‘For the Kids’ – Jonathan Wallace and the Lakeside Little Warriors

By Josh Beavers

My friend, Paige Nash, wrote a feature story back in the summer about the inaugural Little Warriors football game. That contest, a Warrior win, was the first in the new elementary sports program offered to students in grades 3-6 who attend Central Elementary School and Lakeside Jr./Sr. High School. 

Paige wrote: “Parents, staff and students are all excited about the opportunity to take advantage of this new sports program. Research shows that children who participate in sports at an early age benefit not only physically, but mentally, emotionally and socially as well. Other sports being offered include basketball, baseball and softball.”

Many people are responsible for the success of the Little Warriors. Lakeside coaches and administrators and numerous parents made the program a success. One of those influential people is Jonathan Wallace. 

I contacted Mr. Wallace last week and asked him to tell our readers about the program and its purpose.

“The Little Warriors organization is simply another way to invest in the lives of the children and families in our community,” he said. “We have the opportunity to participate in a organization that links schools to gives children the opportunity to compete against each other across north Louisiana.”

Wallace said the focus is on development and to provide these players the opportunity to grow and develop their physical, emotional and social skills through sports. 

“The Little Warriors provides a community for us parents to help with fundraising, provide effective coaching and support the parents here at Central and Lakeside who want each child to benefit from the opportunity that sports provide,” he said. 

Question: Why did you do this?

His answer: “My wife and I have always tried to impact the communities we live in. Values like love, trust, faith, forgiveness, perseverance all need a platform to grow and develop. Organizations like this can be that platform, so I guess the best answer is why wouldn’t we do it. If the opportunity is there to have that impact, we need to take the chance.”

Wallace, who is a 44 year old occupational therapist, married his high school sweetheart. They have four children ranging in age from 25 to 10. 

Question: Why do you go above and beyond to help our kids when others do the bare minimum?

His answer: “I don’t have too many years on this earth, so I guess I just want to be as impactful as I can while I am here. Honestly, I’m not a very good coach when you look at wins and losses. My teams over the years have at best won half of their games. I just want to impact the players God gives me in positive ways and teach attributes that last a life time not just on the baseball or football field. I think that would be the answer – to help others long after seasons are over and their life keeps on going.”

Question: How is the program doing?

His answer: “I would say very good. We won some games we should not have, we lost some game we should not have but athletically we had a bunch of players in all sports that started out rough and by the end of each sport, we had enormous growth. I think the parents have grown tremendously this year as well. At first there was apprehension in many of the parents. Now we have parents bringing great ideas to the table and taking  initiative in fundraising, coaching and activity planning.”

Question: What is your vision for the future?

His answer: “We are currently playing in the North Louisiana Youth Sports Association. My vision for our community is to expand our options. I would like for us to participate in other events and have our community support us to the point that it would be minimal cost to families. There are so many opportunities for youth in our area if we would just take them. The Little Warriors could be the venue to provide those opportunities. I would like to see the coaches from the high school become the volunteer coaches and give insight to their preferences and start teaching this to the younger players. I want our community to look like a community that would make others take notice. I would like our community to really trust, pour into each other and rely on each other. Ultimately we would love to win state championships as these players age up, but more important than that is to solidify this community.”

At the close of the interview, I gave Mr. Wallace the opportunity to share any other message he would like. He quickly pointed out what I said earlier about there being many people responsible for the success of the program. 

However, he quickly said these people are more responsible than he is. Humble in all things. 

His comments: “I appreciate you taking the time to interview me, but honestly I am just a cog in the wheel, not even the most important one. It started with Coach Roo who had the initiative to reach out and provide the vision for this to start. Coach Mike Santelices was key in providing guidance for football and continues to provide resources. My wife, Tara Wallace has been behind the scenes more than anyone could ever know and has done far more for these players than I have ever done. From organization to fundraising, she has done everything necessary to make sure this ship not only floats but sails smoothly. Denny Finley has been our biggest fan and supporter and has a tremendous vision for our future. Countless hours put in by volunteer coaches have laid the foundation for this to grow and get legs. This thing will continue far longer than I will be a part of it, and that is a testament to the community.”

He asked me to close the story with a quote from his favorite coach, basketball legend John Wooden. 

“Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendships a fine art, drink deeply from good books – especially the Bible – build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day.”

Words to live by. Words that are true for everyone featured in “For the Kids.”

(“For the Kids” is a series of regular feature stories published in the Webster Parish Journal. If you have a recommendation of someone who needs to be recognized for their work with our local school children, please reach out to Josh Beavers either through Facebook or email at joshwbeavers@gmail.com.)

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