COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Chattahoochee Valley will soon announce their Youth of the Year Winner. It’s the highest honor awarded to Boys and Girls Clubs members.
This year, eight finalists are hoping to win the coveted title and News Leader 9 is introducing you to the impressive young women and men.
Our first finalist is Jacobi Sims, a Shaw High School senior, who shares his message to student athletes about the importance of making the grade.
“I just wasn’t focused on the right thing, not my education - just come here and play basketball,” says Sims.
That’s how the 17-year old describes his life a few years back. He still loves playing basketball, but during his 9th and 10th grade years at Hardaway High School, he learned a valuable lesson - there’s a lot more to life and school than athletics.
“When you get to high school, you’re trying to fit in,and see what’s best and you get the jitters and you’re a freshman and you never seen this before. I just let myself get away from the main goal,” Sims says.
He says he was so focused on basketball, he neglected his studies and before he knew it his grades were dropping and he found himself in summer school.
“That was my first time ever going to summer school,” says Sims. “It was a real wake up call.”
Sims passed summer school and transferred to Shaw High School. With hard work, focus, and help from those who care - like his mentors at the Boys and Girls Clubs. Sims was able to make the basketball team and get his grades back on track.
“The Boys and Girls Clubs took me on a trip to Savannah State and my goal became clear then - to play basketball and take education serious,” Sims says.
“Basketball was his distraction and his grades started failing, so we were doing everything that we could to figure out what was going on with him,” says Robin Reed, teen director at the Boys and Girls Club. But she says Sims turned it around and realized you can’t play basketball if you’re not making the grade.
“Everybody is not going to the NBA, and if you’re deciding to go to NBA or the NFL, grades comes first and he can tell them first hand,” says Reed.
Now Sims not only plays basketball at the Boys and Girls Club where he’s been coming since he was six years old, he also teaches younger kids how to play. As a member of the Keystone Club, he’s a mentor and leader. He’s hoping to take that a step further by becoming Youth of the Year.
“It gives you opportunities,” Sims says. “I feel like it would be a great opportunity for what I’ve been through.”
Sims currently attends the North Columbus Boys and Girls Club and hopes to attend Columbus Technical College and one day become a journalist.
The Youth of the Year award will be given out at a ceremony Thursday, Feb. 7.