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How Sports Can Teach Life Lessons To Troubled Teens

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Henry Thomas, a 2017 Double-Goal Coach® Award Winner, coaches basketball, football, and track and field for the Gainesville State School juvenile correctional facility of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. Working with incarcerated youth, one of the most important life lessons Thomas emphasizes is “to never give up, even if you are outmatched,” he said. “It’s not about wins and losses. It’s about camaraderie and teamwork, because once they get out of here, they’ll have to know how to work with other people.

At Gainesville, Thomas explicitly uses sports to help kids not just with being incarcerated, but also to prepare kids for life after imprisonment. Thomas often advises his athletes that the struggle they go through in sports and the lessons they learn from that experience (structure, discipline, teamwork, etc.) are the most important thing for his players when they get out of incarceration and back into the real world, because when they get out, they'll need a job and will need to get along with others in ways they didn't prior to imprisonment.