Fatherhood & Football: Coaching Youth Created a Career Passion - Lab Alumnus

“I wanted to be the best dad in the world.”

For Leroy Hollins, fatherhood is a driving passion. As the founder and director of several non-profit organizations in his native Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Hollins has spent nearly two decades bringing sport education to low-income youth in the community.

”It started with my 5-year-old son, when he said he wanted to play football,” remembers Hollins. “I found a team in our neighborhood and dropped him off. But I thought, ‘I can do more than just watch practice.’ I wanted to be the best dad in the world.” Throughout his son’s adolescence, Hollins volunteered in local youth sporting leagues, coaching not only his son, but many other children in the community.

It was his son who inevitably inspired Hollins to take his youth involvement a step further. “One Christmas, a kid was bragging about a scooter he was getting, and my son told me, ‘That’s a stocking-stuffer for me.’ I got him involved in the low-income program here so that he could realize his life was different from others,” Hollins explains. “I realized I had to be a dad, not just to him, but also to kids in the community. My son is 23 now, and I’m still involved.”

Hollins founded the Louisiana Youth Sports Network (LYSN), the largest youth football network in Louisiana. Now in it’s nineteenth year, the organization partners closely with the NFL, particularly the New Orleans Saints, and emphasizes character building, safety awareness, and coaches education. To foster academic and soft skills off the field in the youth that participate in the program, he also founded a spin-off organization, Louisiana Academy.

“When I started being a great dad to my son, I realized I needed to do that for every kid in our community, especially those who came from a background like me.”

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