Jefferson Award Honoree: Keith Landecker
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Keith Landecker grew up in the inner city of Detroit, and attributes baseball to his success.
Now he's using the same sport to reach young men in the Chattanooga community.
Of all the sounds you hear on a this baseball field, yelling isn't one of them.
"We don't yell and scream, we have a very unique philosophy on how we coach, its all encouraging," says Coach Landecker.
Landecker's mission began 8 years ago, when he realized the city of Chattanooga doesn't offer baseball to boys older than 12.
"We don't turn them back out to the streets because they are 12 and there is no where for them to play," says Landecker.
So he rallied a group of professionals with a love for the game. Together they built a league of their own.
On the field you can hear the players chanting "Who are we? express. What we gonna do? win. What we gonna do? win."
The boys who joined the league years ago are now known as the "Express".
They mentor the younger boys who hope to one day wear a blue jersey.
"If we don't do the right thing, they won't do the right thing, if we fail, then they fail," says 14 year old Sadik Spence.
But this is bigger than the game.
"This is more than just baseball, this is going to teach them how to be professional fathers, professional coaches, mentors," says Landecker.
Being a part of this team is work.
Between practices the boys maintain the field, a fee for using Tyner High school property.
But if Coach Landecker asks it be done, his team comes running.
"He teaches life lessons out here, Coach Keith knows what he's talking about," says 15 year old Aldo Frias.
"He inspires me, if you respect him, he will respect you, he takes good care of you," says Spence.
Landecker and his coaching staff foot the bill for it all.
Keith is a DJ on Power 94 in the afternoons, he works so the boys can play. But his money only goes so far. He's had to turn boys away.
Others are jumping on board. Three thousand dollars was raised to purchase dirt for the field, and equipment.
Police Chief Bobby Dodd is also allowing the league to recruit officers to volunteer.
You can read more about Landecker's mission in Friday's Times Free Press.
You can nominate someone for a Jefferson Award by clicking here.