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George Booker

George Booker

Chemical Dependency Counselor and Volunteer Coach

Born: Minneapolis, MN, United States
Heritage: African American

If you don’t do homework, you shouldn’t be at the park. Stay in school and listen to the park staff.

George Booker

Chemical Dependency Counselor and Volunteer Coach

My name is George Booker. I was born December 21, 1955. I grew up in this area. As a kid I really didn’t get attention at home. There were a lot of bad things going on in my house. For me to remove myself from the house, I played football and baseball in Powderhorn Park.

It touches my heart having you guys sit here listening to me. My self-esteem wasn’t high back when I was your age. Once I put equipment on though, I was like Superman. I was another person. I liked that person. I was a shy kid. I played football so I could vent my frustrations out on the field instead of on the block. It helped mold the person I am today.

I went to college at Augsburg College and got a degree in Chemical Dependency Counseling. While doing that I got a job at the park. I knew the guy who was coaching. The next thing I know, I come down here to volunteer and now it’s been eight or nine years coaching. I love working with kids.

I look at the guy who mentored me along when I was a youngster and this is a way for me to give back. Folks ask me do I get I paid to coach. I say, “No, but the reward is seeing youngsters from the start of the season accomplish something great for themselves at the end of the season.” I tell the children, “If you can succeed here in the park, you can succeed outside of the park.”

Volunteering is a commitment. I volunteer five days a week and we practice from two to seven each day. That’s 30 hours a week! If I could would volunteer in all the parks. I coach football, basketball and baseball.

I want kids to have fun. I want them to Learn. When they learn, I learn. The one thing they help me with is my patience.

Sometimes kids’ parents don’t show up, so I’m the one to give encouraging words. The coach becomes their surrogate father.

I’ve sat with parents and talked about other problems their kids were having. One kid was in a gang and playing football. I asked him, “Do you want to be in a gang or play football? What good are you going to get out of the gang compared to the good you are going to get out of football?” I give them a choice.

I am at the point where age is not a factor to me. As long as I can continue to coach and play basketball and softball, I am happy.


Keep on Coaching

Honoring George Booker

Keep On Coaching
(Honoring George Booker)

Keep on coaching
Keep on working
Helping children

I am a coach volunteer
I help out year after year
In the parks I call home
When I’m with you I’m not alone
I teach kids to play ball
Helping them to stand up tall
To catch a ball with a glove
All through life do what you love

Thirty hours every week
Even coach in my sleep
What to do, what to play
After work coach each day
To help build up self-esteem
For children just like me
When I was young I was shy
Now I’m talking all the time

Life at home for me was tough
I did not get enough
Love from my mom and dad
But playing sports made me glad
When alone what do we do
All through life we must choose
To do wrong or do right
Talk it out do not fight

Please listen to what I say
Do homework before you play
Chop them weeds run up that hill
To improve I know you will
Each of you touch my heart
Everyday in the park
With discipline in all we do
All through life we make it through

Music by LARRY LONG. Words by LARRY LONG with the youth and community of Sibley Park.
(Minneapolis, Minnesota)

© Larry Long 2006 / BMI