Stephen Mackey will be Program 15’s new “Mental Skills Coordinator.”
For many, the first question after reading that sentence would be somewhat natural: What does a “mental skills coordinator” do?
The highly-sought after speaker, who was recommended by Ontario Blue Jays’ skipper Sean Travers, was kind enough to, as he says, connect the dots.
“What I’m going to help athletes do is connect the dots between the game of baseball and the game of life,” he explained.
“We have these super-talented and driven young athletes that have a world of potential in front of them, and what I’m going to help them do is see that some of the very same skill-sets, mental discipline and the ethos that’s going to help them be successful in the game of baseball will ultimately help them be successful in life beyond baseball. Whether their career lasts five years, 15 years, they can get those same skills and connect them over into life.”
As you can see, the development process at Program 15 isn’t just focused on on-field activities; Mackey is scheduled to address the players of both teams for a 90-minute mental skills training session following the first game at the upcoming International Weekend event in Sugar Land, Texas on August 15.
“The addition of Stephen Mackey makes us better,” said P15 and New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series CEO Jeremy Booth. “His message is one everyone needs to hear and as a pastor the integrity of his word is founded in his belief in Christ. After spending time with him and learning what he’s about, I’m comfortable saying he’s selfless, part of the solution, and embodies the message he delivers.”
Mackey’s story itself is fascinating. The Texas A&M graduate and ex-Division 1 college football player has, as it accurately says on his website, beaten the odds to become a first-generation college graduate, teacher, encourager, entrepreneur and international communicator.
“I was born to a teenage mother, my mom was 16 years old when she had me,” Mackey said. “She was white, my father was black. Statistically, some of the things that were likely to be true of me included things from that I would fall behind on childhood development and standardized testing, less likely to graduate from high school or college, more likely to be arrested by my 18th birthday, father a child out of wedlock or live a life of poverty. Statistically speaking, my life was destined to be a failure. Along the way, I had family members – my grandparents, they adopted me – and I had coaches and teachers in my life that saw in me what I didn’t see in myself and taught me how to connect the dots from sports to life and how I could use the very same skill set that was making me successful on the field to my advantage off of the field.
“I would attribute the bulk of my success in life to those people that loved me and cared for me and saw in me what I didn’t see in myself very early on and taught me how to connect the dots. Ultimately, none of those things ever came true because I had those coaches that taught me to connect the dots. I played two years of college football out of high school, and then…was the first in my family to graduate with a four-year degree. I earned a Masters Degree, and was the first in my family to have a graduate degree. I have two beautiful kids, a third on the way, beautiful wife…all of the things they said would come true, none of them ever did.
“Out of college, I was involved in a student ministry organization, a non-profit called YoungLife. That had me spending time with students; my undergrad had an emphasis on youth development, so I had some educational background in this as well. In about 2012, I started speaking professionally; traveling and speaking to student groups and churches around the world. I’ve had the privilege to speak on four different continents and most of the states in the U.S. I started doing locker room character development stuff, and this year, we started “2Words Character Development,” and it was out of all those years of growing up in athletics and through serving as a character coach and my education that brought me to a place where we were able to start a business where we could work with high school athletic departments across Texas as well as the U.S. and help them develop a character development curriculum.”
But it’s more than just a business for Mackey. Knowing what, statistically, his life should have been, he takes great pride in being able to show others the light to help them stay in the baselines on and off the field.
“There are no words,” said Mackey, when asked to describe how much that means to him.
“Today, I just got off the phone with a kid from Wisconsin who listens to my daily podcast — I do a daily leadership podcast called ‘The Plus One’ — and in tears, this is a college kid, he said that listening to my podcast and interacting with it, it literally changed his life. He was going one way, and now he was 180 in a different direction. That’s what gets me up in the morning. There’s nothing; no amount of money or anything that could ever beat that conversation. To have guys have the opportunity to connect the dots and see that at the scale that Program 15 and New Balance Baseball is going to allow, I feel like I’d ought to be paying those guys, because I’m going to receive so much more than I’ll ever give.”