A Word from Mike Lansing

  Great Futures Start(ed) Here

In 1964 I was introduced to the then San Pedro Boys Club when my older cousin Jerry brought his brother Anthony and I to participate in a pre- Little League program.  Thus began six years of my participating in an organization that became for so many of us boys a “second home” and where we learned life lessons through athletic teamwork, competition and made decades long friends during the process.  In its sports heyday the Club was known for nurturing and developing the athletic skills and prowess of local legends such as Naulls, Amalfitano, Gross, Maddox, Ashby, Lovitto, Lusic, Petrich, Harris and many others.  In reality though, the club did much more than become the springboard for these handful of professional athletes – it helped build the foundation of boys, young men and finally girls who became the doctors, lawyers, educators, elected officials, harbor commissioners, business owners, military leaders, superintendents, police, firefighters, and labor leaders on our waterfront.  Over the past 75 years the Boys & Girls Club has helped nurture and develop tens of thousands of at-risk youth - turning us into the day-to-day backbone and sometimes the leaders of our San Pedro and surrounding communities.

“GREAT FUTURES START HERE” is the national slogan for Boys & Girls Clubs of America and it is so very appropriate.  Coincidentally, in 2012 the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor will be celebrating our 75th Anniversary of serving the children of our San Pedro and now too our Wilmington communities.    Over the next year we will be reliving the history and positive impact this organization has had on thousands of at-risk lives – giving each of us an opportunity for a GREAT FUTURE we otherwise might not have had.  Editor Josh Stecker has been gracious enough to allow me to be a guest columnist during this time so that we can share some of our organization’s history, individual stories and GREAT FUTURES of our past members.

Locating our alumni is our 75th Anniversary Committee’s first order of business.   “Decade Captains” have volunteered to help locate and re-engage some of the tens of thousands of alumni we have amassed over the past three-quarters of a century.  I can’t tell you how important it is for us to welcome back those of us who were so fortunate to come to the Club as youth – I only hope that you will contact me  (mlansing@bgclaharbor.org ) with your information and/or that of the friends you attended the Club with during your childhood.

I will end this column with the first of hopefully many stories to be told.  A 10-year old boy waited for his father to come home so that he could be driven to his Biddy Basketball game at the San Pedro Boys Club.  He waited and waited to no avail once again and finally told his mother that he had to make a run for it in the rain soaked and cold January night.  As he ran he was pummeled by the wind and sheets of rain but knew he could not stop – not even as his eyes darted around frantically searching for the stray dog or worse that he would have to fight off on his journey to what had become his sanctuary.  He ran as fast as his chubby legs would allow and he panicked more than once as the shadows, whipping wind and rain played tricks on his 10 year-old mind and searching eyes.  As he drew nearer to the Club his fear slowly subsided and his anticipation began to soar.  When he finally reached the front doors out of breath and with a tear or more on his cheek - he knew he was safe, he knew he was home.  His coach Mike Karmelich had been waiting and opened the door – at the same time asking the boy if he was all right.  With a huge smile on his face and a sudden calmness in his chest the boy simply said “Now I am coach, now I am” and he stepped inside to the warm embrace and safety of his Boys Club.

That boy was me.  Wishing you and yours a Happy & Healthy 2012!

Mike Lansing

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