Live To L.E.A.D.: One Swing At A Time Grambling State Graduate Coach Desmond Stegall Empowers Youth Through The Game of Baseball
Two time graduate of Grambling State University and former GSU baseball player, Desmond Stegall works as an ambassador and head coach with organization L.E.A.D. to transform lives through baseball in the heart of Atlanta.
The acronym L.E.A.D. stands for L.-Launching, E.-Exposing, A.-Advising and D.-Directing. Through the year-round program, Pathway2Empowerment Programming, the coaches and ambassadors are inspiring and equipping young males with the empowerment they need to live a life of significance.
Playing the sport since a youngster, Stegall has always had characteristics of not only a lifetime leader, but a lifetime learner. While working on his Master’s degree in sports administration at GSU, Stegall worked as a Lady’s Tigers softball coach to gain more experience.
“Getting the opportunity to coach alongside former GSU Softball Head Coach, Wilbert Early as a graduate assistant was absolutely amazing and an experience I will always cherish,” Stegall said.
Coach Early was a big part of Stegall transforming from a player to a coach. He’s gotten the playing part down quite well, as he was first introduced to baseball by his mother, Annie Stegall at just age 4!
“My father Alvin Stegall was a football guy, so my mom won that battle,” he said jokingly.
He expressed how his mom, dad, and younger brother never missed a game whether it was baseball, football, basketball or swimming.
“They are my number one fans,” he said.
As a new coach, he always mentions to his players that leadership is an action, not a position. He can demonstrate that effectively and set such a solid example because of the leadership and support he received growing up and even now from his parents, family and friends.
He and L.E.A.D. creators C.J. and Kelli Stewart believe that baseball can provide valuable life lessons and access to educational & civic engagement opportunities. That is how it all happened for Stegall. He was able to go to GSU on scholarship and he wants to help provide his players with similar opportunities.
“Getting the opportunity to play under the leadership of Coach Cooper and Coach Pierre at Grambling impacted my life more than anything,” the former GSU athlete said.
He said even more than the scholarship, he still talks to Coach Cooper on a daily basis and owes him everything.
As a younger ambassador with L.E.A.D., he got the chance to provide the executive board with critical information on the day to day operations of L.E.A.D. which helps the board understand what is needed to strengthen the organization, and then create tactics to get the job done.
After time passed on he became a L.E.A.D. program grad. He then came back to his roots to work in the career training program where he knew that he could receive the additional knowledge and skills needed to be a viable candidate for executive positions in sports, edification, government and business. Stegall aspires to be a MLB Front Office Executive.
“My ultimate goal was to play professional baseball particularly for the Atlanta Braves, but as time passed and my playing days ended I wanted to help young men get the opportunities I had and even take it further,” he said. “Who better to help, than the young men from where I’m from!”
It has always been more than just bats and balls for Stegall. Through L.E.A.D. he has been able to help train young athletes with professionals and showcase their talent nationally by the age of 12.
“I played for an organization that focused on my development, one that helped me achieve my ultimate goal of playing baseball at the next level,” Stegall said about his experience with L.E.A.D.
Now as a head coach, he enjoys working with his teams more than anything because he is able to witness the increase of youth being able to play inner city baseball in middle and high school that prepare them to compete for collegiate level athletic scholarships.
He makes sure to not only focus on the training for the athletes but as high school students he and the program put focus on teaching the athletes to fight against crime, racism and poverty.
One of his favorite athletes are LeBron James. One thing Stegall has in common with James is that no matter what city he’s playing in or what team he’s playing on, he’s taking his leadership with him.
That is what Stegall wants to teach his players and with that comes the recipe to leadership and the core values: excellence, humility, integrity, loyalty, stewardship and teamwork.
The core values remind him of words of wisdom his former coach, Coach Randy Grey, who coached him from ages 9-14 would often tell him and his teammates.
“Play every game like it’s someone’s first time seeing you play.” “First impressions are everything, they need to leave knowing your name,” Coach Grey would say.
Stegall’s works as a mentor on and off the field. Recently, he spoke for career day to the second graders at Kimberly Elementary School in Atlanta about his role as program manager at L.E.A.D. He also got the opportunity to work with Theresa Wenzel, President of the The Atlanta Dream at Long Middle School.
— CoachQ (@MrVtheEducator) November 14, 2018
Coach Stegall said that often times most players feel like they have to be in a certain place or play for a certain organization to be seen by college or pro scouts.
As a coach, Stegall has been able to become the positive role model his coaches were to him, now to his own players. He has assisted with helping provide inner city Atlanta at-risk males with access to higher education. This is important for young men that believe that their legacy is more important than their reputation.
One of his proudest moments as a coach was during the summer 2018, when he watched his team win a game in the Perfect Game tournament.
“In the programs ten year existence we have never won a game in that tournament,” the Atlanta native said. “So, for us to put so much work in for it to finally turn into a win made me feel like my work was paying off!”
One of Steggall’s players that he has coached, Antonio Pierce, whom is now a Savannah State University commit is a great example of where great mentorship can land you.
“I thank Coach Des along with other coaches for helping me become the athlete I am today and preparing me for college baseball,” he said.
For nearly ten years and counting L.E.A.D. has faithfully served and empowered over 2,500 young men through the year-round #Pathway2Empowerment programming. Each year, the teams gets better, stronger and more determined to level the playing field of life for young men in Atlanta.
Baseball may have wrapped up in October, but at L.E.A.D., where the mission is to empower an at risk generation to lead and transform their city, the lessons that are being taught are taught to stick with the players a lifetime.
Working hard each and every day to become a stronger coach, Stegall plans to continue to strive to develop young players into compassionate, skilled adults who are prepared to be leaders on the field, in their homes, classrooms, communities and all around the world!
CONNECT WITH COACH STEGALL
Facebook: Des Stegall
“Real leadership is leaders recognizing that they serve the people that they lead.” Pete Hoekstra
E'Vonne Gipson66 Posts
Follow E'Vonne: Instagram: @forever_evonne Twitter: @EVonneGipson SC: @byevonnegipson E'Vonne Gipson is an award winning journalist from Missouri City, TX. She is a graduate of Grambling State University where she received a B.A. degree in Mass Communication with a concentration in journalism and public relations. Gipson has written for several publications including Sheen Magazine, HBCU Buzz, The Black Beat, The News-Star, The Ruston Daily Leader, JubileeMag.com, and Houston Style Magazine. She is a former business reporting intern at Abilene Reporter-News in Abilene, TX and a current social media intern for MC Lyte's Hip Hop Sisters Network. She first began her journalism career writing for her school's newspaper "The Gramblinite". In 2016, Gipson worked with the Web Department at Houston television station, KHOU-11 TV where she gained professional photography and social media skills. Gipson is currently a producer at USA Today Network newspaper, The News-Star in Monroe. She is a member of The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.