MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

June 26, 2013

Going with the heart: Youth coach reaches out to help athletes

There’s long been a special place for kids in Nathan Pierce’s heart, which might actually be the size of a football — if not literally, then in passion.

Shortly after he graduated from Muskogee High in 1982, he found himself helping out in Paul Young Football League and over the years coached. He’s returning to that this year after having served the past three seasons as the league president.

It all comes back to the kids, which is why this summer he’s spent three nights a week at Honor Heights Park, helping kids achieve their potential.

“I’ve always felt we needed more strength and conditioning in our programs and I know you have to start young. It wasn’t in the youth program so I tried it a few times to see if it works, including our (Paul Young) camp last year and we did real good with it,” Pierce said. “So I figured I’d take it up on my own for kids who can’t afford those big camps.

“If they’re willing to come out here, I’m willing to take my free time and see if we can help them get ready for the next level, whatever that is.”

The group varies from day to day. On some days, Shjuan Richardson, who is still hunting for a shot at the professional ranks after going unnoticed in the NFL draft after a stellar career at Emporia State, drops in. The ex-Roughers aren’t just footballers. Ashley Beavers, whose sport was tennis, uses it. And even a non-Rougher, Haskell running back Jordan Presley, has taken part.

Prince McJunkins, the former Wagoner quarterback who expects to start at slot receiver at Northeastern State, rushed out from his part-time job at the local water park to get his work in.

“The stuff I do here, it correlates to the football field with the lateral movements, quickness and agility,” he said. “I’m at the gym at 6 and don’t leave until 8-8:30 and run sprints and long distance runs, but you just can’t come out here and try to make something up. He’s got the equipment and the setup to make it work and it meets my needs.”

The younger kids go through the same drills as the older ones.

“I lift weights sometimes but this is my big workout for the summer,” said Dadrian Wilson, 11, a defensive end, linebacker and offensive lineman for the PYFL Saints. “It helps with my footwork.”

Doing it with college and high school kids has its benefits.

“Those older kids inspire them and motivate them to do better,” Pierce said.

Though Pierce will wrap this up early in July, kids who are interested are more than welcome to join them from 6-7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays.

 He can be reached at (918) 816-0067.

“You’ve heard it said in the summer ‘I’d rather be fishing?’ Well, I’d rather be coaching,” he said.

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