JONESBORO, Arkansas — Tyson Terrell Watkins is an avid sports junkie, one who has become a well-respected leader in the Natural State in the process.
He loves all kinds or sports.
You name it. He loves it.
By and large, as far as sports go, Watkins views such activities as a lifestyle, or sorts.
All of which is why he routinely uses sports as an avenue whereby he can enable youth to learn the importance of what it means to harbor a competitive drive, to grasp the notion of what it means to possess and exemplify favorable sportsmanship, to adopt the concept of what it means to maximize their potential, thus broaden their horizon.
“I’m passionate about sports,” Watkins told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “I grew up in a sports household and around family where everyone was involved in some type of sport and had their own legacy. I wanted a part in that and to build my own legacy growing up.”
To his credit, he has finally found his niche, thus solidified his divine purpose for why sports have become his sanctuary, of sorts, particularly as it pertains to building and impacting the lives of our youth.
Watkins is president and chief executive officer of the North East Arkansas Bandits AAU basketball program that’s based in Jonesboro, Arkansas.
Established for operations in 2012, the North East Arkansas Bandits is formerly known as the Clover Bend Bandits, a sports-related organization that was formed in the mid-1990s and was widely known for earning a national presence.
An organization that originally was comprised of youth athletes ranging in grades four through nine, NEA has steadily remained relevant, most notably on a national stage, considering its teams continues to compete at the highest of levels.
An organization that started with just 16 athletes, NEA is now home to more than 100 youngsters and, given the continuous strides it has made in recent years, NEA’s better days undoubtedly are well ahead of it, in large part because it is widely regarded as one of the elite programs in Arkansas as well as on a national level.
The Bandits are sanctioned by the National CYBL Competitive Youth Basketball League (or CTBL), an organization that is comprised of mostly southern states, most notably Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and, most recently, Arkansas.
That, after all, is something by which Watkins had envisioned when he founded his basketball organization some four years ago.
“This would not be possible without parents and great coaches that (has helped make) this program (a success),” Watkins said. “I couldn’t ask for a better group (parents and coaches who upholds the organization’s rallying cry of) Bleed Orange.”
In addition, Watkins acknowledged he is mostly appreciative of the assortment of life lessons and the life-enhancing mission for which his organization widely known.
“The lessons sports are what teach these kids,” Watkins, a former Newport (Ark.) High multisport athlete, said. “The big thing I want kids to learn is that you can learn from your success and you can also learn from your mistakes.”
All of which is to say that as far as sports go, Watkins views such activities as a lifestyle, or sorts, let alone a way to build and add to his already impressive legacy.
Talk about a well-respected leader in the Natural State.
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Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.