For the Love of Sport
By Adam Sikora
Sport has been a strong positive influence throughout my life. While envisioning the next chapter, I knew that it had to be a core part of the foundation. I’d like to briefly describe why it is so instrumental at Athleticademy.
I grew up in an East Tennessee home with 3 sisters. My sporty father tried to influence me early and often with athletics. I joined multiple organized sports: t-ball/baseball, soccer, basketball, tennis, and football. When I wasn’t one of the better players (soccer) and wanted to quit, my dad took the opportunity to teach me important life-lessons about persistence and patience.
I learned to appreciate training in alternatives like distance-running and even racquetball. My skills were beginning to broaden when my family got into a terrible car accident. I would have lasting impacts to my right leg and arm that would limit my athletic participation. Even though highly-competitive levels were no longer future possibility, I wanted to continue my involvement in sports and take part in the great benefits it provides to everyone.
I began working as a multi-sports official with the local parks and recreation department as well as with the Boys and Girls Club. I also helped my father coach Little League Baseball. When I went off to college at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, I participated in multiple intramurals and even resurrected the official racquetball club and team. I was in the sports management building when I watched the events of September 11th, 2001, and I decided that I needed to serve my country. I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force the very next day.
A Salute to Sport
While in the military, I volunteered to help coach youth soccer, basketball, and football while also playing basketball, volleyball, softball and racquetball (base champs!). The rich diversity and competitiveness in the military allowed me to appreciate many more sports like hockey, lacrosse, and cricket. Throughout my service there were many impactful life changes including meeting and starting a family with my lovely wife, Megan, and the sudden passing of my father. He had a big influence on my life choices and path of success.
During his eulogy I recalled a story he used to tell his Little League team parents. When I first started Little League, he would loudly instruct me behind the fence before and during every at-bat and fielding position. On the ride home one day, I told him that it was distracting and that I’d probably do better if I could learn on my own. He immediately honored my request and focused more of his game-time energy on support with instruction in other appropriate times. My enjoyment and success in sports definitely benefited. He later admitted that my words made him reflect on how many voices young athletes, and kids in-general, have around them that accumulate pressure. I believe that certain people may thrive in a high-pressure environment, but nurturing care and support are overwhelmingly critical for positive child development.
Onward and Upward
A different family tragedy forced us to separate early from the military and move from Nevada back to East Tennessee. I taught high school mathematics for a year in Bristol with the idea of growing into an Athletic Director position. In my mind this would be the perfect combination of my coaching and scientific experience, but teaching public schools proved to be too challenging at the time. We decided to relocate closer to my wife’s family in New England with a longer stay in the Washington, D.C. , area and then back to East Tennessee.
We are now completely rooted in Knoxville, TN, and have 3 young daughters that are very interested in sports. The idea of Athleticademy came to me while completing the Professional MBA Program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. It brings together all the aspects of my winding career, life experience, and passions. Family, sports, and youth development are very important to me.
Athleticademy will provide a solution for working families, bridge the developmental gap in youth sports, and give kids confidence and lasting benefits! Too many kids get discouraged and quit for many reasons, including too much pressure like my dad did to me. Athleticademy provides kids with a safe place to fail, learn, and grow. Let’s make sports FUN again!