Thursday, December 29, 2016

Coaching Boys Into Men

Coaching Boys into Men (CBIM) Program

Added a new link to our lists under #coachlife to the Coaching Boys into Men (CBIM) program.  Found out about this program listening to the Edge of Sports podcast with author of Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape Jessica Luther. Here's more information about the Coaching Boys into Men program from the Futures Without Violence website:

"Athletic coaches play an extremely influential and unique role in the lives of young men, often serving as a parent or mentor to the boys they coach. Because of these special relationships, coaches are uniquely poised to positively influence how young men think and behave both on, and off, the field.

FUTURES’ Coaching Boys into Men (CBIM) program facilitates these connections by providing high school athletic coaches with the resources they need to promote respectful behavior among their players and help prevent relationship abuse, harassment, and sexual assault. For more than a decade, the program has been implemented in communities across the U.S. and around the world. From Sacramento and Dallas, to India and South Africa, the program’s messages have proven universal.

The CBIM curriculum consists of a series of coach-to-athlete trainings that illustrate ways to model respect and promote healthy relationships. The CBIM card series instructs coaches on how to incorporate themes associated with teamwork, integrity, fair play, and respect into their daily practice and routine.

CBIM first launched in 2001 as a national public service announcement campaign in partnership with the Advertising Council. The television, radio, print, and online ads leveraged over $123 million in donated media and catalyzed grassroots efforts in communities across the country. CBIM has since grown from a broad awareness and action campaign into a comprehensive violence prevention curriculum for coaches and their athletes." SOURCE

What Does it Mean to Be Present?

What Does It Mean to Be Present?
by Rana Diorio Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

"This is the perfect book to start the New Year. It's the absolute cure for all of us (children and adults) who are overwhelmed with anxiety. The message of living in the moment gets lost with everything that is thrown at kids in school etc. Often times we ask kids to set goals when we come back from winter break as part of a New Year's activity. How about a simple goal like - Being Present. I'd love to explore this more with students. It's up to us to model this way of being. Lets get started!" SOURCE

Visit Roxanne's blog Books that Heal Kids:

Our latest featured link is to elementary school counselor Roxanne's blog at The blog is updated with great and purposeful book recommendations for educators and children.  Its where I found out about the title below What Does it Mean to Be Present by Rana Diorio, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler. I've included a quote from Roxanne's thoughts about the book that she shared on her blog. Check it out and also follow her at other social media sites linked from her blog such as Facebook & Twitter.

Highlight Reel The Beginning

From the archive

YouTube: click here

Above is the first documented highlight video of the USA Basketball team to be uploaded to the RBros YouTube page  The video was recorded by Lecroy, Jr. at the San Juan Recreational Center off of North Glenwood in East El Paso.  Being tied up with school and high school b-ball, this is also the first time Isaiah’s had the chance to coach alongside his older brother & head coach, Joshua.

The game was a close one, going back and forth until the Aztecs started pushing ahead in the second half.  USA Basketball didn’t give up though as I recall them bringing the game as close as one basket to retake the lead.  In the video you’ll see highlights from both squads, including a cameo from Lil’ Lucy jumping around in the beginning and crying for her play-doh towards the middle.

Considering how fast time passes, these videos are neat documents for when its time to look back at the great athletes that will be leading our high schools in the game of hoop in a few years.  I realized that following my youngest brother Isaiah when he started playing in 6th grade amongst a few youths who are today some of El Paso’s leading basketball athletes.

From time to time, we’ll have to dig into the archives to share photographs and videos.

This video is also an attempt to get back into the editing process since I’m still working on a few other projects for both of my brothers.  We’ll be sharing those soon.

This video also marks the beginning of E-Man’s channel on the RBros YouTube page

Until the next one, enjoy!  Especially the families who’s children appear in the highlights!


-Lecroy, Jr.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

#PM52s Shoe Designs #e1p

A few years ago, I volunteered as an education coach with a summer basketball camp and came up with an activity for children to create their own shoe designs.  I found an outline of a blank shoe on the internet and had over a dozen designs submitted from children participating at the camp who were between the ages of 5 and 12.

This year we decided to present the activity to our Team USAB athletes who range in age from as young as 7 to 11 years.  So far we’ve received a couple of shoe designs from our team members.  Below is Patrick’s PM52s.  We like the stripe design with number 52 and the black, red, and gray shoelace combination!

Participants are encouraged to be creative.  To imagine if they had their own shoe with the creative control to design their own kicks.  In addition, we’ve added the hashtag #HeretoCreate, inspired by an Adidas campaign.  In the case of this activity we’re connecting it to the creative world of sports and encouraging children to set aside some time to imagine, color, and create.

We have a few other ideas including activities for jersey designs.  If you’re a parent of a child age 7 to 12 years and would like an activity sheet to print out for your child, shoot us an email at  On our website we will feature shoe design submissions, especially those from our athletes at every1plays.

On social media we’re promoting the shoe design idea under the hashtag #e1pKicks!

Thanks Patrick!!

Every1Plays Goes2 #HansILGwan

A delicious restaurant review for one of our favorite places in town! 

From the archive
Every1Plays Goes2 #HansILGwan Restaurant Review 9477 Dyer
#Northeast #ElPaso, #Texas #goes2review

This year my brother’s varsity b-ball team was tasked with raising funds for the upcoming season.  As we’ve never solicited donations before we decided to come up with a plan to approach local businesses that we go to or are connected to in the Northeast side of El Paso.  We ended up with a list of at least 20 different businesses.  Some we approached face to face.  Others we only had time to extend an invitation through email to participate if an email contact was available online.

Our idea was to provide these local businesses with the opportunity to donate what they could in exchange for a note on our website about their business.  Therefore, we only focused on where we do business.  Growing up in the Northeast, local businesses are a big deal.  Especially local restaurants that have been serving our communities for many, many years.  Some our entire childhoods & lives.  We’re connected to these places not because we’re buddies or family, but because of the quality of their service and the fact that we love going there.

On Every1Plays, one of our goals is to promote these local businesses… to write stories about them and share them with whomever is visiting our webpage.  A lot of these places have great stories and histories worth telling.  And perhaps these notes will encourage you all to visit and support what they’re doing in the community.

Although there are also a lot of bad businesses out there, we’re only interested in focusing on the places you should go check out whether its to eat or do business.  Perhaps you will like it, perhaps not, but your responses to these places are welcome… good or bad.

Our first Every1Plays Goes2Review is Han IL Gwan Korean & Chinese Restaurant on 9477 Dyer Street.  We’ve been going there for well over a decade.  It’s our family’s favorite lunch time restaurant.  Growing up our Dad always knew the best Korean restaurants in town and we’d go there often.  My father loves kimchi which is a blend of a lot of vegetables & spices.  I’ve never gotten around to mustering up the courage to try this dish.  My father would bring some home often and when we were at a Korean restaurant its the first thing both him and my mom would start eating.  I just had a hard time getting passed what it smelled like and have never gotten use to it to even attempt to try it.  But I got a rep for being finicky, so don’t take my word for it.  Our family loves this dish and anytime we’re at Han IL Gwan, its at the table.

At Korean restaurants my all time favorite has always been the bulgogi dish.  It’s simple, but has a distinct taste.  It’s a stir fry of tenderized thin strips of beef, fajita-like, but even thinner and tastier.  Often times its mixed with onion or at Han IL Gwan, cabbage.  It’s a favorite of mine and always has been.  It arrives with steamed rice and a drink (teas or soft drinks).  I’ve had bulgogi in different restaurants around town, but no where do they prepare it as good as at Han IL Gwan.  The lunch time bulgogi plate is perfect and complimented with an opening nutritional appetizer of cabbage soup (baechu). The appetizer is one of my favorite appetizers in town and always has been going back to my childhood years visiting Korean restaurants. My father is much more familiar with other dishes on the menu, including kimbap, yaki mandu (which I prefer homeade), and another one of our favorite kalbi.

What I’ve always loved about Korean restaurants is the selection of sides.  All mostly vegetable based that go perfect with any of the dishes you decide to order.  At Han IL Gwan you determine your serving amount of the side dishes which are accessible near the tables, similar to what you find in a buffet.  With the amount of choices, its best to select the amount you will eat as there is no need to over indulge or to be as wasteful as in unhealthy-all-you-can-eat style buffets.  This is not an eat til’ you drop type of restaurant.  At Han IL Gwan, its the healthy quality of the food and the clean welcoming environment that you’re paying for.  My favorite sides include the seaweed salad and a sweet cabbage that is thinly sliced.  It goes perfect with everything else on the table.

Other notes about what I love most, includes the jeon that comes with the meals.  It’s a pancake sort of side dish with a bunch of vegetables.  While at other Chinese restaurants, I’m prone to compliment meals with egg roles, this is the only place in town where you’ll have the chance to enjoy jeon with your main order.  It’s delicious!

Often times my father and mother will have a number of other side dishes in front of them, whether its kimchi or salad.  Everything about eating at Hans IL Gwan leaves you full and refreshed to continue the day if you go for lunch or to close the evening for dinner.  It’s conveniently located off of the Diana exit from the Patriot Freeway, easy to access parking, and a great environment to enjoy with your family, or for a meeting, or even by yourself if you need to take care of some work or school.

I do hope one day to have the opportunity to interview the owner to discuss their history serving the El Paso community and the story of their restaurant.  I hope after reading this review you’ll make plans to visit!  If you’re as finicky or paranoid as I tend to be in unfamiliar places, you can’t go wrong with the foods I’ve mentioned and bolded above. After you’ve had what I have, it will be much easier to try other dishes when you revisit, including their menu of Chinese dishes.  Personally, I love bulgogi too much to try anything else.  This is true even when I visited the Bay Area.  After discovering a Korean restaurant in the Bay, I must’ve ate there at least four times within my three day visit and each day it was for bulgogi.  Nevertheless, I may take up my own advice and try a few other dishes every now and then as my brothers and father have done when we go to Han IL Gwan restaurant.

We want to thank the Han IL Gwan for their support of Andress High School WAB basketball.  When we contacted local businesses in the Northeast they were the first to step up and for that we’re forever grateful.  We’re not very good at raising funds and with as tight as the economy is these days, especially for locally owned business, we’re super grateful & thankful for their contribution to our school.

Again, please visit Han IL Gwan with your family or for yourself or with a co-worker when you’re thinking about eating out.  Or if you’re visiting from out of town, drop in!  Amongst the restaurants considered historic in our community, its important not to forget the Northeast and restaurants like Han IL Gwan, which is also big amongst the military community here in El Paso.

Below is the only picture I could find from my cell phone of the restaurant!  I know I have other pictures buried in an archive of thousands of digital photo files from my cell phone.  Next time I’m there I will take better pictures of the plates, menu, and the space inside.  It’s a wonderful restaurant!


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Featured Link:

Featured Link:
@edutopia #e1plinks #education
#GeorgeLucas Educational Foundation

The latest featured link is dedicated to the start of everyone’s school year.  Many of you are well into the first full month of school.  For example, e1p coach & mentor, Isaiah, is a month into his second year at community college.  The 1st lady of #every1plays, Lil’ Lucy, has been having a great time this month in her first year of pre-K.  And our lil’ guy E-Man is a month into his 5th grade and final year in elementary school.

To represent for the educational experience in all our lives, every1plays latest featured link is  They’re a premier site for educators K-12 & and a resource hub for parents, students, members of the community, and anyone engaged in the art of learning.  Edutopia stays current daily on social media and has one of the best Twitter feeds an educator can ask for.

In addition to featuring Edutopia’s website for #e1plinks, we’ve also added an Education links column to our blog site at Me & My Baby Brothers  Along with a link to edutopia, visitors will find links to other educational resource sites including podcasts that cover all kinds of teaching and learning topic areas.  You’ll also find links to teacher blogs who take the time to exercise their creativity and share their experiences with the world outside of the classroom.  I highly recommend  people looking to teach someday to bookmark the links and tune into the podcasts sometimes when you’re traveling, exercising, or taking care of things where you live.  A lot to be inspired by in 21st century teaching and learning, especially for tomorrow’s educators and students.

Special thanks to edutopia for inspiring this post!

Make sure to also connect with edutopia on social media:

#FlyEaglesFly Philadelphia Eagles #PHI

Photograph posted at the Philadelphia Eagles Facebook

Football is back! A new season, some familiar faces, some new faces, and great times ahead with family and friends.  If there's one thing we appreciate most about our favorite football team is watching Dad go off as the Eagles make their way into the end zone.

#PHI since day one!  

Cause of Dad, its what we know.  

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Summer Fruit #MCZoo

Summer 2016 Fruit

The latest piece from #MCZoo's Art Appreciation course at EPCC.

Citizen of the World, Arthur Ashe

One of our mentorship posts from the archive.

Citizen of the World, A Note on #Mentors
Arthur Ashe & a Langston Hughes Poem

I’m subscribed to receive one DVD from Netflix including the streaming access.  This past summer a DVD arrived about legend Arthur Ashe titled Citizen of the World, directed by Julie Anderson.  The film is a look into the life of a legendary athlete I was aware of, but knew very little about.

One of the details the film revealed was a note about Arthur Ashe’s mentor, Dr. R.W. Johnson.  In a previous Every1Plays post, I talked about one of my mentors.  The film made me think about some of today’s athletes and who they identify as mentors.

I highly recommend the film Citizen of the World.  Ashe lived a life of memorable accomplishments and extreme challenges including his fight to live after having contracted HIV during a heart bypass surgery in the 80s.  This was at a time of ruthless stigma, prejudice, and negativity against those living with HIV and/or advocating on its behalf.  Til’ this day, advocates work tirelessly to educate and raise awareness on issues like stigma that continues to occur across the country and around the world..

Above is a photograph of Arthur Ashe with several others including his mentor.  I included a link to the Arthur Ashe documentary on Amazon below.  If you’re a teacher or coach looking to school your students on Arthur Ashe, the game of tennis, and why this film is titled Citizen of the World, I’d suggest you check it out!

In the film, it included reference to a poem by Langston Hughes I believe is titled “To You”.

To Sit and dream, to sit and read,
To sit and learn about the world outside
Our world of here and now – our problem world-
To dream of vast horizons of the soul
Through dreams made whole, unfettered, free – help me!
All you who are dreamers too, help me make the world anew.
I reach out my dreams to you. 

by Langston Hughes

Citizen of the World / click here

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Team USAB’s Core Values

Team USAB’s Core Values


As the world gets a glimpse of the Golden State Warriors starting core in the Rio 2016 summer games, I want to go back to 2015 after GS secured a historic 16 consecutive wins to open the season. At the time, Head Coach Steve Kerr was out having underwent back surgery, placing the responsibility of the X’s and O’s on assistant coach Luke Walton.  In an NBATV broadcast following GS’s 16th win over the Los Angeles Lakers, Warriors commentator Laurence Scott introduced viewers to a story about the team’s core values.  The broadcast included insight from Coach Walton and the Warrior’s power forward Draymond Green.  It also included a shot of a dry erase board in the Warrior’s lockeroom with the following core values written in the order listed below:


Written in another marker color below the main four was a note that read 5th Man “Togetherness”.

My younger brother Josh got all of us brothers involved in assisting the Team USA basketball club.  He’s been coaching the group for close to five years now.  Like any team, the squad has experienced plenty of ups and downs. Thinking about some of the team’s struggles at the time, I was inspired by what I saw on the Warriors broadcast about their core values.  I thought about how those core values that Coach Kerr instilled as a foundation for the team’s success would translate over to a children’s basketball club.

In the NBATV broadcast Coach Walton mentioned “joy” was the most important of the core values.  He talked about how important it was to have fun, especially since an NBA season is so long.  By the time the Finals ended in 2016, the Warriors played more than 100 games.

After watching the broadcast, I thought about coming up with our own core values that we could share with the children of Team USA. Coach Walton only mentions four core values in the broadcast, but on the dry erase board there was reference to a 5th, “Togetherness”

For our squad we kept “Togetherness” as one of our values that we simply refer to as Together.  We promote ‘Together’ as a value to say that we win and lose as a team, together.

The next core value inspired by the Warriors concept of fun, we changed to Play.  Regardless whether we win or lose, everyone or “every1” must have the opportunity to ‘Play’.  This core value was also inspired by an old Santana song titled ((Let the Children Play)).

Play is followed by the core value of Learning.  Even the greatest of the great will tell you how much they continue to learn and the importance of practice.  So for our squad, we identify each practice and game as a learning experience.  And following the each one teach one philosophy, we also believe that we all have something to teach ourselves and each other.  Therefore, we consider our failures and accomplishments ‘Learning’ experiences.

Our next core value is Work.  While we want to stress the importance of having fun, we also emphasize the importance of respecting hard ‘Work’ as essential to becoming the best we can be.  We emphasize this through our commitment to practice and other responsibilities in our lives that make us whole.  Whether that’s commitment as a student to school and teachers, commitments as a big brother or big sister, commitment to our parents, commitment to church, and our general commitments to help each other excel.

Our final value for our children’s basketball club is Friendship.   I was inspired by Coach Kerr's core value of compassion.  Instead we chose the word 'Friendship' to help our players understand that as teammates they should care about each other.  Beyond the court, our intent is to promote a bully free environment that children can begin to conceptualize through the values of friendship.

At the end of some of our practices we ask children from the Team USA basketball club if they remember the five core values.  At times we’ll also focus on one core value at a time and connect it to something we learn during practice.  For example, if the children are fatigued from running and putting in work during drill stations we’ll discuss the importance of ‘Work’.  If we notice kids getting upset with one another during practice we’ll emphasize values of ‘Friendship’.  If we come off of a big win or loss from a city league game, we’ll talk about what it means to experience those moments ‘Together’.  Or if one of the children is getting better at a particular basketball skill that they want to demonstrate to the team, we highlight these moments as ‘Learning’ moments.

These core values help provide structure and opportunities for coaches, youth athletes, and families to reflect on their involvement with the game of basketball.  Our athletes are still in the beginning stages of their development as adolescents and how they think.  For many, its their first time stepping foot on a court for organized play.  It’s a special time for how they see themselves and imagine their futures in the game of hoop.  It’s a game that can open up a lifetime of healthy activity and that has the potential to compliment academic improvement, community involvement, and even professional opportunity way into their adult years.

If you run a basketball club for youth and have or are planning to develop your own set of core values we’d love to hear from you.

Assistant Coach Lee



Scott, Laurence. “Warriors Core Values.” National Basketball Association, 25 Nov. 2015. Web <>.

How I Became a Champion

A #every1reads post from our world wide web archive at

Shout out to our main man Juan!

Unstoppable from Underdog to Undefeated:
How I Became a Champion

This afternoon I was reading the October 2014 issue of Muscle & Fitness when I flipped the page to the Edge Inspiration section titled ‘Pinning His Hopes’ about D-1 wrestling champion Anthony Robles by Ben Radding.  The page  included a note that said, “Read Up, Robles is the author of Unstoppable: From Underdog to Undefeated“.  The book was published by Gotham last year.  I checked out a couple of interviews on YouTube included below with Anthony Robles promoting the book and sharing his inspiring story.  There’s a lot more to come from Robles including a documentary, talks about a movie on his life, ESPN work, more motivational speaking, and the possibility (if the time is right) to return to the mat for a shot at the 2016 Olympics.  The YouTube videos are linked below.  Check them out!

This begins a category of this website we’ve titled Every1Reads.  As we stumble across books we’d like to recommend or write reviews for, we’ll post them on our website under the category Every1Reads.  This is to encourage athletic programs to promote reading amongst athletes.  Especially with the amount of travel teams have to do… what best than to fill that down time with reading?  As a coach, do you promote recreational reading with athletes?  This question applies to teams of all ages.

A request we’d like to throw out there, especially for school coaches… as athletes put in time to excel in sport activity, make reading activity a part of their program too.  Perhaps some of the book recommendations we post will encourage you to pass the word.  Or maybe it’ll encourage you to purchase copies for your athletes to discuss over the course of the season.  Or maybe you can request these titles for the school library or encourage your athletes to get some time in to visit and support their local libraries and book stores.  There are thousands of sports stories documented in text out there stretching far back in history to the present day, from males and females, of all sports, ages, and circumstances.  You never know, one of those stories may be on your roster working their way towards triumph.


Saturday, July 9, 2016

My Brother & Me

My Brother & Me
'Basketball Tryouts' Episode: click here

Growing up there was nothing  like My Brother & Me and what it represented for kids that grew up as big brothers.  This show had it all.  The music, the basketball, the video games, the diversity, and the family.  For the short time that it lasted it was one of the coolest shows on earth.  Reminds me of a verse from a song... "Back in the days when I was young I'm not a kid anymore but somedays I sit and wish I was a kid again..." -Ahmad


Monday, July 4, 2016

Featured Link:

Featured Link

I was introduced to chess by an old friend many years ago and have either played or thought about the game every single day ever since.  Chess became a target for my camera, a part of my program activities, and a part of my daily energy.  I've played a bunch of games against people, losing many and winning some.  I didn't get introduced to the game formally until well into my twenties.  It's never too late. At every1plays we're always about encouraging the game and playing when we get the chance.  

I found out about Chess at Three from a good friend who works in the early childhood arena and it was great to learn that there is a program out there pushing for chess to be merged in the classroom for the little ones.  When Grandmaster Susan Polgar came to visit the Sun City she stressed the same message which at the time was all new to me.

Check out Chess at Three and if you have children in day care or pre-K/elementary ask their teachers or administrators what they're doing during the school day to engage children in the game of chess. 

Chess At Three is the featured link for #e1plinks for the start of July.  Check out our tweet below which includes a video about the program. If you're on Twitter click on the image below and retweet!

  #Lee aka #EPmijo

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Muhammad Ali & Childhood

Thinking about Muhammad Ali, 
Childhood & the Audacity to Dream
by #Lee aka #EPmijo

I've been a fan of boxing for a majority of my life.  My earliest memories came in the form of a video game from the 80s that Nintendo released called Mike Tyson's Punchout.  I was in the 3rd grade.  I remember the first time I got to play the video game was at my friend Charles' house.  He had just recently moved into the neighborhood but was only there for a short time.  At one point my mom invited, him, his mother and grandmother to stay at our house for a couple of days.  I don't remember why.  I remember one day when my neighborhood friends and I visited his house to see if he could come outside his mom asked us if we were hungry and welcomed us in for some burritos.  As I walked into the two story home, there was barely any furniture.  All I remember seeing was a small TV on the floor with a bunch of wires that connected to a Nintendo.  We all gathered around the TV set with my friend Charles and played Mike Tyson's Punchout.  

My favorite video games were always sport ones like Double Dribble, Tecmo Bowl, Blades of Steel, Bad New Baseball, Track & Field, Excite Bike, and even volleyball games like Super Spike.  I spent as much time as my friends would allow borrowing Mike Tyson's Punchout.  It's the earliest recollection I have of boxing which became my gateway into the real world of boxing as a fan.  

Before this moment I was introduced to the art of fighting through karate.  My Dad trained in Taekwondo since before I was born and had already achieved his black belt.  He brought me along to the dojo where he trained and signed me up when I was about six years old.  I started off as a white belt and ended as a white belt.  My memory of this experience was all bad. I had the most difficult time comprehending what they were teaching me.  The most traumatic moment was when it was my turn to spar.  All I remember was being smothered with kicks and punches to my body guard.  It was my last memory of ever walking inside the dojo again.

Shortly after that, I started watching boxing fights on the USA Network every Tuesday night with my Dad.  I had a virtual boxing bug playing Mike Tyson's Punchout but was in awe of the real and raw talent of fighters who were on the come up... boxers such as Roy Jones, Jr. Oba Carr, Pernell Whitaker, James Toney, Bernard Hopkins, Oscar De Lay Hoya, and others.  I was also introduced to the names of guys that had been in the game for a while like Larry Holmes, Roberto Duran, and Hector Camacho.  Up to this point, the "who's who" of the boxing world was all new to me.  My first passion was basketball, so I spent a majority of my time playing the sport outside and collecting basketball trading cards.  

Of course I knew Mike Tyson was real, but my only exposure to his likeness in 1990 was through a video game character.  When I started to follow real boxers for the first time, Tyson was already entering another turning point in his career outside of the ring.  What I knew about boxing was limited to what I saw on the USA Network and maybe a couple of nights where HBO or Showtime extended a free weekend through our cable provider.  Those nights when the free weekend preview fell on a boxing night made me feel like the luckiest kid in the world.

Boxing became such a big part of how me and my Dad bonded that he signed us up for boxing lessons at the Nations Tobins gym in the early 90s.  It was one of the most memorable moments of my life with my father and the most challenging too.  Especially the cardio, jump rope, hand wrap, and the offense and defensive combinations we exchanged with the trainer.  The trainer's name was John.  The boxing space was as hot as an oven, especially during the summer and made even more humid because of the funk of sweat and body odor.  The boxing room was furthest from the entrance which made it feel furthest from breathable air.  It was a suffocating place to exercise.  It was also an intimidating space to be in especially when Blue trained.  Blue was a real fighter and massive like a bear with dark brown skin. I imagined then that he must've been a super hairy heavy weight. I think he got his nickname from his dark blue eye color.  I could barely tell from the few glances I tried to avoid as he paced back and forth breathing like a hulk.  Similar to my experience with karate, the lessons I got from John were just as complex and difficult for me to understand.  Right away I simply felt like I wasn't built for any sort of fighting.  One memory I recall was when the trainer John asked me to put up my hands and make a fist.  He looked at the slant in my knuckles and told me how weak my hands were and how we'd have to work on that.  I didn't have any desire to fight but I really enjoyed this time with my Dad. It also was a really cool feeling being able to have some sort of real life connection to what boxers do since my fandom continued to increase every time I watched Tuesday Night Fights.  

Since we were visiting the boxing gym on a weekly basis my Dad found out that a well known boxer by the name of Oscar De La Hoya was going to visit the gym to promote his upcoming fight.  The event was free and open to the public.  I couldn't wait to meet De La Hoya who I knew of from a couple of televised fights.  At the time he was just starting to make a name for himself.  The crowd that morning was just a few people as we lined up to meet De La Hoya and get his autograph.  About a year later when he returned as champ, those lines turned into crowds of mostly women.  We got the chance to talk to De La Hoya who signed all kinds of stuff that I brought from magazine cut outs and fliers I picked up at the gym.  My Dad recorded our encounter with De La Hoya on camera.  He asked the soon to be champ if he could show us his lethal hands and make fists.  Thinking back to this memory it reminds me of when the trainer asked me to put up my fists.

Even though I never had the heart or confidence to step foot in a ring, I kept up with my favorite fighters on USA Network.  By the time I got to middle school I became so interested in boxing that I started doing school projects about it.  At the Fort Bliss Mickelsen Library I found out about the "Brown Bomber" Joe Louis and designed a biographical poster that my teacher thought was so good she asked to keep it. Around the same time, I became much more passionate about reading and learning of specific topics related to history, youth, and sports.  I checked out books like Frank Bonham's Durango Street, Walter Dean Myers Scorpions, and an unforgettable boxing story by Robert Lipsyte called The Contender

This month the world is reflecting on the passing of Muhammad Ali. Today I read a piece published in the June 20, 2016 Time Magazine by Robert Lipsyte titled 'ALI, Champion, Outcast, Hero, Legend'.  Before Ali passed I learned about the depth of Lipsyte's relationship to Ali's career listening to the Edge of Sports podcast with Dave Zirin.  Zirin has featured Lipsyte on his podcast a couple of times.  It took me back to when I first fell in love with the "boxing story" reading Lipsyte's The Contender.  While each Ali story I read or listen to today digs further and further into Ali's greatest battles in and outside of the ring, it leaves me wanting to know more about Ali's childhood and his Louisville upbringing.  I think about what Ilysah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X, recently published with illustrator AG Ford of her father's upbringing.  Instead of presenting a larger than life figure as a larger than life figure, Shabazz and Ford introduce young readers to Malcolm as child; a story about children for children; an experience of family triumph and love and the traumatic struggle of loss, setbacks and tragedy.  

Even with as much as I've learned about Ali's life in the past 15 years, there is very little I know about Ali as child, Ali as young Cassius.  What I really liked about the  I Am Ali documentary is how Ali tape recorded his conversations with his children.  To me it reflected something special about Ali's youthful self and his hope to capture those simple moments talking to his children as he continued to age and suffer from a neurological disease.  Searching through the local library catalogue I think there are stories yet to be written and illustrated about Ali's childhood. I imagine these books to display images of Ali in his Louisville home.  Artwork that celebrate his family. Scenes that capture the joy, pain, and sounds of his early Louisville years.  Stories that will matter to a child's imagination and show them who Ali was when he was their age.  I can only imagine the kind of life authors and illustrators can paint in the imaginations of youth showing young Cassius dream and predict that he WILL become world champion.  Telling the story in a way that helps children imagine their own future and the feeling to declare your dreams as Ali did when he raised his clenched fists as a little boy.  To have the audacity to dream of something so great only for that dream to manifest itself into the reality of the entire world forever and ever.  

In remembering Ali, I dream of a more creative way to help the future remember him too.

#Lee aka #EPmijo

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Johnny McCants Signs to NMSU Aggies Basketball

Oñate's McCants to Play College Basketball at New Mexico State
by Mark Rudi Las Cruces Sun News

"The 6-foot-7 McCants led the Knights to a District 3-6A tournament championship his junior season and both the district regular season and tournament championships and the Class 6A state semifinals his senior season. McCants led Oñate to a No. 1 ranking most of this past season.

McCants averaged 19.7 points, 12.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 4.9 blocks and 2.6 steals per game his senior season with three triple-doubles and 22 double-doubles. McCants was a first team Class 6A all-state selection by the New Mexico High School Coaches Association this season and a finalist for New Mexico Gatorade Player of the Year. He was also a second team Class 6A all-state selection his junior season."

Rudi, Mark. "Oñate's McCants to Play College Basketball at New Mexico State." Las Cruces Sun News. USA Today Network, 17 May 2016. Web. <>.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Students Develop Skills Through Chess

Life lessons: Students develop skills through chess
Damien Willis, Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES – Students at Loma Heights Elementary are learning valuable lessons and life skills at the chessboard.

Loma Heights now has one of the largest chess clubs in the Las Cruces Public Schools district. Thirty-two students showed up Friday afternoon to the club’s final meeting of the school year. Many students play every chance they get — on the playground at lunchtime, after school and at home with their parents.

“I started playing chess with the students last year,” said Yvette Colmant, a counselor and social worker at the school. “I found it helpful in connecting with at-risk youth. Many kids saw the chessboard in my office and naturally gravitated toward the game.”

As interest grew, Colmant applied for and received a $3,000 grant from First Move, an organization working to integrate chess into second- and third-grade classrooms. Studies suggest teaching kids to play chess improves science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills, teaches critical and creative thinking, and improves cognitive thinking skills.

“I teach chess to all second- and third-graders, and found the use of chess helpful to both the advanced and struggling learner in promoting psychosocial development,” Colmant said.

This year, close to 200 second- and third-grade students at Loma Heights learned the game through hour-long lessons every other week. Loma Heights students recently won first, second and third place at a chess tournament the club participated in, and interest among the students has been growing exponentially, Colmant said.

“I have been fortunate to enlist the help of local chess teacher Jesse Vick, who has been volunteering his time to work with the kids in learning the art of the game,” she said. “He currently works as one of our lunch monitors and takes a few chessboards out on the recess playground. He has found that it helps with social interaction and good sportsmanship.”

Parents see results

While the chess club only began a few months ago, parents have already begun to notice a change in their students. Vanessa Herrera, the mother of Loma Heights third-grader Michael Hignight, 9, said he has been playing for about five weeks.

“Michael has a short attention span, but learning chess has helped with that,” Herrera said. “He’s able to sit there and play for quite a while, and he’s actually pretty good at it, which is nice. It helps him with his problem solving, and to look ahead and really think about what he’s going to do next. I’ve noticed a huge difference. It’s crazy.”

Herrera said the game has helped with Michael’s memory, too.

“He played a game against a seventh-grader, and the seventh-grader won within six moves,” she said Friday. “Last night, we went to play chess at the church, which they have every Thursday. He beat another kid with the same moves.”

A local chess group meets Thursday afternoons at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Las Cruces, 2000 S. Solano Drive. Vick plays with the group, and several Loma Heights students have begun playing there as well.

Herrera said she bought Michael a chessboard to play at home, and that she has started learning the game and playing with him.

Leah Plaatje is the mother of Zachary Plaatje, 8, a third-grader at Loma Heights. She has also seen a change in her son in the two months he has been playing.

“He has ADHD, so being in chess club has helped him learn how to focus,” Plaatje said. “He’s doing better in classes, and he feels so much better about himself. Because chess is a game, he’s able to focus because he wants to win. Kids with ADHD, their minds just run a little bit faster — so he’s able to process his opponents’ moves way before they do it.”

Plaatje said Zachary has begun playing in United States Chess Federation tournaments, and the family also plays chess with him at home.

“This is one of the best things that we could have done for him, to help him with all of his problems,” Plaatje said. “His grades have gone up. His behavior has improved in class and on the playground. He’s learning how to slow down, and he’s learning impulse control.”

Eight at a time

At Friday’s meeting of the Loma Heights Chess Club, the group was visited by Sophia Moore, 11, a sixth-grader from Camino Real Middle School. Last month, Sophia was crowned New Mexico Girls State Chess Champion, K-12. She is the first girls champion from Las Cruces.

She began playing chess three years ago, while attending Desert Hills Elementary. On Friday, she won more than 20 games against Loma Heights students — playing eight games at a time. No one beat her.

“I like chess because it’s just very interesting,” she said afterward. “You can’t move just based on instinct, you have to think it through.”

Sophia said she is usually thinking two or three moves ahead. She said that playing eight games at once presents a unique set of challenges.

“Your mind just has to be able to shift from one game to the other,” she said. “I like doing that, because I like to multitask.”

This summer, Sophia will represent New Mexico in the national girls Tournament of Champions in Indianapolis. She said she is grateful to her teachers, including at the End Game Chess Club and a group of senior citizens she plays with each week at the Munson Center.

Strategies and sportsmanship

“Chess teaches me to make better decisions,” said Jonathan Carrillo, 11, a fifth-grader at Loma Heights. “It’s like (Stephen Covey’s) Seven Habits. One of them is ‘begin with the end in mind.’ And it teaches you to make a plan before you start. You need to know what you’re going to do before you do it.”

Jonathan said that Vick has taught the club some common chess strategies and the importance of good sportsmanship.

“It’s a huge sense of accomplishment, seeing them grow in their abilities from week to week,” said Vick, who is one of the highest-ranked chess players in Las Cruces. “It’s great to see the excitement on their faces when I take them to tournaments, and seeing how passionate they are about the game.”

Vick said he has seen students develop a greater attention span, respect for authority and improved patience.

“A lot of these kids have disabilities and problems,” Vick said. “I have Tourette’s Syndrome, and chess has helped me so much. And I see these kids who can’t focus on anything else, but when they’re at the board, nothing else bothers them. Nothing else matters.”

As a social worker, Colmant said she has seen chess help students develop better social dynamics and communication skills.

“On Friday, two children who were playing chess in the corner waved their hands and asked for help,” Colmant said. “When I went to their table, one student let me know the other may have been cheating. Their solution was to annotate their moves so there would be no question about cheating. These were two second-graders. They didn't lose their tempers or yell at each other, they solved the problem. That was a clear, real-life example of what chess brings to our school.”

Damien Willis may be reached at 575-541-5468, or @damienwillis on Twitter.

Willis, Damien. "Life Lessons: Students Develop Skills through Chess." Las Cruces Sun News. N.p., 1 May 2016. Web. <>.

Thoughts on #YesWeCode Initiative

In effort to archive Blogpost's from our website, I'll be sharing those posts on our Google Blog as well.  Below is a post from November 30, 2014, titled 'Thoughts on #YesWeCode Initiative by Lecroy Rhyanes, Jr.'

My name is Lecroy Rhyanes, Jr., 1/3 of the family of brothers that contribute to the Ever1Plays site.  The oldest of the three I maintain web updates and lead social media and other digital media including some of the videos created and posted on our YouTube.  I graduated from New Mexico State University in 2008 and in 2011 joined the Criminal Justice Department at NMSU to teach courses online that focused on subjects related to creative expression and juvenile detention.

Most recently, a former student named Bridgette sent me a website through LinkedIn about the #YesWeCode initiative.  On November 29th, I started listening to a few YouTube videos about the group, including a video conversation with founder Van Jones and others involved with #YesWeCode.  This was my first attempt to understand what the group was about.  When I glanced at the site and thought about the #YesWeCode message, it resonated with me because of how I got into college thanks to my high school Spanish teacher, mentors, and family.

At the start of my senior year at Andress High, my Spanish teacher made an announcement about a program she was helping to start up after school.  It involved getting high school juniors and seniors together with college students & faculty from NMSU to work on a research project using computers.  In 1999, I was barely learning how to turn a computer on so I don’t remember being very receptive to the invitation.  I don’t remember anyone else in my class being receptive either.  At the time we didn’t really know anything about computers and the world wide web.  I nor anyone I knew had access to the world wide web at this point.  Technology to us was mostly video games and consoles.  My Spanish teacher wouldn’t give up though and finally convinced me and a handful of others to participate.

After school, our Spanish teacher introduced us to a few students and faculty from NMSU that would help mentor us.  My teacher also explained to our parents that the program would involve us taking a few trips to NMSU from Andress (located in El Paso, Texas) to work with our college mentors at the university’s computer labs.  Our activity was for a competition called the New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge. I think we were the only school outside of New Mexico invited to participate.

My involvement with the group after school caused a few scheduling conflicts with the Varsity basketball team.  I recall asking my coach before a practice if I could be excused to go on one of our trips to NMSU.  Already annoyed by my poor performance on the court, he was irritated that this would free me from practice… In a condescending tone he replied, “What are you trying to be an astronaut?”  Little did I know, joining the Supercomputing group with our Spanish teacher and New Mexico mentors would be the best decision of my life.  By the end of the year, I’d develop the stamina to appreciate the writing & research process and was learning how to use a computer.  It was also an opportunity to build with people that were in college and willing to help us understand how to get there.  For many of us, including myself, we’d be the first in our families to attend a four year university, so our knowledge of the college experience was about as bleak as our knowledge of computers.  Upon graduation I not only received a scholarship to attend NMSU through my participation in the supercomputing challenge, but I was even offered a job by my mentor to intern at the the Los Alamos National Laboratory during the summers.  My internship would focus on web design, learning HTML code, and understanding different computer applications.  At the time I wasn’t confident about the decision to take the internship since I didn’t even own a computer.  I wasn’t sure if I had what it took to contribute and I also didn’t want to disappoint anyone by my moving up there. My mentor convinced me to think about it as a learning opportunity and a chance to be on my own since I’d have to relocate and live in New Mexico independently.  Long story short, I decided to go thanks to my parent’s who fully supported my decision to make the move. That summer, I was supplied with this huge book about HTML coding.  This began a lifelong passion for teaching using digital technology and utilizing web design to promote the activities we got going on in our lives.

Since then, I’ve applied digital technology to just about every aspect of my educational & professional career, including the work we’re starting as a family with the Every1Plays initiative.  I’m excited to learn more about #YesWeCode and the conversations taking place locally regarding digital learning and what opportunities are available, especially for young people.

To learn more about the #YesWeCode initiative, I encourage you to visit the website at and also check out the video below.  Listening to the conversation Van Jones, founder of #YesWeCode had on YouTube, I’m going to assume that for some young people it may be tough understanding where to begin and why.  Especially for those in the digital divide that may not be aware of the benefits digital technology brings to a person’s future goals and creative network.  This is especially true for youth in the juvenile justice system and other communities throughout our region that are disconnected from technology due to their location, poverty level, or the disinterest/disassociation from their schools, community, detention centers, homes, etc.

Below is a photograph and link to a report that I was featured in with my mentor over 14 years ago.  In a lot of ways, this was the #YesWeCode before the millennium era for me and my school.

My Dad's Mentor, Donald Martin

#MentorStory: My Dad’s Mentor, Donald Martin
@MENTORnational #MentorIRL

In 2013, I had a convo with my dad about mentors in his life. Around that time I started documenting family stories.  I’d sit down with my mother and father and have conversations about specific moments in their lives.  Some of their stories focused on specific siblings, childhood memories, grandparents, or stories my mom or dad shared after observing an old photograph.  As my mom and dad shared their stories I pressed record on my audio device, asked questions, and typed notes in my laptop.

This activity kind of started because of old family photographs. At one point, our family photos were scattered everywhere.  Some were in old worn out photo books, photo envelopes, tucked away in boxes, or in the shed.  Over the years it seemed like my dad was always finding another stack of old photographs that were thought to be lost.  I decided to organize all of the photographs in one place.  I created labels for the photographs and organized them by immediate family members, members of my mother’s family, father’s family side, and others based on location. For example, I have a collection of photographs from our time in Germany in the 80s.  Other stacks are of my mother’s many brothers and sisters.  Other collections are sorted by extended family members and different branches of our family tree.  One of the oldest photos I have was given to me by my aunt Maggie who found what is believed to be a photo of my great grandmother on my mother’s side.  It is the earliest known photo I have of my grandmother as a child and her mother who passed away at a very young age.  I think the picture is close to 100 years old.  My goal is to organize the photographs into albums and scan some of them to combine with the thousands of digital pictures I’ve collected ever since I started shooting photos ten years ago of my family and friends.

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down to document family stories but I think about the process all of the time.  I hope to return to it on a more consistent basis.  Recently, for reasons related to what’s going on in my own life and some messages I exchanged with one of my mentors, I’ve often thought of my father’s story about his mentor, Donald Martin.  When I revisited the notes I jotted down of my dad’s story which I titled “Donald Martin”, I remembered my dad asking me if I could help him find his mentor.

Through the Every1Plays FaceBook account we have, I tried to search for “Donald Martin” by typing in Pennsylvania towns my dad mentioned in his story.  It’s a common name and there are quite a few Donald Martins out there.  I didn’t have much luck when I searched for specific locations in the Tri-state area.  After looking through a few profiles, I noticed a comment in one of the profiles that mentioned the name of Mr. Martin’s wife which my dad shared in his story.  Looking through some of the pictures in the Donald Martin profile I found a newspaper clipping titled “Philadelphians in ‘Bennington Program'”.  I maximized the size of the article to get a better view of the faces in the picture and noticed my dad sitting on top of a school bus with more than a dozen other students.  The article was published in 1972.  A couple other photographs posted in Donald Martin’s profile included a Vermont camping trip with a clearer view of all of the students.  Immediately, I noticed my father in both of the pictures, including a shot of their class trip to Washington, DC.  Mr. Martin was responsible for one of the first alternate high school programs in Pennsylvania.

For my father, he describes Mr. Martin as someone who literally saved his life.  My father had dropped out of high school and after a few months was encouraged by Mr. Martin to join the Bennington Program and get his life back on track.

I look forward to sharing this note with Mr. Martin.  Maybe I could explore this mentor story further to learn more about the Bennington Program and how it impacted Philly’s youth at the time. Looking back, it sent my dad on a journey of success as a soldier, leader, educator, community member, husband, father, grandfather, and friend to many.  Thinking about it, it makes me wonder how the creative and positive encounter my dad had with Donald Martin inspired what my father envisioned for me and my younger brothers. While I’ve heard many reference their parents as their mentors, my dad encouraged and supported the involvement of people outside of our family that we could trust and that had our best interest at heart when it came to our future.

I’m inspired by Mr. Martin’s story through the memories of my father and the creative ways Mr. Martin was able to connect with disconnected youth from Philly and surrounding areas.

There are many mentor stories out there we plan to post.  One day I hope to share my own and talk to my brothers about theirs, and also continue listening to my mom’s stories about the mentors or “donas” that opened their doors to her when she was young and on her own in the U.S. for the first time.

I also plan to post stories from others, including some of our sports and music heroes whose mentor stories are just as powerful.  Stories like Louis Armstrong’s mentor King Oliver or Arthur Ashe’s mentor Dr. Walter Johnson.  Every day, a documentary film, interview, or news article sheds light on some of the inspirations behind some of the most influential people of today and yesterday’s time.  There is a lot more we can learn from these stories to understand just how unique each mentor story is from the other.

Thank you Donald Martin for inspiring our dad before we knew him as such.

-Lecroy, Jr.

Friday, March 11, 2016

When the Beat Was Born Interview

When the Beat Was Born Interview
by Lecroy 'Lee' Rhyanes
Download (PDF): click here
If unable to access via link please email

This year's Texas Bluebonnet Award (TBA) winner is author Laban Carrick Hill and illustrator Theodore Taylor III for their children's book When the Beat Was Born, DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop.  The TBA selection committee gathers recommendations from librarians, teachers, parents, students, and other interested persons all over the state of Texas.  The voting is done by students in grades 3rd to 6th.  For the 2016 contest 152,360 Texas students voted from a list of twenty books.  When the Beat Was Born, DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop received 15,146 votes.

In 2015 I completed an interview we posted to our website with the Hill and Taylor which you can read by downloading the PDF link above.  Below I've included links to videos announcing the award from TBA and other interviews.

For more information on the Texas Bluebonnet Award visit:

The following announcement features Marcy Sparks, Socorro Independent School District Library Services Coordinator from El Paso and other school faculty announcing When the Beat Was Born along with a clip from Hill and Taylor: Texas Bluebonnet Award Video Announcement

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Featured Link: Edge of Sports


Added a new set of links on the right side of the blog specifically for radio broadcast podcast links that you can check out and tune into.  Link of the week we have the Edge of Sports podcast which you can check out at Dave Zirin bringing together the power and truth of social justice and sports... don't miss a program!