09/26/12 — Anthony Teachey: Home to coach kids' futures

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Anthony Teachey: Home to coach kids' futures

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 26, 2012 1:46 PM

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Anthony Teachey smiles while Jamesya Wynn, 13, and Teriquea Butler, 13, guard him during a game of basketball at the Goldsboro Boys & Girls Club. Teachey is the new director of the teen center at the club. He helps 14 to 18 teens on a daily basis with their homework and is implementing a physical fitness program. He was a star high school basketball player at Goldsboro High School and played at Wake Forest University before being drafted to play in the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks.

Growing up with seven siblings, the Boys & Girls Club's teen director Anthony Teachey was a self-described "country boy" who worked in the fields.

His family moved from Mount Olive to Goldsboro when he was in fourth grade. Money was tight for his single mom, so college wasn't even on the long list of prospects.

Teachey felt like basketball might be his way out.

Turned out, he was right.

The 1980 graduate of Goldsboro High School was heavily courted before settling on Wake Forest University. His senior year there, he was picked No. 40 overall in the 1984 NBA draft by the Dallas Mavericks.

The power forward was there for half a year before being traded to Seattle and going on to play in Europe for nine years.

His memories and memorabilia of the early '80s is a veritable roster of stars he played against or traveled in the same circles -- Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Valvano, James Worthy, Michael Jordan.

Not every young boy who aspires to be in the NBA gets to live that dream, though.

So in his new role as teen director, he says he won't focus on the glory days as a former ballplayer.

But nor will he avoid the subject.

"Some of the experiences I have seen throughout the world and to come back home and to be able to say, 'I have done it, I was able to see but I was able to learn from things I have seen in places I have been,'" he said. "I think that's the reality of it. Like I tell some, of course you want to play basketball but what's the Plan B? If you go blow your knee out, what's your plan?"

Teachey knows well about having a Plan B. As a student athlete and later a professional one, he learned much about the discipline that comes with having a whole season planned out for you.

"Being drafted, I realized it's not a sport any more. It's a business," he said, recalling the down side -- getting cut by a team, the emotional roller coaster. "Like I tell the kids, you see it on TV, you don't know what goes on to get to that point."

He was among the fortunate, he says, having a supportive mother and a close-knit family to keep him grounded.

He also had coaches and teachers in his corner. One of his former coaches, Dave Odom of Goldsboro, invited him to consider the job in his hometown.

"He felt like it would be a good move," Teachey said. "He liked the direction that the Boys & Girls Club was going -- 'Go down and listen to them.' He thought it would be a good opportunity to come back."

After speaking with the club's executive director, Mary Ann Dudley, Teachey said the timing was right to implement some of the things he had learned while working as a crisis counselor in Charlotte, with autistic youths at a residential facility in Virginia and in an after-school program in Durham.

He spent two weeks "just observing" the local program, he said.

He also studied what was going on in the familiar streets where he grew up, near Isler Street.

"A lot of my boys -- I was raised between two projects. But I made a decision and a lot of them did -- some were in prison -- but I made my own choice. I made my own path, so it can be done," he said.

It's still a tough neighborhood, he said, pointing out the string of shootings and deaths in the city in recent months.

Teachey says the pattern bothers him, and he accepted the job with the intent of coming in and making a positive difference.

"I think to be doing what we need to come together, some of the programs that I have worked with in major cities, I definitely felt like the board of directors would support it," he said. "I think the kids need more, they need to be exposed to more college visits. I want to schedule jail tours, visit colleges, be able to take them out of the community and from Goldsboro, they need to see it firsthand.

"Back when I was coming through Goldsboro, you had teachers and principals and coaches that pushed you, you had that support system. We had social outlets of the gyms being open from 5:30 to 9:30. That's the peak time for crimes to be committed. Now, where do kids have to go?"

In the few short weeks since his arrival, he's already making changes, some more visible than others. A couch heavily wrapped in plastic sits in the middle of his office. A large-screen TV was delivered.

"But it's not just a place to come and play games," he points out. "I want (youths) to mentally focus, because some of them, the window's closing. As far as the teen center, it's up to us to point them in the right direction."

In addition to developing a safe hangout for youth, he also plans to bring in guest speakers, devote a segment of time to focus on homework, and challenge them like he has his own children -- a son attending high school in Durham and a daughter who just started at N.C. State University.

"It's all about building that trust with them, especially the boys," he said. "I have dealt with gang members in Durham, but it's important to build trust. The approach is going to be that, hopefully, they're ready for it and I think they are."

Drawing on a phrase he learned from his mother -- Luevance Teachey, now 87 and living in Baltimore with a daughter -- Teachey said he told the board during the interview process, "Sometimes you have to pave your own dirt road.

"I feel like there's a lot of roads around here need to be paved."