September 16, 2014

Elyria
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Clark Kellogg encourages area kids to succeed

ELYRIA — The kids at the Elyria chapter of the Boys and Girls Club of Lorain County had someone they could look up to pay them a visit Thursday.

And they had to look way up.

Clark Kellogg, the 6-foot-8 former St. Joseph-Cleveland and The Ohio State University basketball star who went on to an NBA career before becoming the lead college basketball analyst for CBS, was keynote speaker at “Boys and Girls Club of Lorain County Presents Clark Kellogg: Defining a Champion,” sponsored by Church Street Bar & Grill.

In addition to the kids, about 60 people including basketball fans, friends of Kellogg and the Ohio State Alumni Band of Greater Cleveland attended. Kellogg kept time with the beat during the band’s performance of “Hang On Sloopy.”

Kellogg, 48, didn’t attend a Boys and Girls Club when he was young, he said, instead going to his neighborhood YMCA. But the environments are similar, and he wants children to have what he had.

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“I can still remember feeling excited about going to the Y on Saturday morning,” said Kellogg, who played for the Buckeyes from 1979-82 and returned to Ohio State to earn his degree in 1996. “I’d see my buddies, play basketball and ping-pong and other games, then we’d walk home together and stop for a slice of pizza. That’s heaven on earth to a 10-year-old kid.”

The Boys and Girls Club offers something similar for today’s kids. The facility, a former manufacturing building on Middle Avenue, has been remodeled over the last two years. Two-thirds of the building is now done, including a large room with a basketball court, seating, a stage and table soccer games. Funding for the facility’s learning center, which includes a reading area and computer space, was donated by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

When children show up to play in the gym or on the computer, they first have to complete the Power Hour, which includes studying, being tutored or mentored, and writing a paragraph about their day.

“I like it,” said Andrai Wright, 10, of Elyria, whose father, Thyrin, works at the club. “They check my homework and help me when I need it.”

The kids also enjoyed meeting Kellogg, even though they know him more as the voice on the “NBA 2K9” video game or on college basketball broadcasts than as a basketball player.

“I never met a player before, just saw them on TV,” said Jaiquan Turner, 10, of Elyria.

Video games and television with hundreds of channels are two of the many distractions kids face today, Kellogg said, but kids themselves haven’t changed much from when he was young.

“They still want and need supervision, discipline, influence, teaching and love from adults who care about them and want them to be the best they can be,” he said.

In fact, children today may need that more than ever, Kellogg said. With more single-parent homes and the economy forcing more parents to work longer and harder, places like the Boys and Girls Club have become even more essential. The club offers a safe place for children that gives them the opportunity to connect with others, develop their talents and just have fun.

“There’s no greater investment of resources, time and talent than in the lives of young people,” he said. “Being around adults I knew cared about me, who disciplined and encouraged me, was the foundation for the rest of my life.”

Being a champion isn’t just about accomplishments and trophies, said Kellogg, who never won a championship in high school, college or the NBA. Instead, he knew the heartbreak of coming close, scoring what is still a state-record 51 points in a state final loss to Columbus East.

But what makes a champion, he said, is about striving for excellence in your daily life, making an impact on other people, living with humility, applying your best effort to what you do, accepting constructive criticism as a chance to learn and grow, and solving problems rather than getting mad or getting even.

Contact Melissa Hebert at 329-7129 or mhebert@chroniclet.com.