Trenton has a long history of creating athletes who succeed in national and international competitions, from Athing Mu’s gold-winning races in last summer’s Olympics to former NFL Player Randall Hunt. Trenton has seen the best of the best rise through the ranks.
For Chester Jones, Founder and CEO of the Trenton Makes Athletics Center, they are not the outliers, but the start of a long list of athletes from the city who can succeed in professional sports.
The Trenton Makes Athletic Center LLC was set up in 2019 with the goal of giving children in Trenton a place to practice and play sports. Jones hoped to build an athletics center in the city to start that process, but things got put on hold during the pandemic. That didn’t stop him from helping the community.
“We’ve been doing a lot of COVID-19 related things, such as partnering with the city to give out masks. We created…COVID-19 care pouches during the summer for the kids,” Jones said.
Now, TMA is looking to claim its name by hosting a sports training day. In two weeks, on April 2nd, at the Capital City Sports Complex on Calhoun Street, Trenton youth, ages six to 16, will participate in a day-long event where they can practice their soccer, flag football or basketball skills.
“We are fortunate enough to know several former professional athletes that have teamed up with the TMA Center to help us with our sports mentorship initiatives,” Jones said. Kids will be taught by former NFL Player Randall Hunt, Former Pro Soccer Player Sammy Manages, and TUFF Founder and Executive Director Vincent Bridgett.
Sammy Manages, is an international professional soccer player. Originally from South Africa, he has played Soccer in the United States since he was 14, and has continued his career during college and afterwards. Manages is in charge of putting together the schedule for the soccer players who show up.
“By the end of the day, we hope to leave an imprint in the kid’s mind or give them an experience that soccer is an option, just like basketball…You can go to school to a soccer scholarship. And you can also change your family’s future if you happen to be good at it because soccer is the second-highest sport in the world,” Manages said.
Jones hopes that this kind of hands-on mentorship will help kids succeed and thrive in middle school through college and onward.
“When these kids get mentorships from people that have been at the top level of the sport, it’s a little bit different from anyone else, right…If I’m a former professional and I say, you know what, I like the way you throw that football, but let me change this. The impact is different, right?” Jones said.
All participants will receive lunch, water and healthy snacks. Parents are welcome to join and watch their kids learn; any spectators are also welcome.
On top of that, The Trenton Makes Athletic Center will also be hosting the popular Dancersize Game of Bingo for Trenton seniors and older adults.
After the event, the goal is to pitch investors and to city officials to help continue to train Trenton’s youth to be the next sport champions and professionals during the summer months of 2022.
To find out more and register for this event head over to https://www.tmacenter.org.