With blazing pace, long strides and a blur of wheels, roller speedskating might be an exciting sport for young athletes to try — without even considering its potential to positively influence their lives for the long term.
Freddie Young’s inline skates — funded by a generous coach who saw his potential — carried him out of a rough neighborhood in Las Vegas and on to international competitions.
“My parents couldn’t afford for me to skate. They couldn’t afford for me to travel. They couldn’t afford for me to participate in the sport at all,” Freddie says. “I was blessed to have a coach — Larry Sanford at the Crystal Palace Skating Center — who saw talent in me or saw that he could help someone. So, he funded my travel. He funded my equipment and kept me in the skating rink for hours upon end instead of being on the streets, instead of being in trouble.”
Meanwhile, Melissa Young’s quads took her from the old Skateport rink in Springfield to an event in Texas where the two crossed paths as teenagers. They kept in touch and eventually married, started a family and settled in Nixa.
Both credit youth sports for paving the smooth path ahead of their younger selves. So when the two discussed establishing a legacy fund with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks and the Nixa Community Foundation, deciding what that fund might benefit was clear.
“We talked about things we care about, we kept circling back to youth and athletics,” Freddie says. “Our fund is geared towards helping unprivileged youth, because I always felt like sports with something that saved me and kept me from going on a path that probably wasn’t going to be the best.”
“It’s easy to recognize, with our kids being so involved in sports, that if they need a pair of cleats, we can run to Academy and get a pair of cleats,” Melissa says of their three kids. “For some kids, they’re not that fortunate.”