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It’s more than just athletics

The Carolina Zoom is the AAU program under SLA.

It’s more than just athletics
February 07
09:14 2020

Darnell Wallace is an assistant coach with the Piedmont International University ladies basketball team, but his passion is helping kids achieve their ultimate goals in athletics and academics.

Wallace, owner/operator of Sports Leadership Academy (SLA), is a Philadelphia, Pa. native, but has made his home in the Winston area since 1991 and graduated from Parkland High School. SLA is a program that was created five years ago and caters to children in a variety of ways. Their focus has been on the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) basketball program, but there are plans to branch out to other sports in the near future.

“Sports Leadership Academy has an AAU basketball program called the Carolina Zoom,” said Wallace. “We do various camps and clinics and we are looking to broaden the scope by adding football, baseball, soccer and tennis.

“The basketball program has been a hit so far, because that’s what we started with and it has been growing consistently. We started out with 13 kids and the next year it jumped to 52, to now potentially having 150 kids this year.”

SLA partners with other nonprofit organizations such as Dreamers, to assist students academically. Wallace says the goal is to build the kids on and off the court to make them more attractive to colleges.

“We bring in the kids and build academic profiles, along with athletic profiles, and try to shop them out to different colleges,” he said. “We are just trying to get the kids different opportunities, because we care about the kid’s futures and to let them know it’s not all about basketball.

“We work with special needs individuals from Monarch and an annual basketball game with them. I like to teach the kids to give back now and not wait until they grow up to become successful.”

Wallace feels his program is unlike any other in the area. He feels with the athletics, academic components and parental involvement, their program fully invests in the kids. He credits a lot of their success to the quality coaches he has on his staff.

SLA has been able to build their brand very quickly over the past couple of years. Wallace attributes that to the fact he has coached on several teams in different sports.

“Just getting out and coaching and constantly building these relationships out here in the community has allowed us to be able to grow at a rapid pace,” he continued. “It shocked me that we have grown at the pace we have, because we never put much out on social media or advertised.”

The program serves kids ages 5-17. Over the last few years, their teams have won countless tournaments and even have performed well on a national stage. Wallace wants to continue to build on a solid foundation that has been built thus far.

“I win by their success,” he said. “My goal is to win, but not necessarily to win hardware, but instead for the kids to have success and to build something that hasn’t been created in a long time around here. My success is driven through their success.”

Wallace doesn’t want to keep his program local. His dream is to take it national to help serve athletes across the nation. 

For more information about Sports Leadership Academy, call 336-602-8666, email dwallace626@nullgmail.com, or visit Sports Leadership Academy Inc. on Facebook.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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