By Todd Black
With the Winter Olympics just finishing up, it amazes me just how good of an athlete you need to be to qualify for the Olympics. How about just to win a gold medal? Then, you think of a guy like Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian ever, winning 28 medals total including 8 gold in the 2008 Beijing Games. What makes a guy like that different? For one, Phelps went 5-6 years without ever missing a workout. Why? He knew everyone else took off on Sundays. He also knew for each day he/they missed training; it took two to get him back on schedule. He simply was driven to be the best ever which was reenforced by Phelp’s work ethic and dedication.
These types of dreams start early, but how early? When does “I want to be the greatest ever!” become more than just words? I want to take this opportunity to introduce you to Coach Jason Blackburn, the founder of the Blackburn Express Camp located in the Prairieville/Gonzales area. Coach Jason offers camps for boys and girls, ages 5-17 in all sports. As with most, Coach Jason loves to win; but what makes Coach Jason different is he believes ‘in order to win, you must put in the work.’ That work applies not only to the athletic environment, but at home and in school as well.
The idea and background of Blackburn Express was generated by Coach Jason’s dad, Joshua Levie Blackburn III or Coach Josh as the neighborhood referred to him. Growing up in the 9th Ward in New Orleans, Coach Josh ‘got it,’ his goal was wanting to show Jason and his friends there was more ‘out there’ than just New Orleans.
Unfortunately, Coach Josh Blackburn passed away 8 years ago, and Jason knew right away the perfect way to continue his father’s legacy, and this was the beginning of Blackburn Express. The purpose of Blackburn Express is the same as Coach Josh’s – helping kids learn about life, helping kids learn to put forth the effort in the classroom that you put forth with Blackburn Express; and help kids understand success comes at a price, a price that others aren’t willing to pay.
(BE) – Disciplined
(BE) – Physical
(BE) – Great
(BE) – You
Blackburn Express is the ‘parent organization’ that oversees Blackburn Express Camp (Begins March 14), Blackburn Express Football and Blackburn Express Track Club. For more information on any of the three, go to www.Blackburnexpress.com.
BLACKBURN EXPRESS CAMP/BLACKBURN EXPRESS FOOTBALL
As a parent, I have always judged camps based off the first :30 seconds my son gets in the car, I ask him, “What did you learn today?” If his response is “The bubble gum snowballs are awesome Dad” I am going to feel as if I am sending my son to a babysitting service. However, if he responds, “(anything fundamental)” I would be excited about the progress. Blackburn Express is a great avenue to start building your athletes confidence. The other component of Blackburn Express is they award Academic Medals. Coach Jason is a firm believer that athletics and academics go together well, but academics must come first.
Blackburn Express is a community-based youth sports training program for all genders between the ages of 5-17. If you have a child who plays a sport or sports and they want to learn how to compete at a high level, the Blackburn Express Camp is where to go. If you have a child who has never played a sport and they want to learn how but too afraid of what others may think, check out Blackburnexpress.com or look up Blackburn Express Camp on Facebook. Blackburn Express Camp leads into Blackburn Express Football. Last year, these two teams finished 7th in their respected age groups.
Blackburn Express fills a void in this area (Ascension Parish) when it comes to the lack of structure/commitment for middle school athletic programs. They are a lot of dynamics that create this void, but none are because of administrators neglect or intent, its just the way it is. The main struggle for middle school is a lack of coaches which trickles down from there at the cost of leaving most 6th and 7th graders behind until their 8th grade year. If this parish wants to compete in high school with teams across the state, you cannot afford for 6th/7th graders ‘to hang out’ for two years. Blackburn Express is a great option for those student-athletes as well.
Blackburn Express combines the hard work of being physically prepared along with the mental toughness of a champion which allows your son or daughter to be ready for the next athletic challenge they face. Youth sports are failing our young athletes; the coaches are more focused on the thrill of victory and not a young athlete’s ‘agony of defeat.’ If we as youth coaches, focus on the fundamentals, winning will come as a byproduct of those fundamentals. Trust yourself and the process you’re teaching. Blackburn Express believes in their process of preparedness.
BLACKBURN EXPRESS TRACK CLUB
This past summer, the following athletes ran summer track with BlackburnExpress Track Club under Coach Jason, Coach Kentrell and Coach Eric. Below you will find pictures of members of Blackburn Express Track.
Below are just a few members of the Blackburn Express Track Club who finished ranked #1 in Louisiana and Mississippi in their events as well as Top 20 in the nation.
BLACKBURN EXPRESS RECOGNITION BANQUET
After each season, Coach Jason, Coach Kentrell and Coach Eric make sure the athlete’s know how much their hard work is appreciated. Not only by the awards, but when these young athletes see college and pro players given ‘Congrats!’ to the Blackburn Express, it makes an impact.
This past season, Coach Blackburn had a special guest as their speaker for their football awards banquet, New York Giants Running Back Coach, Burkie Burns (pictured to the left). Via video message, Coach Burn’s #1 message for the Blackburn Express Campers was, “No matter the situation, never get discouraged.” Very simple message yet sometimes very hard to accomplish, even for adults.
Coach Jason, Coach Kentrell and Coach Eric cannot thank guys like Cameron Ware, Andrew Brown, Andre Anthony, Reuban Randal and Dre’ Kirkpatrick enough for contributing their support to Blackburn Express.
Partners of Blackburn Express are:
Jason Blackburn (Founder), Kentrell McCoy (President), Eric Williams (President)