning moments, erasing a double-digit deficit and miraculously coming away with a 50-49 victory, having outscored the opposition, 18-3, the rest of the way.
In manufacturing 17 points in what was an AAU game for the ages, Brown managed some late heroics when he stole an in-bounds pass and was fouled as a result.

His two clutch free throws helped the Storm ease out to the final margin and, most importantly, his immeasurable display proved to be a microcosm of his resiliency for which he customarily exemplifies in close-game situations.

So remember the name, much sooner than later: Christian Brown.

Because if there’s one thing he’s proven, it’s that his best and brightest days are well ahead of him.

“I always tell him he’s destined for greatness and to always make the most of each day,” said Chelsea Brown, Christians’s mother, during interview with Making Headline News this week. “That day will be confirmation of what we speak into his life on a daily basis.”

If anyone can appropriately assess — and critique — Christian’s progress on and off the court, it’s his mother.

Chelsea Brown was a basketball standout in her own right, most notably in high school, where she starred for perennial power Memphis Whitehaven (from 1990 to 1992), which boasted a number of Division 1 recruits. Brown went on to star at SWAC member Southern University from 1992 to 1995, capping off what was stellar basketball tenure for the native Memphian.


RESPECT DA HAVEN

IN RETROSPECT — Christian Brown’s mother, Chelsea Brown, was a basketball standout in her own right, most notably in high school, where she starred for perennial power Whitehaven (from 1990 to 1992), which boasted a number of Division 1 recruits.

Given that her son seems on path to following in the footsteps of his parents – both his mother and father are former athletes — it’s safe to assume that, well, the apple didn’t fall very far from the tree (with all due respect).

“Of course, I will be overjoyed to see his dreams and aspirations come to fruition,” said Chelsea Brown how special would it be if her son is fortunate to sign a National Letter of Intent to play college basketball. “But most of all, I’m thankful for the opportunity for him to continue to grow as an athlete.”

Chances are, the 5-foot-10 Christian Brown will grow — literally and figuratively — in the foreseeable future as he looks ahead to next season as one of the marquee players for Rocky Fork Middle School in Smyrna, Tennessee.

A slim 113-pounder — yet with so much growing to do and weight to put on — Christian often rotates between playing the small forward and shooting guard positions.

In addition to his attractive length for a 12-year-old, he’s proven to hold his own and make his presence felt, particularly against bigger and more experienced players, a trend that shouldn’t merely come as a surprise, considering Christian began playing competitive basketball at five years of age for the Rutherford County basketball league.

“He beat everyone down the court and played good defense,” Chelsea Brown said. “And he was the tallest kid on the court most of the time.”

The possibility exist that will surely be the case when he transitions to the prep basketball ranks, an attribute that figures to garner the attention of scouts and recruiters.


“He never ceases to amaze me,” Chelsea said her son’s continuous progress. “I love watching him exceed my expectations through growth and development. He always plays to the end.”

He sure does.

Remember that recent game against Eagleville?

His mother sure does. There’s a good chance she won’t be forgetting it, either.

FULL RIDE — Brown (in powder blue) went on to star at SWAC member Southern University from 1992 to 1995, capping off what was stellar basketball tenure for the native Memphian.

“I actually witnessed him lead his team to victory with two minutes on the clock and they were down by 12,” said Chelsea in pure wonderment. “I saw it in his eyes. He reads his opponents and went into (attack mode) and came out victorious.”

That, to his credit, figures to be a sign of things to come — much sooner than later.


“My parents always tell me that as long as I work hard, developing as a student-athlete, they will always provide an avenue for me to succeed,” said Christian, who recently was the beneficiary of the Athlete Academic Award, given to the student-athlete with the highest grade point average (he manufactured a 3.6 GPA), as well as being named Offensive Player of the Year in both football and basketball.

In addition to his attractive length for a 12-year-old, he’s proven to hold his own and make his presence felt, particularly against bigger and more experienced players, a trend that shouldn’t merely come as a surprise, considering Christian began playing competitive basketball at five years of age for the Rutherford County basketball league.

“My dad is always there to support me, and his presence always motivates me to play hard.”

Interestingly, although he has plenty of basketball left to play before bolting the high prep ranks, Christian doesn’t shy away from the notion that’s he’s presently auditioning for a full-ride athletic scholarship.

As far as he’s concerned, there’s no time to waste, not when he’s closing in on 6-feet in height as a preteen and making his presence felt against more experienced players.

“I would like (scouts and recruiters) to know that I am a hard worker and coachable,” said Christian, who will attend a hoops camp at Duke University over the summer. “I am a team player and have experience, playing every position on the floor. Most of all, I’m always open to learning and using skills learned from camps and other resources.”


CONNECT WITH THIS AWARD-WINNING JOURNALIST FOR MEDIA EXPOSURE

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

Andre Johnson is the award-winning Founder and Publisher for Making Headline News. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former staff reporter of sports for the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send email to andre@makingheadlinenews.com or to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Thanks to a former NFL player, Duncanville’s Barak Gurnell has found his niche and passion in football


TEXAS CLASS 6A FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW


DUNCANVILLE, Texas — Tamara Gurnell was going on and on Wednesday morning about how her son, Barak Gurnell, doesn’t routinely watch football.

“He doesn’t watch a whole lot of football,” Tamara Gurnell told Making Headline News. “I could turn it on a game and he’ll go in another room. He’s just not into watching football like that.”


EYE OF THE PANTHER 

HEART OF A CHAMPION — A little more than two years removed from having become thoroughly active in competitive football, Barak Gurnell has made some pretty immeasurable strides for a Duncanville High team (15-0) that has re-emerged as a national standout and will square off against Houston’s North Shore (15-0) for the Texas Class 6A championship Saturday at 7 p.m. CST at AT&T Stadium.

That certainly isn’t the case for her son on the field.

A little more than two years removed from having become thoroughly active in competitive football, Barak Gurnell has made some pretty immeasurable strides for a Duncanville High team (15-0, ranked No. 8 nationally by MaxPreps.com) that has re-emerged as a national standout and will square off against Houston’s North Shore (15-0, ranked No. 10 nationally by MaxPreps.com) for the Texas Class 6A championship Saturday at 7 p. m. CST at AT&T Stadium.

Led by former Dallas Skyline coach Reggie Sample, Duncanville is ranked No. 1 in Texas Class 6A, according to MaxPreps. North Shore is ranked No. 2.

A 6-foot-3, 285-pound senior defensive tackle, Gurnell has practically held his own and made a name for himself as a marquee player for a Panther defensive unit that denied perennial power Allen of a second consecutive state title with a 44-35 win in the state semifinals.


“Football has become a very important part of my life in a very short period of time and I honestly can’t see going to college without it. It pushes me to be a better version of myself every day.” — Duncanville senior defensive tackle Barak Gurnell 


STOCK IS RISING — What a difference two years have made for a young, gifted kid whom, to his credit, has managed to attract interests from a host of college, a trend he expects to increase much sooner than later.

Football alone isn’t the only factor that has greatly inspired Gurnell to maximize his potential as he continues to lobbies for a full ride scholarship as a member of a nationally-ranked Duncanville team that’s loaded with Division 1-caliber players and is back in the state championship for the first time in two decades.

Amongst those who essentially spearheaded Gurnell’s quest to consider football is former NFL player Roderick Lewis.

A former Dallas Bishop Dunne Catholic and University of Arizona star, Lewis, 47, played four professional seasons for the Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans from 1994-1997.

PIVOTAL EXTRA POINT — Amongst those who essentially spearheaded Gurnell’s quest to consider football is former NFL player Roderick Lewis. A former Dallas Bishop Dunne Catholic and University of Arizona star, Lewis, 47, played four professional seasons for the Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans from 1994-1997.

As Tamara Gurnell recalled, Lewis was rather direct when suggesting that her son — who already exhibits the size of an NFL defensive lineman — should serious consider giving football a try.

“My friend, Rod Lewis, hadn’t seen Barak for some time until his daughter’s 17th birthday party,” Tamara Gurnell explained. “Rod’s face lit up with excitement and he began to pat Barak on the back and chest, commenting on how big he had gotten.”

As it turns out, it seemed that divine intervention essentially couldn’t keep Barak Gurnell off of Lewis’ mind days after the two had crossed paths.

MOM KNOWS BEST –— Come Saturday night, amongst the things that will likely come to mind for Gurnell when he sets foot on Texas high school football’s biggest stage is how his willingness to embrace wise counsel has ultimately allowed his gift to make room for him.

“A few days later, Rod called me to discuss Barak’s future, highly encouraging (him) to consider football as a viable option to add to his high school portfolio,” Tamara Gurnell recalled.

And the rest, as they say, was history.

That’s because not only did Barak Gurnell heed the pertinent advice of Lewis but, much to his delight, it’s safe to assume that competitive football, by all accounts, has become an integral part of his life.

Come Saturday night, amongst the things that will likely come to mind for Gurnell when he sets foot on Texas high school football’s biggest stage is how his willingness to embrace some wise counsel has ultimately allowed his gift to make room for him.

Yep. What a difference two years have made for a young, gifted kid whom, to his credit, has managed to attract interests from a host of college, a trend he expects to increase much sooner than later.

“I have spoken to Lyon College over the phone and Texas State University (scouts) in person,” said Gurnell, adding that Oklahoma State and SMU have expressed interests in his services.

REMEMBER THE NAME — A 6-foot-3, 285-pound senior defensive tackle, Gurnell has practically held his own and made a name for himself as a marquee player for a Panther defensive unit that denied perennial power Allen of a second consecutive state title with a 44-35 win.

Surely, Gurnell’s short list of schools, in all likelihood, will expand, considering just this past summer, he attended camps at SMU, OSU, Baylor, TCU, the University of Houston, Rice University, and Texas A&M Commerce, among others.

“There will be no problems off the field,” said Gurnell, when asked what direct message he’d like to send to college scouts and recruiters. “I always make sure to conduct myself in a respectable fashion and that my grades are never a problem. Right now, I’m preparing for the state final game against North Shore, and I plan to continue to lift weights through the winter and do some conditioning once it gets warmer.”

If nothing else, for a youngster who’s a relatively newcomer to football, Gurnell certainly has become knowledgeable of the prerequisites essential for landing an athletic scholarship.

“The coaches give honest feedback,” Tamara Gurnell said of her son’s constant progression to the sport. “Essentially, Barak is a diamond in the rough. Because he is so new to the sport, the learning curve is massive.”

All things considered, one would be hard-pressed to discover just how “massive” of a curve it is, given the sustained success Gurnell has enjoyed in such a brief timeframe.

“He is a quick study, and in football, intellect is key,” said Tamara Gurnell, sounding very much like a prep football insider. “(The Duncanville coaching staff) believe he will be offered a (partial) scholarship, if not a full one, mainly because there is limited film due to his late start in the sport. They believe he will surely be an asset, because of his character and great grades.”

PUTTING IN WORK — If nothing else, for a youngster who’s a relatively newcomer to football, Gurnell certainly has become knowledgeable of the prerequisites essential to landing an athletic scholarship.

Something even a former NFL player had recognized at a birthday party.

Speaking of party, expect the Gurnells to host one if the Panthers upend North Shore Saturday night in Arlington, which is roughly two towns over from Duncanville.

Heck, expect them to throw an even bigger party if Barak Gurnell pulls off the unthinkable by signing a National Letter of Intent in the foreseeable future , which undoubtedly would be a massive, remarkable feat for a relatively newcomer to the sport.

“I will be proud (if he earns a football scholarship), because he is one step closer to his independence,” Tamara Gurnell said. “I am enjoying the man he is becoming.”

A youngster who already exhibits the frame of an NFL defensive lineman.

Talk about impressive.


CONNECT WITH THIS AWARD-WINNING JOURNALIST FOR MEDIA EXPOSURE

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you are an entrepreneur, business owner, producer, author, athlete, musician, barber, life coach, motivational speaker, cosmetologist, tax preparer, model, or pastor/minister who is seeking exposure and would like to share your story with an in-depth news feature, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him under “Andre T. Johnson” for details.

Andre Johnson is the award-winning Founder and Publisher for Making Headline News. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former staff reporter of sports for the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send email to andre@makingheadlinenews.com or to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Collierville offensive lineman Kendarius Malone’s mother writes him an open letter as he lobbies for football scholarship

MEMPHIS — Kendarius Malone can be appropriately described as an opportunistic student athlete.

STOCK RISING — Aside from helping steer the Collierville High to a third place finish in the always rugged 6A Region 7 district, Kendarius Malone enjoyed a resourceful, yet crucial senior season which, to his credit, had given way to at least one college thrusting him under its radar. According to the 17-year-old Collierville native, Mid-South Conference member Kentucky Christian University has expressed interest in Malone, who earned All-Region Honorable Mention for his valiant contributions.

Consider, for instance, how Malone, who recently wrapped up his prep football tenure for Collierville High, had gone about doing the necessary things to enhance his stock as he continues to lobby for a full ride scholarship.

A 6-foot, 260-pound left tackle, Malone made appearances — thus made his presence felt — this past spring and summer during camps at the University of Memphis, Belhaven College, Austin Peay State, not to mention the Team USA Camp.

“In the Team USA Camp, I made it to the final round to be able to play for the United States,” an enthused Malone told Making Headline News this week. “However, I had to withdraw so that I would not lose my eligibility to play for my senior year because of TSSAA rules.”

Although Malone didn’t savor the chance to showcase his football mechanics for his country, his immeasurable body of work, nevertheless, undoubtedly was nothing short of impressive.

For starters, he was the catalyst his senior campaign for a Collierville team that finished the season with a 5-6 overall record, but still managed to advance to the opening round of the TSSAA state playoffs.


EYE OF THE DRAGON

SOMEONE SIGN THIS KID — Malone, who recently wrapped up his prep football tenure for Collierville High, had gone about doing the necessary things to enhance his stock as he continues to lobby for a full ride scholarship.

Aside from helping steer the Dragons to a third place finish in the always rugged 6A Region 7 district, Malone enjoyed a resourceful, yet crucial senior season which, to his credit, had given way to at least one college thrusting him under its radar.

According to the 17-year-old Collierville native, Mid-South Conference member Kentucky Christian University has expressed interest in Malone, who earned All-Region Honorable Mention for his valiant contributions.

“I would say that I had an excellent season,” Malone said.

Much to Malone’s delight, no can attest to how great a season he enjoyed more than his mother, Jennifer Bogan.

ALL AMERICAN IN HIS OWN RIGHT — A 6-foot, 260-pound left tackle, Malone made it appearance — thus made his presence felt — this past spring and summer during camps at the University of Memphis, Belhaven College, Austin Peay State, not to mention the Team USA Camp.

Hours after the Collierville’s team banquet Monday night, Bogan took to her Facebook page, where she assembled an open letter to her son in relatively loving, emotional fashion.

Said Bogan in a spirited, tear-jerking, early morning post that was made public before her nearly-400 social media followers:


Congratulations to Kendarius on a wonderful time at the CHS football banquet. You didn’t receive the top award that you wanted, but baby, the champion lies within your heart. You fought a great battle, and to even see last night happen and for that, there is no trophy, certificate, banner, or plaque worthy enough to symbolize how blessed you are after all that you have been through. You didn’t lose sight of your dreams and didn’t lose your faith in seeing your senior football season happen! Your story is still unfinished. The reason of this path is still unknown, but what we do know is there is purpose behind every situation! The thing I love about you is no matter what, you have not gotten discouraged and still hours later, you looked on to what’s getting ready to happen in the next chapter and the next doors that’s opening, and for that I’m sooo proud of you! Again, congratulations on the award you did receive…keep going and keep having the heart of a champion in all the things you do…with God, ALL things are possible!!! Mama loves you! 


Talk about an encouraging, open letter for the ages — this from a mother whom, years ago, didn’t sense her son would become engaged in athletics.

“I never thought that Kendarius would play football, because he was never interested in sports growing up,” Bogan, a Pharmacy Technician Supervisor at Baptist Memorial Hospital, said. “He was in the shadows of his older brother’s basketball teams, being the water boy. I never thought he would play football until he started his eighth year at First Assembly Christian School and the coaches kept begging him to play and told me that they see so much potential in him.

HOLDING IT DOWN — Malone was the catalyst his senior campaign for a Collierville team that finished the season with a 5-6 overall record, but still managed to advance to the opening round of the TSSAA state playoffs.

“However, I didn’t think anything of it and had said ‘No’ to him playing football until one day he came home with pads, and a consent form.”

Malone, as Bogan recalled, was 14 years old at the time.

A little more than three years removed from having come home with a consent form to play competitive football, Bogan’s son now finds himself just one National Letter of Intent signing away from attending college free of charge.

What a difference having initially assumed the role as a water boy has made.

When asked what kind of player will a college be inheriting if he’s offered a football scholarship, Malone said, “A player that is passionate about the game of football… (one who is) ready to learn and be taught how to excel at the college level, a player that is open to all possibilities, and one the will give 110 percent on every snap and every down.

That, after all, practically sums up why he can be appropriately described as an opportunistic student athlete.


CONNECT WITH THIS AWARD-WINNING JOURNALIST FOR MEDIA EXPOSURE

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

Andre Johnson is the award-winning Founder and Publisher for Making Headline News. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former staff reporter of sports for the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send email to andre@makingheadlinenews.com or to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

 

Lewisville High football standout Tahj Martin: ‘It is a dream for me to play college football’

LEWISVILLE, Texas — Tahj Martin is just a tender 15-year-old student athlete.

A great, big gigantic one, that is.

Consider, for instance, Martin’s massive frame that is comprised of his standing 6-foot-3 and weighing in at 261 pounds which, to his credit, is practically equivalent of an NFL lineup.


FRESHMAN SENSATION

UNDER THE RADAR — Assuming roles on both sides of the ball as a left tackle and defensive end for Lewisville coach Michael Odle’s squad, Tahj Martin enjoyed a significant amount of action this past season for the Farmers as his stock amongst college scouts and recruiters increased mightily in the process.

Speaking of the NFL, Martin doesn’t shy away from the notion that playing football on Sundays undoubtedly is amongst his major long-term ambitions.

But first thing’s first: blossoming as a rising prep footballer.

“I am a hard working athlete, who has come from very humble surroundings,” Martin told Making Headline News during a weekend interview. “I am a magnet and people gravitate to me, because of my winning personality and attitude.”

A triumphant mentality certainly highlights Martin’s assortment of key attributes as a true freshman for Lewisville (Texas) High’s football team.

 

STOCK IS RISING — With so much high school football ahead of him, Martin has already garnered interests from Texas Christian University and the University of Texas.

Martin, in fact, is coming off of a productive and breakthrough season for an upstart Lewisville team that finished the 2018 campaign with a 9-3 mark, including an impressive 6-1 record in 6A Region I District 6, second only to conference rival Flower Mound.

Assuming roles on both sides of the ball as a left tackle and defensive end for coach Michael Odle’s squad, Martin enjoyed a significant amount of action for the Farmers as his stock amongst college scouts and recruiters increased mightily in the process.

No one, it seems, can attest to his notion more than his father, Geoffrey Grant Martin, who’s thoroughly convinced that his son is making a strong case that his prep football career will culminate with him signing a National Letter of Intent.

TEXAS-SIZED IMPACT — Martin is coming off of a productive and breakthrough season for an upstart Lewisville team that finished the 2018 campaign with a 9-3 mark, including an impressive 6-1 record in 6A Region I District 6, second only to conference rival Flower Mound.

“Tahj has grown tremendously both on the field and off,” Geoffrey Grant said. “He’s gained a level of confidence and passion for not only his role on the team, but for the entire team itself, all while maintaining his grades academically.”

All things considered, Martin’s favorable display as a true freshmen for the Farmers has, in fact, given way to a few college scouts deeming it essential to thrust him under their radar.

With so much high school football ahead of him, Martin has already garnered interests from Texas Christian University and the University of Texas.

DOING IT BIG IN TEXAS — Martin’s massive frame that is comprised of his standing 6-foot-3 and weighing in at 261 pounds which, to his credit, is practically equivalent of an NFL lineup.

Given the immeasurable impact he’s had thus far in his prep career, expect that list to expand much sooner than later.

“It is a dream for me (to play college football), because I am made and built for the sport of football,” Martin said. “I know that all the years I have been playing will pay off and a college scholarship would be the ultimate satisfaction of all.”

Although he did not attend any camps this past summer because of unforeseen circumstances, Martin was especially active, particularly as it relates to conditioning regularly and monitoring his weight.

“(I would typically workout) Monday and Wednesday mornings and in the afternoons, (and would take part in) cardio training on Saturdays and Sundays,” Martin said. “I also work on healthy eating habits that include making smoothies and protein snacks to build a strong muscle mass.”

DON’T LEAVE ME HANGING — A triumphant mentality certainly highlights Martin’s assortment of key attributes as a true freshman for Lewisville High’s football team.

Despite his overall body of work on and off the field, coupled with the impressive resume he’s established to this point, Martin also doesn’t shy away from the notion that no one has to persuade him not to hit the cruise control button at this point.

Not with so much prep football ahead of him.


“I performed exceptionally well (during the 2018 season), but I still have more work to do. I’ve got to work more on dropping into coverage. I have to work on that. My speed needs to improve, but with growth, I know I will get faster.” — Lewisville freshman Tahj Martin


WAITING HIS TURN — All things considered, Martin’s favorable display a true underclassmen for the Farmers has, in fact, given way to a few college scouts deeming it essential to thrust him under their radar.

A pretty wise and thorough assessment, this coming from a tender 15-year-old student athlete.

A great, big gigantic one, that is.

One whose short list of interested colleges undoubtedly is expected to expand much sooner than later.

So stay tuned.


For more information about Lewisville (Texas) High School football standout Tahj Gabriel Martin, connect with him via social media at:

Instagram: @tahjmartin12

Snaphat: tmahal_878

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tahj.martin.1

Twitter: @martin2Tahj


CONNECT WITH THIS AWARD-WINNING JOURNALIST FOR MEDIA EXPOSURE

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

Andre Johnson is the award-winning Founder and Publisher for Making Headline News. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former staff reporter of sports for the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send email to andre@makingheadlinenews.com or to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

Atlanta-area prep basketball standout Markus Lofton is as good as advertised as he auditions for a scholarship

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of a series of reports on Berkmar High School basketball standout Markus Lofton as Making Headline News will chronicle his progress through his upcoming senior campaign. 


Making Headline News earlier this week took some time to observe YouTube footage of Atlanta-area prep basketball standout Markus Lofton.

Yep, surely, the kid who’s widely known as “The Old Soul” and “The Silent Assassin” is as good as advertised, a trend a flurry of college scouts and recruiters will likely discover in this, Lofton’s forthcoming final full year of high hoops.

“Markus first started playing basketball when he was three years old,” said Marlon Lofton, Markus’ father. “He would not leave the house without a basketball jersey, wrist bands, and head band on.”

Ever since his parents first introduced him to basketball, Markus Lofton has been nothing short of brilliant, especially on the ever-so-competitive ATL hoops circuit.

A 6-foot swingman who helped propel Greg Phillips’ Berkmar High team to a third place region mark of 16-13 finish in 2017-18, Markus Lofton figures to raise his level of play in what undoubtedly will be a crucial campaign for him.

Crucial in the sense that he knows full well that he’s auditioning for a full ride scholarship, something he’s dreamt about since, well, he first picked up a basketball at tender age of three.

“They’ve been very encouraging and uplifting,” said Markus Lofton, explaining his parents’ immeasurable impact on rise as one of Berkmar’s marquee players. “They always persuade me to follow my dreams.”

SOLID SUPPORTING CAST — For what’s it worth, the Loftons are confident that given their son’s immeasurable track record on the court to date, the time and work he’s invested will surely pay off with arguably his grand prize — a full ride scholarship, coupled with a college basketball uniform.

And following diligently after his dreams is certainly what this basketball-crazed kid has done throughout the years.

Coming off of a stellar junior campaign in which he was afforded the golden opportunity to play significant roles both of the varsity and junior varsity squads, Markus Lofton held his own and, a majority of the time, he exceeded his own expectations.

WATCH MARKUS LOFTON IN ACTION: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=BPzdPSgVf7Y&t=2s

For starters, he manufactured an impressive scoring average last year with 16 points per game along with four rebounds, while handing out five assists while being the only Berkmar player to see action both on JV and varsity. Add to the fact that he converted 91 percent of his free throws and shot an impressive 52 percent from three-point range, and it’s no wonder he’s already fallen under the radar of a handful of major Division 1 schools.

AUDITIONS UNDERWAY — According to Markus Lofton, Baylor, Stetson, Auburn, and Clemson are amongst the schools that have expressed interest in his services.

With others likely to follow, presuming his all-around game takes a significant upgrade this upcoming season.

According to Markus Lofton, Baylor, Stetson, Auburn, and Clemson are amongst the schools that have expressed interest in his services.

“It’s been a dream since I was younger,” Markus Lofton said of the possibility of playing major college basketball. “Basketball is all that I know and have studied, so it not being a dream wasn’t an option for me.”

As he prepares for his decisive prep season, Markus’ father, too, has stressed to his son the importance of not settling for the success he enjoyed last year. Rather, he deems it essential to often remind him on the importance of increasing his productivity and leadership qualities. 

MORE OF MARKUS LOFTON IN ACTION: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=MuYCATpagZ0&t=6s 

“To whom much is given, much is required,” said Marlon Lofton, when asked what pertinent advice he often passes along his son, whose impressive basketball resume includes playing for the Georgia Tornadoes, G- Team USA and ATL Playmakers AAU squads. “I also tell him what his great grandmother told me: ‘Let the work you do, speak for you.’ I think this is why he is always in the gym. He doesn’t miss a day in the gym with his coaches or working on his game and training.”

HOOP DREAMS — For what’s it worth, the Loftons are confident that given their son’s immeasurable track record on the court to date, the time and work he’s invested will surely pay off with arguably his grand prize — a full ride scholarship, coupled with a college basketball uniform.

For what’s it worth, the Loftons are confident that given their son’s immeasurable track record on the court to date, the time and work he’s invested will surely pay off with arguably his long-awaited grand prize — a full ride scholarship, coupled with a college basketball uniform.

And everything else that comes with it.

“He is smart, witty, and wants to study Sports Management, Education, and Health outside of basketball,” said Marlon Lofton, adding that his son boasts what he deems a high IQ and exceptional wisdom. “With sports growing the way that it does, the door for him is wide open with major opportunities.

“My wife of 31 years and I believed that he loved the sport so much, he would sit and study the game, watching his older brother (Markele) who is a good player and has graduated from Georgia State University.”

DAD KNOWS BEST — “To whom much is given, much is required,” said Marlon Lofton, when asked what pertinent advice he often passes along his son, whose impressive basketball resume includes playing for the Georgia Tornadoes, G- Team USA and ATL Playmakers AAU squads. “I also tell him what his great grandmother told me: ‘Let the work you do, speak for you.’ I think this is why he is always in the gym. He doesn’t miss a day in the gym with his coaches or working on his game and training.”

If Markus Lofton’s has his way and continues to show he’s as good as advertised, the Lofton household will soon find itself going to more college basketball games in the near future.

So stay tuned.

As evidenced by all of that impressive YouTube footage of the kid who’s widely known as “The Old Soul” and “The Silent Assassin”. 


CONNECT WITH THIS AWARD-WINNING JOURNALIST FOR MEDIA EXPOSURE

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you are an entrepreneur, business owner, producer, author, athlete, musician, barber, life coach, motivational speaker, cosmetologist, tax preparer, model, or pastor/minister who is seeking exposure and would like to share your story with an in-depth news feature, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him under “Andre T. Johnson” for details.

Andre Johnson is the award-winning Founder and Publisher for Making Headline News. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former staff reporter of sports for the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send email to andre@makingheadlinenews.com or to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Alabama-based minister/businesswoman ‘Nia’ advancing the kingdom mightily courtesy of her thriving ministry

Just recently, accomplished Alabama-based minister/businesswoman Nia was asked to share in great detail her present endeavors.

And just like that, a life-enhancing, emotional testimony unfolded for all the right reasons. 

“I am a planter in the kingdom vineyard,” Nia, 43, told Making Headline News during an exclusive interview.

BOLD GOD-ORDAINED DECLARATION — For what it’s worth and because of the immeasurable, God-orchestrated calling on her life, Nia can dauntlessly profess that she’s one who is qualified to function in the endeavors to which God has strategically assigned her.

A disabled United States Navy veteran and a retired Department of Labor Counselor, Nia is actively involved in a variety of kingdom-based endeavors, most notably an E-Magazine and a Radio Talk Show, both of which are powered by  her forthcoming publication, “Untold Chronicles.” In addition, she has authored several books, as well as conducts regular seminars, and hosts a prayer line.

Having admittedly birthed these of endeavors out of what she describes as “the hurt, the shame, the disappointment, the ridicule, the defamation of character, the back stabbing, the neglect for my soul and the souls of others,” Nia doesn’t shy away from the notion that she’s steadfastly walking in the purpose for which God created her.

“This is now my purpose in life that initially was not seen through my natural eyes, but after an encounter with God, it was revealed to me that my testimony was to be someone else’s salvation,” Nia explained while referencing the familiar passage that is Romans 8:30. “But I first had to be tried, tested and fit for the Master’s use. To whom He calls, He qualifies.”

For what it’s worth and because of the immeasurable, God-orchestrated calling on her life, Nia can dauntlessly profess that she’s one who is surely qualified to function in the endeavors to which God has strategically assigned her.

“First, I love the interactions with meeting people in all walks of life and being able to tell them about my personal experiences and how I found Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. And, how after seeing Him through the eyes of others (leaders, mature Saints, and those that accepted Jesus in their lives before me), and finally realizing that I myself had not being taught or shown how to know — having an intimate relationship— Him for myself,” Nia said.

WOMAN OF MANY HATS — A disabled United States Navy veteran and a retired Department of Labor Counselor, Nia is actively involved in a variety of kingdom-based endeavors, most notably an E-Magazine and a Radio Talk Show. In addition, she has authored several books, conducts regular seminars, and hosts a prayer line.

As for the spiritual and competitive drive that have greatly fueled her desire to diligently advance the kingdom for such a time as now, Nia  appropriately alluded to what she deems her “bulldog tenacity,” the kind of passion that is synonymous to that of David.

“Though I was small like David in stature and size, I had to have a ferocious nature,” Nia said. Due to being what my family and society deemed as being not the norm, I had to figure out how to navigate through life on my own. My environment gave me no choice other than to be a natural fighter and, when I turned to the church, where I was supposed to have solace and refuge in order to not have to fight alone, it was quickly revealed that the difference between what I was accustomed to in the world and what I was now — being subjected to in the church — was the words, because the actions were exactly the same.”

A proud 1992 graduate of Jess Lanier High School in Bessemer, Alabama, Nia sold out completely to God when she dedicated her life to Christ in April 1994, during which she served in the United States Navy and was based in Honolulu.

“See, I was born into an environment where I was predisposed for failure, teen pregnancy by multiple fathers and an impoverished lifestyle,” Nia recalled. “Over the course of 23 years, the experiences and encounters that I was faced with set the stage for me to be able to take an honest look at myself first, and then be willing to be transparent about my own interactions.”

Upon finishing high school, Nia advanced her education, first by earning an Associate of Arts Degree in General Studies, then a Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Science from Tulane University in 2009. Consequently, she earned a Master’s Degree in Christian Counseling from Trinity Theological Seminary in 2013.

As for what has shaped up to be a flourishing ministry, it was due in large part to Nia’s array of transparency that this big-hearted, beloved, spiritually aggressive and devout woman of faith had ultimately possessed the courage to outlast the enemy with God, her Helper, leading the way.

KEEPING IT 100  — It was, by all accounts, due in large part to her array of transparency that this big-hearted, beloved, spiritually aggressive and devout woman of faith had ultimately possessed the courage to outlast the enemy with God, her Helper, leading the way.

“Those events paved the way for me to have the courage to expose the enemy concerning the interactions of those that were supposed to lead me through this journey,” Nia said.

Armed with an assortment of immense spiritual gifts that, to her credit, have afforded her the golden opportunity to minister in such establishments as Mississippi, Alabama, Philadelphia, Missouri, Florida, Illinois, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, and the nation’s capital, it’s safe to assume that Nia’s well-publicized ministry has been embraced by many throughout the Body of Christ.

Yep, that’s just like God.

“The word of God is for everyone that will accept Him,” said Nia, alluding to Luke 14:23. “but my assignment to the Body of Christ — because everyone has been given a particular assignment, gift and calling — is to the Millennials. Those in this era that are misunderstood, downtrodden, talked about, given up on, ridiculed, hated and shown extreme amounts of prejudices need a voice to speak to them and for them.”

To grasp a thorough concept of this rather fervent, bold approach by which Nia customarily takes, look no further than what she labels her “niche by God’s design.”

“(It) has been to those already in a relationship with Him, but have suffered at the hands of those that lead them,” said Nia, explaining in detail her mission for her latest endeavors. “This epidemic continues to plague the Body of Christ in a way that casts a dark and derogatory image over us.”

Wait…because she has more to add to such an intriguing, thought-provoking notion.

Armed with an assortment of immense spiritual gifts that, to her credit, have afforded her the golden opportunity to minister in such places as Mississippi, Alabama, Philadelphia, Missouri, Florida, Illinois, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, and the nation’s capital, it’s safe to assume that Nia’s well-publicized ministry has been embraced by many throughout the Body of Christ.

“See, we all have played a role at some point in this infection diseased community,” said Nia, referencing Isaiah 65:8. “The hurter — the one who did the hurting — the on-looker of the hurt that is being done — the one watching the hurt being done to someone — and the hurtee — the one that has been hurt — but is yet giving out the hurt that they themselves once experienced.”

All of which essentially sums up why that Nia is a planter in the kingdom vineyard makes all of the sense in the world, all of which practically explains why her unique, awe-inspiring presence in the modern-day church is so prevalent for a time such as now.

Talk about having a massive and influential kingdom impact.

“Throughout this journey, I have experienced a high-level of spiritual warfare with a great level of non-comprehension…just extreme amounts of hurt,” said Nia, who has been serving in her ministry for over five years but have been rooted and grounded in the Body of Christ for a nearly a decade and a half. “These experiences have allowed me to grow into the person I currently am and, the entire reason that I do what I do for the Body of Christ, I never want to see anyone endure what was thrust upon me.”

Interestingly, Nia emphasized, it all goes back to what she describes as her level of admiration, love, and compassion for people, just as God commands us through His word.

“(My love and compassion for people) continues to overwhelm me,” Nia said. “So much so that I will give all I have and all of my time to forever serve them and bring them into a level of understanding of where they are and what God has called them to do as well.

“This brings to mind several specific instances that occurred that may shed a little light on my tenacity,” continued Nia, while offering thorough breakdown, one that goes something like this:

 

NIA: IN HER OWN WORDS

(As told to Making Headline News)

2003 – I had been serving at this ministry for over five years and had experienced nothing but continual death to my spirit. I was talked about from the pulpit, I was embarrassed on more than one occasion, my character was on trial, my marriage place in jeopardy, finances constantly lacking because of giving and no reaping and no glimmer of hope at the forefront of my life. Needless to say, this was all at the hands of my SPIRITUAL LEADERS!

2005-2009 – In a very odd place in my life confused, broken, battered by the words that had been spoken spiritually and naturally, plagued by condemnation of my own self-inflicted wounds and destroyed by constant open scars and reminders of those that were supposed to comfort me in these stages of my life. Instead my name was spoken from lip to lip, church to church, city to city where they knew me. What should have been silent, and an indiscretion shared amongst leaders and myself was handed out like a free chicken dinner after church on Sunday afternoon.

2016 – Everything was great, OR SO I THOUGHT. I had finally overcome many obstacles through the blood of the lamb and the words of my testimony, I told GOD yes to whatever he wanted from me and I was moving forward to my next phase in him. Starting preparing to launch my ministry in 2015 and was aware that we would officially be New Era Ministries (where the millennials dwell) in January 2016. I had all things in order and family and I were ready to go. Don’t you know the enemy has to throw in a monkey wrench or he would not be himself. A couple of supposed to be pastors from a big city, Mega Ministry and high ranking platforms….or so they said. New to an area, had the same vision, and decided to move forward together. Of course you know this ended badly and the events that transpired took me completely out the game, vowing NEVER to preach again. The events above not only affected me greatly but also my family who more so than I vowed to NEVER put their trust in “church folks” again.

 

For more information about Nia or for  booking information, contact Omekia McNeal at 561-900-5079. Also, send email to: belindagailmanagement@gmail.com

 

LISTEN IN TO NIA AND BE BLESSED:

Penetecostal Church of Christ – Philadelphia, PA

A post shared by Nia Gee (@niageeministries) on

MORE OF NIA:

Penetecostal Church of Christ – Philadelphia, PA

A post shared by Nia Gee (@niageeministries) on

 

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you are an entrepreneur, business owner, producer, author, athlete, musician, barber, life coach, motivational speaker, cosmetologist, tax preparer, model, or pastor/minister who is seeking exposure and would like to share your story with an in-depth news feature, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him under “Andre T. Johnson” for details.

Andre Johnson is Founder and Publisher for Making Headline News. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former staff reporter the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send email to andre@makingheadlinenews.com or to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

South Carolina Pastor James Perry, Jr. winning souls both on and off the court as a thriving AAU basketball coach

 

LOVE AND BASKETBALL…AND THE BIBLEA former Abbeville (Alabama) High School and Lander University basketball standout, James Perry, Jr. is widely known as the Founder and Senior Pastor at Empowerment Worship Center in Greenville, South Carolina.
Interesting enough, when the 44-year-old minister isn’t decked out in his spiffy, flowing robe and giving sermons within the four walls of his church that is housed at 31 Calhoun Avenue in Greenville, chances are he’s somewhere nearby on EWC’s campus, teaching all things basketball fundamentals and mechanics as the head coach of the South Carolina Raptors seventh grade AAU squad.

Because of his deep admiration for spreading the Gospel and coaching basketball, it’s safe to assume that James Perry, Jr. is savoring the best of both worlds.

“Well, I love basketball for one,” said Perry, Jr. told Making Headline News during a recent interview. “I love mentoring the youth and I love pastoring. Having a gym at my church makes it so much. I mean, it’s hard work, but it’s community service.”

To his distinct credit, Perry, Jr. is strategically impacting lives both from the pulpit and on the hardwood.

HOOPS ON HOLY GROUNDMore than anything else, it seems, coaching the sport he loves essentially serves as a spiritual GPS system, of sorts, particularly as it relates to helping youngster find their way to Christ, all while simultaneously learning good sportsmanship and upgrading their skills and fundamentals.

A former Abbeville (Alabama) High School and Lander University basketball standout, Perry, Jr. is widely known as the Founder and Senior Pastor at Empowerment Worship Center in Greenville, South Carolina.

Interesting enough, when the 44-year-old minister isn’t decked out in his spiffy, flowing robe and giving sermons within the four walls of his church that is housed at 31 Calhoun Avenue in Greenville, chances are he’s somewhere nearby on EWC’s campus, teaching all things basketball fundamentals and mechanics as an assistant coach of the South Carolina Raptors seventh grade AAU squad.

Even upon finally accepting his calling to preach the Gospel come 18-plus year ago, the 6-foot-4 preacher was still very much active in competitive hoops.
How else to explain why today, approximately two years removed from his congregation having moved to its present location, Perry, Jr. still acknowledges how blessed and grateful he is to have a gymnasium adjacent to his sanctuary?

For Perry, Jr., while preaching isn’t something about which he was passionate even as a young preacher’s kid — or PK — he admittedly has always held a basketball close to his heart, considering the sport served as an outlet, of sorts, particularly with regards to him bolting home for college.

Even upon finally accepting his calling to preach the Gospel some 18-plus year ago, this 6-foot-4 giant of a preacher was still very much active in competitive hoops.

How else to explain why today, approximately two years removed from his congregation having moved to its present location, Perry, Jr. still acknowledges how blessed and grateful he is to have a gymnasium a few dribbles away from his sanctuary?

MORE THAN CONQUERORSIn many cases, Perry, Jr. said, coaching basketball is synonymous to preaching to the masses in that he’s often faced with the sometimes brutal tasks of taking the good with the bad encounters and vice versa.
“Basketball can be challenging and there are good and bad days,” Perry, Jr. explained. “You apply this to life, because no matter how hard it gets, you never quit and you keep pushing.

Talk about savoring the best of both worlds.

“I am passionate about basketball because I love it and it gives me the opportunity to teach and build relationships with young men,” Perry, Jr., who’s coached five years at the high school ranks, said. “It gives me the chance to be a counselor, a motivator and mentor while being a coach.”

More than anything else, it seems, coaching the sport he loves essentially serves as a spiritual GPS system, of sorts, particularly as it relates to helping youngsters find their way to Christ, all while simultaneously learning good sportsmanship and upgrading their skills and fundamentals.

BECOME EMPOWERED: http://empowermentworshipcenter.org/

In many cases, Perry, Jr. said, coaching basketball is synonymous to preaching to the masses in that he’s often faced with the sometimes brutal tasks of taking the good with the bad encounters and vice versa.

“Basketball can be challenging and there are good and bad days,” Perry, Jr. explained. “You apply this to life, because no matter how hard it gets, you never quit and you keep pushing. Many times, the kids get down on themselves, and this gives me the opportunity to lift them up. Life is the same way, but it will present roadblocks and challenges and they must know they have to keep pushing through.”

SLAM DUNKING FOR JESUS — For Perry, Jr., while preaching isn’t something about which he was passionate even as a young preacher’s kid — or PK — he admittedly has always held a basketball close to his heart, considering the sport served as an outlet, of sorts, particularly with regards to him bolting home for college.

Much like Perry, Jr., a Charlotte, North Carolina native, had found himself doing while growing up in a rather strict, Christian-oriented environment in which attending church had seemingly become as customary as, say, going to school.

Regardless, it is because of his father’s tough love and unyielding Godly wisdom, coupled with his strict parental commands that have greatly empowered Perry, Jr. to help empower youth athletes on the importance of staying empowered through Biblical principles and basketball — all on the campus of the Empowerment Worship Center.

How empowering.

“The sky is the limit because we teach our kids the game and life,” said Perry, Jr. whose Raptors have competed in such places as Tennessee, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Florida. “We push the student athlete and enforce accountability.”

All while savoring the best of both worlds.

Which, in Perry, Jr.’s case, is just the way God intended it to be all along.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you are an entrepreneur, business owner, producer, author, athlete, musician, barber, life coach, motivational speaker, cosmetologist, tax preparer, model, or pastor/minister who is seeking exposure and would like to share your story with an in-depth news feature, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him under “Andre T. Johnson” for details.

Andre Johnson is Founder and Publisher for Making Headline News. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former staff reporter the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Former New York Knick Derek Harper to Charles Oakley after MSG fiasco: ‘You got my support more than anything’

 

Y’ALL CHILL OUT: Hours after the New York Knicks fiasco involving Charles Oakley and owner James Dolan on February 8, former NBA point guard Derek Harper (left), an analyst for the Mavericks through Fox Sports Southwest who spent two seasons in New York from 1994-1996, contacted his former teammate to offer support. (Photo courtesy of The Dallas Morning News)

DALLAS — Saying that Charles Oakley “should have dealt with this situation differently,” former New York Knicks point guard Derek Harper wasted little time reaching out to his former teammate in the wake of an altercation involving Oakley and Madison Square Garden security guards on February 8.

In a statement released by the Knicks, the team said that upon arriving to the arena, Oakley behaved in a “highly inappropriate and completely abusive manner,” which led to his ejection from MSG and his subsequent arrest by the New York City Police Department.

MADISON SQUARE SQUABBLE — In a statement released by the Knicks, the team said that upon arriving to the arena, Oakley behaved in a “highly inappropriate and completely abusive manner,” which led to his ejection from MSG and his subsequent arrest by the New York City Police Department. The incident was believed to have been fueled by Oakley’s strained relationship with Knicks owner James Dolan, who banned Oakley a few days following the incident.

The incident was believed to have been fueled by Oakley’s strained relationship with Knicks owner James Dolan, who banned Oakley a few days following their alleged fallout. Dolan lifted the ban after meeting with Oakley and NBA commissioner Adam Silver, although Oakley, a former Knick who played 10 seasons in New York, has yet to accept the invitation and return to MSG.

A native of Cleveland, Oakley sat courtside next to Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert Thursday night to witness the Knicks drop their second consecutive game, 119-104.

Hours after the Knicks fiasco, Harper, an analyst for the Mavericks through Fox Sports Southwest who spent two seasons in New York from 1994-1996, contacted his former teammate to offer his support.

WELCOME HOME — A native of Cleveland, Oakley sat courtside next to Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert Thursday night to witness the Knicks drop their second consecutive game, 119-104. (Getty Images Photo)

“I texted Oak and told him he has my support more than anything,” Harper, who was drafted by the Mavericks with the 11th overall pick of the 1983 NBA Draft, told Making Headline News. “We had a dog pound in New York, and I was apart of the dog pound with Oak, so I’m not surprised he tried to protect himself. That’s who Oak is. Everybody loves Charles Oakley.”

According to the Knicks, Oakley was ejected from the arena midway through the first quarter of their game against the Los Angeles Clippers after he allegedly yelled at Dolan and refused to stop, an allegation Oakley has repeatedly disowned.

Consequently, Oakley, 53, was charged with three counts of misdemeanor assault and criminal trespassing, a development that prompted current players such as LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Dwyane Wade to hasten to various message boards to offer their support for the ex-NBA All-Star power forward.

Guarding former Chicago Bulls great Michael Jordan in the 1996 Eastern Conference semifinals, Harper spent two seasons in New York from 1994-1996. (Getty Images Photo)

“It’s hard because you don’t have all of the information,” said Harper, 55, when asked to assess the drama involving Oakley and the Knicks. “I’m one that don’t believe in running out talking about something unless I totally understand it. But with that being said, Charles Oakley was the heart and soul of the teams I played on in New York and he will always be respected by the fans in that city.”

Still, Harper, who played 16 seasons with four teams before retiring from the NBA in 1999, contends things could have been handled differently between Oakley and Knicks.

BELOVED KNICK — Harper was quite complementary of Oakley (No. 34), particularly about how he had taken ownership of his role of MSG catastrophe heard around the NBA.
“I love Oak,” Harper said. “We exchanged text messages the next morning. (Getty Images Photo)

“Dolan is the new owner now and he and Oak, for some reason, haven’t seen eye to eye,” Harper said. “He wanted, in that situation, I think for Charles to be removed from his seat and out of the arena and, if I’m Oak, I’d respect that. I’d respect what the owner of that team says and I’ll leave.

“But I think it really got blown out of proportion and escalated into something that was unfortunate for both sides in my opinion.”

All things considered, Harper was complementary of Oakley, particularly about how he had taken ownership of his role in the MSG catastrophe heard around the NBA.

Harper, a former University of Illinois All-American, was drafted by the Mavericks with the 11th overall pick of the 1983 NBA Draft. He returned to play for Dallas during the 1996-97 season. (Getty Images Photo)

“I love Oak,” Harper said. “We exchanged text messages the next morning. Oak is my confidant. That’s my guy and he’s already come out and said he should have dealt with this situation differently, and I think if he had to do it over again, he would choose not to put his hands on people.

“As an adult, I don’t want to be touched by another person, security officer or not. And I think he would admit that part of it was wrong. But it was wrong the way that they handled him as well.”

After Oakley and Dolan reportedly had met in hopes of reaching a resolution amid their fallout, Harper strongly believes it will be a matter of time that his former teammate will return to MSG.

“Absolutely, at some point,” Harper, who registered 16,006 points, 6,577 assists, and 1,957 steals during his NBA career, said. “There’s no question about it. I don’t know when. I don’t think anybody can say when it’s going to be.”

 

Andre Johnson is Founder and Publisher for Making Headline News. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former staff reporter the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.