Take a look inside our organization to see how leadership, academics, and athletics shapes the lives of our young people who participate and the lives of those touched by these student leaders on a daily basis. Leadership is now! Our future is now! It's time you begin #Running with us!
John Paul Sellars is a native of Mullins, SC and played under Coach Mark Gerald throughout high school. He currently resides in Lexington, SC and is a multi-level project based learning teacher at Red Bank Elementary School. Sellars was inspired to start Make Your Mark in order to honor the impact Coach Gerald had in his life. Sellars says, "He taught me what it means to win a championship, not just at Carolina Coliseum, but in life. I want to take that example and instill it in the lives of as many young people as our organization is allowed the opportunity to reach!"
For 54 years, Coach Mark Gerald devoted his life to passionately teaching leadership to the youth of Marion County and beyond through the game of basketball. Our foundation honors his memory by "Developing global citizens through leadership, academics, and athletics." Coach was noted for utilizing athletics as a vehicle to greater things in life. A former college coach of his first Division 1 player to play in college said, "He called me one day and asked me how he [the player] was doing, but he didn't mean how many points had he scored in a game or how many minutes he'd been playing. He only wanted to know, was he going to class and was he making good grades." Basketball meant more than just wins and losses, it meant working towards having more opportunities in life!
Coach Gerald once read a book by Christopher MacDougall called, "Born to Run." In the book, MacDougall says, "Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you'd better be running." Coach Gerald used this quote as a way to encourage those around him and understand that every day you get a chance to step one foot out of bed, it is a great day. For 6 years, Coach Gerald fought stage 5 colon cancer. When he was told by the doctors he had 3-5 years to live, Coach Gerald overcame those odds by living 6. #Running simply means giving everything you have by using every ability you have by every means you have.
Make Your Mark is not just an organizational name, it's a way of life! We challenge our student leaders, to "make their mark" at home, school, in their local community, across the state, nation, and throughout the world as illustrated in the picture above. The picture illustrates our student leaders partnering with the Walmart of Lexington to collect nonperishable items for hurricane relief victims throughout the Midlands.
Make Your Mark partners with volunteers and local corporations, instilling in our student leaders the importance of a strong academic standing in school. Since the inception of Make Your Mark, Michelin has been a proud supporter and sent between 6 and 8 academic mentors to offer academic assistance for our student leaders in the areas of math and language arts that range from remediation to enrichment.
Just as Coach Gerald modeled for his players, Make Your Mark utilizes athletics (specifically basketball) as a vehicle to teach life skills. Our student athletes who participate are challenged to do their best at whatever skill we may be working on within the day, but even more so expected to focus on the soft leadership skills that go along with being a part of a team.