As a PAL alumnus, Cedrick Jackson looks back at his early Police Athletic League experiences with great fondness and considers them “fun learning experiences.”
But they were much more than that. In fact, Jackson credits PAL with helping to spark his football career. Most of all, Jackson says those early experiences helped him reach his potential as an adult.
“It helped me realize that I actually had the potential to be big in sports,” says Jackson. “It also taught me a valuable life lesson, and that is to never give up.”
Jackson’s advice to young children in the PAL program right now?
“If you have a dream, stick with it!”
While he fondly recalls the football and basketball games and tournaments, the Police Athletic League was more than just fun and games for PAL alumnus Cory McKinney. “PAL taught me the fundamentals of life and some basic life skills as well,” said McKinney.
Those early lessons, such as taking responsibility for his actions, also put McKinney on the right path during his formative years -- a time in which his life could have gone either way. “I could have taken a wrong turn a long time ago. PAL influenced me to go the right way,” he says.
McKinney’s advice to young children in the PAL program right now?
“Just to do the right things,” says McKinney. “It’s easy to do wrong, but in the end nothing good comes out of it. Stay in school and get your education. You can be whatever you want to be.”
As a youth, Willie Smith loved playing football in the Police Athletic League. And he doesn’t mince words when talking about the impact that PAL had on his future direction as an adult.
“PAL helped me straighten up my life. No doubt about it,” says Smith. “It kept me out of trouble.”
PAL also taught him how to become a better person, adds Smith. “PAL means a lot to me because it taught me how to be a man on my own.”
His advice to other PAL kids? “Play sports to stay out of trouble and stay in PAL to do positive things.”
Nick Wallery credits the Police Athletic League staff that worked with him as a youngster with making him a better basketball player. But perhaps the most lasting impact of his time in PAL was the comfort and security he gained by being around people who truly cared about him and were there when he needed it.
“PAL was like family, like a second home for me,” says Wallery.
Wallery says he learned valuable life lessons through PAL, such as how to work cooperatively with others. And he urges the kids currently in the program to do the same.
Michael Gillislee, University of Florida
Tevin Gordon, Bethune-Cookman University
Mora White, Jacksonville University
Kavon Mark Joyce, University of South Florida
Marlin Lane, University of Tennessee
Joe Prince, University of Florida
Corey McKinney, Florida International University
Reggie Odom, University of Louisville
Johnny Patrick, University of Louisville – New Orleans Saints
Nick Wallery, Albany State University
Kentrell Harris, Virginia Union University
Christian Efird, Western New Mexico State University
Kendall Myle, Stillman University
Jakobi Washington, Indiana State University
Fred Mckasill, Bethune Cookman University
Corey King, University of Miami
James Ward, Wake Forest University
RJ Simpson, Eastern Kentucky University
Kasey Smith, Florida International University
Ayla Chavers, Bethune-Cookman University
Ter’Shaudney Phillips, Saint Francis University
Montari Leonard, University of Northern Iowa
Rod Thomas, South Carolina State University
Kenon Akin, Albany State University
Asha Chavers, Bethune-Cookman University
Amanda Adams, Bethune-Cookman University
Yasmin Harris, Florida A&M University
Dontea Smith, East Central State College
Kaela Gibson, Brewton-Parker College, United States Navy
Ariel Jones, United States Navy
Shai Sanders, Howard University
Andra Williams, Howard University
Rod Thomas, University of South Carolina.
Roy Williams, University of Central Florida
Dantwaun O'Neal, Tennessee State University
...and many, many more!