Jefferson Award Honoree: Montrell Besley
(WRCB) - This is where you will find Montrell Besley most of the time, in the Rec Center – and on the front lines – working to change and save the lives of this area's inner city youth.
"I feel like I've been in those shoes, I know exactly what you are going through," Besley says.
"With my son not having a father figure, he took him in, showed him sportsmanship and he takes extra time with him besides sports, works with him academically and other kids that are fatherless," says Takeisha Yancey.
Montrell knows if someone doesn't reach these kids when they're young, the future is bleak. That's why after graduating from college and getting his master's degree, he not only came back to Chattanooga to work, but he also moved back to his old neighborhood.
"We have to get more involved, we can't be scared because we see a kid walking down the street with his pants hanging down, we can't be scared of the kids with dreads," Besley says. "You have to talk to those kids, because a lot of those kids actually have sense."
"It made me feel ok, he has that role model, that male figure he can look at for attention, affection or advice," Yancey says.
The kids he coaches and mentors also have a lot of respect and affection for Montrell.
"He's a perfect teacher and he don't holler at us," says Yancey's son.
"I have my own family, but I tend to cater to those kids who don't have what I can provide for my family," Besley says. "So I try to be that father for them as well."
That means teaching them about a lot more than just sports. And most importantly, as Besley says,"let them know someone cares, there's always someone they can come talk to."
"I can see the changes in his school work, because he knows that me as a mom is pushing him, he has his coach to push his as well," Yancey says.
"When I see them go on, get jobs, go to school, continue their education – Master's degree – that is the most gratifying thing to me," Besley adds.