After nearly 20-year absence, Shapreta Smith and her mom amend broken relationship

DALLAS — According to God’s manual, when Jesus said to His disciples: “”A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another,” what He generally insinuated is that such a commandment wasn’t only directed toward the 12 who followed Him daily, but rather it is meant for all of humanity to take heed.

For Shapreta Smith, given the close knit bond she has established with her mother, Shirley Brister, in recent years, it’s safe to assume that she has grasped a thorough understanding of this life-enhancing notion.

MomFeaFor a little more than two decades of Smith’s young life, she and mother admittedly did not have what she described as a “close relationship.”

In fact, as this native of Magnolia, Mississippian tells it, communication between her and her mother was virtually nonexistent.

But after years of soul-searching, self-assessing, and evaluating her ties with her mom, Smith ultimately had come to realization that it was time to officially address what undoubtedly was the grandest barricade of her life.

In a nutshell, Smith, who admittedly “was listening to one side of the story from family members and friends but I never heard her (mother’s) side,” sensed she owed it to herself to amend and bring closer to the distance between her and her mother.

BACK WITH MOM --- For a little more than two decades of Shapreta Smith’s young life, she and mother admittedly did not have what she described as a “close relationship.”  In fact, as this native of Mississippian tells it, communication between her and her mother was virtually nonexistent.  But after years of soul-searching, self-assessing, and evaluating her ties with her mom, Smith ultimately had come to realization that it was time to officially address what undoubtedly was the grandest barricade of life.  In a nutshell, Smith, who admittedly “was listening to one side of the story from family members and friends but I never heard her (mother’s) side,” sensed she owed it to herself to amend and bring closer to the distance between her and her mother.

BACK WITH MOM — For a little more than two decades of Shapreta Smith’s young life, she and mother admittedly did not have what she described as a “close relationship.”
In fact, as this native of Mississippian tells it, communication between her and her mother was virtually nonexistent.
But after years of soul-searching, self-assessing, and evaluating her ties with her mom, Smith ultimately had come to realization that it was time to officially address what undoubtedly was the grandest barricade of life.
In a nutshell, Smith, who admittedly “was listening to one side of the story from family members and friends but I never heard her (mother’s) side,” sensed she owed it to herself to amend and bring closer to the distance between her and her mother.

No doubt, she’s delighted she did as she celebrates MemphiSport’s Second Annual Salute To Mother’s Day.

That’s because today, more than ever before, Smith and her mother have put their checkered past where it belongs: behind them.

“After the truth and a clear understanding had been revealed, God gave us the strength to forgive each other and mend what had been broken so many years ago,” Smith said during a recent interview.

Long before Smith and her mother had reestablished their ties, Smith — who currently resides in the Dallas area with her husband, Malcolm Smith — recalled many nights when she dozed off to sleep on what was a pillow drenched in tears.

“Many nights I cried wondering why I had not been chosen to have my real mother by my side,” Smith said. “I wanted what my younger brother and sister had. Over time, I grew a strong resentment towards her and never wanted to be in her presence and the input from family never made that resentment weaken. So many events happened that it is too many to name. When I grew up, I began to see more and more of her in me.”

And because Smith eventually had begun to assume an assortment of her mother’s characteristics, she sensed it was time the woman who gave birth to her 24 years ago ultimately witness those intriguing habits.

Shapreta Smith and husband, Malcolm, currently reside in the Dallas area.

Shapreta Smith and husband, Malcolm, currently reside in the Dallas area.

Up close and in person.

Before it was all too late.

“One day I called after months of not speaking after a previous disagreement and apologized for the misunderstanding,” said Smith, explaining how she had gone about rekindling her relationship with her mother. “She forgave me and I forgave her and we’ve been rocking ever since. So, no, my tribute isn’t about a memory of being tucked in at night, getting boyfriend advice as a teenager, getting punished for sneaking out, or even spending time together growing up. It is about forgiveness.”

A pivotal life concept that, given the close knit bond she has established with her mother in recent years, Smith has come to grasp and apply to her daily living.

That’s because after a little more than two decades, all is well now.

Mom and daughter are exactly where they supposed to be.

Back together again.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Whether your mother is living or deceased, if you would like to pay homage to your mom, grandmother, wife, girlfriend, etc., with a unique Mother’s Day tribute that will feature an in-depth story like this one, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him under “Andre T. Johnson” for details.

DreAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson also covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Carolina salon owner Yvette Perry-Bullock servicing celebs as thriving entrepreneur

For Yvette Denise Perry-Bullock, she learned a sense of responsibility long before many of her peers.

Having grown up Detroit, Michigan, Perry-Bullock’s first real job came at the age of nine when she assumed a newspaper route post.

From that point on, it seemed that striving to maximize her potential became virtually a customary trend.

Widely known as “Pinky” by many who have come to known her since her youth, Perry-Bullock is owner and operator of Styles By Pinky Salon and Hair Gallery in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Located at 5329 Yadkin Road (Suite B) in the heart of Fayetteville, Perry-Bullock doesn’t shy away from the notion that she boasts what she describes as an “entrepreneurial flair” and “competitive nature,” essential attributes she contends have given way to her steadfastly striving to offer the best available service to her array of clients in greater Fayetteville.

RISING STAR — Widely known as “Pinky” by many who have come to known her since her youth, Yvette Perry-Bullock is owner and operator of Styles By Pinky Salon and Hair Gallery in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Located at 5329 Yadkin Road (Suite B) in the heart of Fayetteville, Perry-Bullock doesn’t shy away from the notion that she boasts what she describes as an “entrepreneurial flair” and “competitive nature,” essential attributes she contends have given way to her steadfastly striving to offer the best available service to her array of clients in greater Fayetteville.

“I wanted to upgrade from the salons I had worked in,” Perry-Bullock said during a recent exclusive interview.

To her credit, it’s safe to assume that she’s done just that, something about which she credits her parents who, long before their daughter was too young to understand, had gain a thorough appreciation for taking on such stiff responsibilities.

Given the continuous success this thriving, progressive woman of color has enjoyed since she made the lofty leap into the entrepreneurial world, Perry-Bullock undoubtedly has just one place to go — and that’s up.

Among the reasons is that the 48-year-old Perry-Bullock had made it point as a youngster to absorb her parents’ knowledge and wisdom, considering they were business owners. Not only did Perry-Bullock take heed to her parents’ advice, but she also acquired some hands-on experience in the process.

“My parents owned and operated their own mom and pop store,” Perry-Bullock explained. “And I ran their store while they worked other jobs after school at (the ages of) 12 and 13. I also had a paper route.”

Aside from working to generate income at a young age, Perry-Bullock was fixture in school activities, particularly when she attended Detroit’s Redford High, from where she graduated in 1984.

For instance, during her days at Redford, Perry-Bullock was a member of the choir and marching band.

“I love singing,” Perry-Bullock said.

 

Aside from working to generate income at a young age, Perry-Bullock was fixture in school activities, particularly when she attended Detroit’s Redford High, from where she graduated in 1984.In addition to putting her singing talents on display, Perry-Bullock was a flag twirler as well as a member of the school’s Pep Squad. And, because of her always-outing, witty persona, she was voted “Most Photogenic,” as part of Bedford’s Class of ’84 Senior Superlatives.Aside from having evolved into one of Fayetteville’s up-and-coming hair stylists, this self-proclaimed “sexy 48” year-old business owner also is widely known as a philanthropist.

STAR WATCH — In assessing her success in recent years, most notably as chief operating officer of Styles By Pinky Salon and Hair Gallery, among Perry-Bullock’s key plans for her business is to target individuals who amassed annual income in the neighborhood of $50,000 and above.
How else to explain why this rising star of hair stylist has been afforded the opportunity to render services to a number of celebrities, most notably renowned actor-comedian Katt Williams?

Among the reasons is that Perry-Bullock is fixture in the Fayetteville community, largely because of her presence through her non-profit organization called, “Self Reflections,” a fledging establishment she created and established in 1996.

“Self Reflections” officially became an incorporated organization in 2002.

In assessing her entrepreneurial success in recent years, most notably as chief operating officer of Styles By Pinky Salon and Hair Gallery, among Perry-Bullock’s key plans for her business is to target individuals who amass an annual income in the neighborhood of $50,000 and above.

How else to explain why this rising star of hair stylist has been afforded the opportunity to render services to a number of celebrities, most notably renowned actor-comedian Katt Williams?

“I will be a sexy 49 in October,” Perry-Bullock said with a smile. “I am an entrepreneur, philanthropist and a cosmetologist.”

A thriving, progressive business-oriented mindset that dates all the way back to as young as she can recall.

She has her parents to thank.

PLEASE LIKE THE STYLES BY PINKY SALON FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Styles-by-Pinky/294467370585057?fref=ts

DreAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson also covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Longtime SCS supervisor Betty Pegues uses life’s lessons to start cleaning business

DUNCANVILLE, Texas — While growing up in the heart of North Memphis, Saturday mornings in the household where Betty Pegues resided were virtually foreseeable.

TREND SETTER --- Fortunately for Betty Pegues, the professional relationships she has built throughout her career for SCS has given way to more success, particularly as a thriving business owner.  As chief operating officer of Affordable Cleaning Services, Pegues’ current client is Cricket Communications in which licensed, bonded, and insured business provides service for three locations throughout the Memphis metropolitan area.  (Photos submitted by W. Pegues)

TREND SETTER — Fortunately for Betty Pegues, the professional relationships she has built throughout her career for SCS has given way to more success, particularly as a thriving business owner.
As chief operating officer of Affordable Cleaning Services, Pegues’ current client is Cricket Communications in which licensed, bonded, and insured business provides service for three locations throughout the Memphis metropolitan area.
(Photos submitted by W. Pegues)

Watch her mother, Vernice Johnson, cook breakfast.

Watch wrestling with father, Edward Johnson, Sr.

Clean the house.

Especially clean the house.

The third oldest of 15 children, Pegues was often thrust as the ringleader with regards to ensuring that she and siblings fulfilled their regular responsibilities of keeping a three-bed room house tidy.

“I came from a large household,” Pegues said during a recent interview. “But our house was one of the cleanest on the street.”

To her credit, while being raised mostly in a Christian environment in which attending church on Sundays and learning life’s toughest of lessons were essentially traditionally for what has always been a close-knit family, Pegues deemed it necessary to adopt clean establishments as a lifestyle, of sorts.

A veteran employee for Shelby County Schools (formerly Memphis City Schools) in which she is currently the plant manager for Germanshire Elementary, Pegues, 55, has blossomed into arguably one of the school system’s most sought-after and well-respected facility supervisors.

For starters, Pegues’ track record is such that she has proven to be an award-winning SCS employee, having garnered recognition for High Quality Performance during an SCS career that spans nearly 30 years. Add to the fact that her work has been so frequently recognized and applauded by her employers, that former Westwood High principal Michael Smith in 2004 said he would relocate across town to Kirby High on one condition: if Pegues would come along with him.

PROVEN LEADER --- The third oldest of 15 children, Pegues was often thrust as the ringleader with regards to ensuring that she and siblings fulfilled their regular responsibilities of keeping a two-bed room house clean.  “I came from a large household,” Pegues said during a recent interview. “But our house was one of the cleanest on the street.”

PROVEN LEADER — The third oldest of 15 children, Pegues was often thrust as the ringleader with regards to ensuring that she and siblings fulfilled their regular responsibilities of keeping a three-bed room house clean.
“I came from a large household,” Pegues said during a recent interview. “But our house was one of the cleanest on the street.”

“He’d always tell (school officials), ‘This is my very fine engineer, Mrs. Pegues,’” said Pegues, explaining her success in having built a solid rapport with her former boss. “He always said, ‘Look at these floors because she and staff were responsible for cleaning them.’ He said, ‘If it weren’t for the chemicals she put on them, you could eat off them.’”

Fortunately for Pegues, the professional relationships she has built throughout her career for SCS has given way to more success, particularly as a thriving business owner.

As chief operating officer of Affordable Cleaning Services, Pegues’ current client is Cricket Communications in which her licensed, bonded, and insured business provides service for three locations throughout the Memphis metropolitan area.

According to Pegues, Cora Bailey, an acquaintance who manages one of the local Cricket stores, inspired her to erect her own cleaning business, informing her that there might perhaps be a need for services for several Memphis-area corporate offices.

Consequently, Pegues began to devises plans to start Affordable Cleaning. By mid-March of last year, she had signed her first contract with a client.

WE ARE FAMILY --- A mother of two, Betty Pegues’ daughter, Tiffany Johnson (left), 39, is a 1994 graduate of Whitehaven High. Her son, Andre Johnson, 40, a 1993 Whitehaven High and 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis, resides in Dallas, Texas, where he is an NBA reporter.

WE ARE FAMILY — A mother of two, Betty Pegues’ daughter, Tiffany Johnson (left), 39, is a 1994 graduate of Whitehaven High. Her son, Andre Johnson, 40, a 1993 Whitehaven High and 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis, resides in Dallas, Texas, where he is an NBA reporter.

A business that recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, Affordable Cleaning specializes in a variety of services, most notably floor stripping and waxing, shower scrubbing, carpet shampooing and cleaning, and cleanings upon move-ins and move-outs.

While her establishment has been in operations for a year, Pegues emphasized that her experience in detail cleaning dates back to her days when she was hired for the local school system.

“We promote customer satisfaction all the time,” Pegues, a 1977 graduate of Kingsbury High, said. “We make sure our customers are pleased.”

Pleased and satisfied much like her parents during her days of growing up in North Memphis.

“My foundation was when I started cleaning at home,” Pegues explains. “I take pride in what I do. And I love what I do.”

Among the reasons Pegues has gained a passion for her work is that she says the biggest misperception people have about cleaning is that they think cleaning with their hands is beneath them.

“People don’t understand,” she said. “They think you shouldn’t like cleaning up. But I take pride in what I do.”

Such a trend, she acknowledges, has prompted others to buy into her longstanding vision as a rising entrepreneur.

“We are a superb cleaning business,” said William Pegues, Betty’s husband of 17 years who works alongside her.

DREAM CLEAN TEAM --- Such a trend, she acknowledges, has prompted others to buy into her longstanding vision as rising entrepreneur.  “We are a superb cleaning business,” said William Pegues, Betty’s husband of 17 years who works alongside her.

DREAM CLEAN TEAM — Such a trend, she acknowledges, has prompted others to buy into her longstanding vision as rising entrepreneur.
“We are a superb cleaning business,” said William Pegues, Betty’s husband of 17 years who works alongside her.

Betty Pegues has been a plant manager for SCS since 2002, a stint that includes tenures at Westwood High (2002-2004), Kirby High (2004-2007), Riverview Elementary (2007-2008), and Germanshire, where she’s worked for the past seven years.

A mother of two, Betty Pegues’ daughter, Tiffany Johnson, 39, is a 1994 graduate of Whitehaven High. Her son, Andre Johnson, 40, a 1993 Whitehaven High and 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis, resides in Dallas, Texas, where he is an NBA reporter.

Despite an SCS career that spans nearly three decades, she credits a majority of her success to her mother and late father, who passed away in June 2008.

“They were really the beginning for me,” Betty Pegues said. “Had they not taught me how to clean and to do it correctly, I don’t think I’d be as successful as I am. I pretty much know what to look for when I go into a business. I know what to look for and my staff knows what to look for. I have high standards.”

Standards that, to her credit, were birthed long ago in the confines of a three-bedroom house in the heart of North Memphis.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information or a free estimate through Affordable Cleaning, call Betty Pegues at 901-351-3251 or email her at: [email protected] Also, call William Pegues at 901-494-1696.

DrePicAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send an email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

Memphis martial arts guru Darren Yancey teaching discipline, life lessons to youth

 

TRUE PRO --- Darren Yancey, an eight degree black belt, has been teaching martial arts for the past 26 years. The native Memphian runs Scorpion Marital Arts in Cordova, which is comprised of about 45 participants who train two nights a week at Hope Presbyterian Church. (Photos submitted by Avis Abram)

TRUE PRO — Darren Yancey, an eight degree black belt, has been teaching martial arts for the past 26 years. The native Memphian runs Scorpion Marital Arts in Cordova, which is comprised of about 45 participants who train two nights a week at Hope Presbyterian Church. (Photos submitted by Avis Abram)

Darren Yancey was about a half an hour removed from having wrapped up a two-hour training session Monday night at Scorpion Martial Arts in Hope Presbyterian Church in Cordova.

He didn’t seem to be in a rush to leave the building.

Instead, Yancey, who runs Scorpion Martial Arts, deemed it necessary to speak one-on-one with 12-year-old Cameron Davis, one of his academy’s newest members.

“When one fall, we all fall,” Yancey told Davis. “When one do pushups, we all do pushups? We’re a team. We can’t go out and represent Scorpion Martial Arts without having good representation.”

Fortunately for Yancey, a veteran Shelby County Sherriff Deputy, the close-knit relationship he has established with his colleagues and is among the reasons his martial arts business is among the most popular throughout the Mid-South.

Scorpion Martial Arts specializes in the PaSaRyu system, created by Ninth Degree Master Ox, Kang Rhee.  The PaSaRyu, or the “Way of Honor” style, is a blend of elements of Karate, Kung Fu, and Taekwondo. By and large, the style is more open and free than the traditional forms. Also, the PaSaRyu requirements, self-defense, sparring, board breaking and grappling techniques are taught and required to promote.

Yancey was taught martial arts by the legendary Kang Rhee (left), who is widely known for training Rock 'N Rock icon Elvis Presley in the early 1970s.

Yancey was taught by legendary martial arts guru Kang Rhee (left), who is widely known for training Rock ‘N Rock icon Elvis Presley in the early 1970s.

Yancey, a native Memphian and eight-degree black belt champion, has been training martial arts classes for a little more than 26 years. According to Yancey, martial arts isn’t merely a craft by which participants can learn to fight, but rather it teaches an array of concepts, most notably self-discipline and good character, especially for youngsters such as Davis.

 

“Martial arts is not just about kicking and punching,” Yancey told MemphiSport. “It’s a respect and discipline. You don’t fight until you get your black belt.”

Having grew up in the heart of North Memphis, Yancey first acquired in interest in martial arts years ago when he attended Snowden Junior High. Accompanied by his mother to Overton Park, which is in close proximity of Snowden, Yancey noticed a man punching what appeared to be a sign that featured bricks.

From that point, he was sold on a sport that, nearly three decades later, has become a way of life for him.

“I told my mom I wanted to try martial arts,” Yancey said. “And she said, ‘Are you sure?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’”

Consequently, Yancey began taking martial arts lessons from Master Kang Rhee, an internationally-acclaimed instructor who is widely known for having taught Rock ‘N Roll icon Elvis Presley.

Yancey first met Kang Rhee in 1985. The two have since established a solid rapport, one in which Yancey said has aided him considerably with regards to what his career has become today.

“I’ve never thought I’d be this far,” Yancey said.

However, a strange thing happened on his way to his reaching the pinnacle of his career.

Yancey and his troops have competed in various places throughout the region, most notably Atlanta, Dallas, Jackson (Miss.), Little Rock, and Chattanooga, among others.

Yancey and his troops have competed in various places throughout the region, most notably Atlanta, Dallas, Jackson (Miss.), Little Rock, and Chattanooga, among others.

A year after capturing a green belt, Yancey took a 10-year hiatus from martial arts and began taking up other sports. He played football. He played baseball. Neither, it seemed, grasped his interest the way martial arts did.

“I missed martial arts a lot because that’s what I always wanted to do,” Yancey said. “I always wanted to get my black belt. As a kid, you always get side-tracked. Once you get off into something, you keep going until you establish your goals.”

Once he resurfaced on the martial arts circuit in the late 1990s, Yancey ultimately fulfilled his dream of capturing a black belt. Today, he’s destined to share his success with those who, like him, aspire to become knowledgeable about martial arts.

Over the past 26 years, he has trained more than 300 individuals, many of whom have started their own academy. Scorpion Martial Arts have students ranging from ages 4 to 50.

“Not only does he specializes in martial arts, but he enjoys working with children,” said Scorpion Martial Arts secretary Avis Adams. “He can actually get on their level so they can get involved. He brings out a lot of personalities that we haven’t seen.”

Which, according to Yancey, is relative to his academy’s longstanding mission of promoting self-discipline.

“When parents say, ‘I see a difference in my child’s,’ you’re doing something right,” Yancey said. “If your attitude don’t change, if your thought process don’t change, I’m not teaching you. I care about the child. I care about the student. When I see a child’s confidence go up, I’m doing my job.”

Even if means staying a while after class ends.

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. To reach Johnson, email him at [email protected]. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist. 

Ex-Arena Football star Johnny Loper enjoying greener pastures as Jaylo Fitness owner

GREENER PASTURES --- Johnny Loper enjoyed a brief professional football stint with the Memphis Xplorers of the arenafootball2 league from 2000-2003, earning about $300 a week. Today, the owner of Jaylo Fitness has witnessed his annual income increase considerably now that he has partnered his AdvoCare. (Photo submitted by Jonny Loper).

GREENER PASTURES — Johnny Loper enjoyed a brief professional football stint with the Memphis Xplorers of the arenafootball2 league from 2000-2003, earning about $300 a week. Today, the owner of Jaylo Fitness has witnessed his annual income increase considerably now that he has partnered his AdvoCare. (Photo submitted by Johnny Loper).

When Olive Branch, Miss.-area entrepreneur Johnny Loper started his business seven years ago, a regular work day for him lasted nearly 16 hours.

He didn’t see a problem with that.

“I was actually enjoying life because I didn’t have kids,” Loper told MemphiSport. “It was just me and my wife. But when my little boy came along, it wasn’t about me anymore. I kind of had a sour taste in my mouth because my dad had to work all the time. He couldn’t make all of my sporting events.”

Now a father of two, Loper sensed immediate changes needed to take place once his wife, Weslynne, gave birth to their first child. Among those changes was to make certain he didn’t spend lengthy hours at Jaylo Fitness at 8325 Highway 178 in Olive Branch, the business he founded roughly four years after his minor league football career had ended.

For Loper, a Waynesboro, Miss. native who starred at wide receiver for South Carolina State from 1995-2000, he had lofty aspirations of making an NFL roster, in large part because he wanted to retire his mother from the factory job she had for years in his native hometown.

However, after being invited to try out for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers following a three-year stint with the now-defunct Memphis Xplorers of the arenafootball2 league, Loper’s dreams of embarking upon NFL riches ended abruptly when he failed to earn a spot on the teams’ 53-men rosters.

“That wasn’t my purpose,” the 37-year-old Loper said during a recent interview from his residence in Olive Branch. “It was good for a season to learn different things. But that wasn’t my ending point.”

To his credit, among the things Loper learned during his brief tenure as a professional athlete was the importance of staying in good health. More than 10 years removed from having earned an Arena Football League check that paid him about $300 a week, Loper has cashed in mightily because of his stern commitment to helping individuals establish a healthy lifestyle.

Since 2011, Jaylo Fitness has partnered with AdvoCare, a premier health and wellness company that offers world-class energy, weight-loss, nutrition, and sports performance products along with rewarding business opportunities. For the Lopers, they have reaped the benefits of having joined one of the world’s premiere wellness companies, whose endorsers include an array of professional athletes, most notable Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten and New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl 44 MVP Drew Brees.

Loper, a former South Carolina State star wide receiver, had lofty dreams of playing in the NFL when he was invited to try out for the Pittsburg Steelers and Carolina Panthers following his brief Arena Football stint. (Photo courtesy of South Carolina State University)

Loper, a former South Carolina State star wide receiver, had lofty dreams of playing in the NFL when he was invited to try out for the Pittsburg Steelers and Carolina Panthers following his brief Arena Football stint. (Photo courtesy of South Carolina State University)

Last month, Loper helped produce a 24-minute DVD for AdvoCare with appearances by Whitten and Brees, as well as a host of NFL players.

As Loper recalls, if it weren’t for the long hours he invested to a fitness business that had already earned a favorable reputation among Mid-Southerners, it likely would have taken longer for him to realize why a career in the NFL wasn’t meant to happen.

While at his facility in 2005, Loper noticed a client leaving the building. In her bag, he saw some AdvoCare products. Once he inquired about the items, that’s when his life began to change.

“It took me at least five years until I started doing AdvoCare with our business,” Loper said. “I knew the products worked because we used it when I was in college. Everybody was coming to me to get me to do direct sales because everybody’s got juices and things of that nature. But what I loved about AdvoCare  was that your money was 100 percent back guaranteed. When we began researching, we saw the credibility the company had being that Drew Brees was endorsing AdvoCare for free. It wasn’t a company that just started up.”

That Jaylo Fitness elected to partner with AdvoCare three years ago — he earned approximately $18,000 within his first month after joining — Loper has gained more freedom away from his gym and now savors a carefree lifestyle that has enabled him to spend more time with his family. A usual work week at his fitness facility is comprised of between five-to-eight hours in which he mostly spends that time teaching what he calls “Fitness Bootcamps” or conducting hour-long total body workouts before a class of about 50 participants.

In other words, a majority of Loper’s work is done from the comfortable confines of his home.

“Within a matter of a month, we had earned $18,000,” Loper said. “Tears just came to my eyes. “When (his client) explained to me what had happened, I had a golden opportunity that I really couldn’t let slip away. That changed my life completely.”

Not to mention the livelihood of his mother, Fannie Loper.

Loper not only was able to retire his mother from the factory job she held since he was a child, but she has lost about 50 pounds because of her commitment to using AdvoCare products.

“That was my whole reason of trying to get to the NFL,” Loper said. “I was trying to get my mom out of that trailer and to retire her from her job.”

He managed to do both within just three months.

Never mind his dreams of playing in the NFL are now a distant memory.

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. To reach Johnson, email him at [email protected]. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist. 

Memphian LaDeitra Lee passing sports lessons along to her children in Texas

WE ARE FAMILY --- Former Whitehaven High basketball standout LaDeitra Lee and her family moved to Austin, Texas 14 years ago and have since been active in various sports, including swimming and the triathalon. (Photos by LaDeitra Lee)

WE ARE FAMILY — Former Whitehaven High basketball standout LaDeitra Lee and her family moved to Austin, Texas 14 years ago and have since been active in various sports, including swimming and competing in the triathlon. (Photos by LaDeitra Lee)

DALLAS — LaDeitra Walker Lee grew up in inner city Memphis.

She was determined not to become a product of her environment.

To her credit, she looked to basketball as an outlet, or sorts, to aiding her to earn a free college education.

All she did, in fact, was evolve into an All-State player while starring three seasons for Whitehaven High, an accolade that ultimately caught the attention of an array of scouts.

However, as much as Lee clung to dreams of playing basketball at the collegiate level, her craftiness as a prep volleyball standout overshadowed her display as one of Shelby-Metro’s premiere players. As a result, she still managed to embrace her dream of earning an athletic schlarship and signed a National Letter of Intent to play volleyball at Jackson State University.

For Lee, who first engaged in competitive sports when she was five years old, earning a full-ride scholarship proved beneficial in a variety of aspects, in large part because she did not want to follow the same path as her parents, who lessoned their children on the importance of going to college on an athletic scholarship.

“I was involved in sports because it kept us out of trouble as kids and hopefully pay for college,” Lee said Monday afternoon in a telephone interview from Austin, Texas.

Though her lofty dreams of playing college basketball didn’t come to frution, all was not lost. As Lee tells it, she used sports as a way of eluding student loans, a trend her parents wasn’t able to avoid when they enrolled in college.

“It was extremely rewarding because I got out of college without student loans,” Lee said. “So many people get out and have so many loans to pay. My parents were like, ‘You don’t want to spend your first five years (after earning a degree) and most of your paycheck is going to cover loans.’ They were so busy paying back loans.”

It’s safe to assume that Lee’s siblings also understood the advantages that come with earning an athletic scholarship. That’s because her two older brothers managed to earn football schloraships and avoid the stress of having to repay student loans. Her oldest brother, Eric Walker, is a former standout at Arkansas State, and her middle sibling, Reginald Walker, signed a letter of intent to play at Tennessee-Martin the mid-1990s.

“That’s what my parents taught us,” Lee said of using athletics to pay for a

The Lees and their children, Jaylen, Justin, and Sanaa, have become fixtures in the triathalon in the Austin, Texas area.

The Lees and their children, Jaylen, Justin, and Sanaa, have become fixtures in the triathlon in the Austin, Texas area in recent years.

college education.

A little more than two decades later, Lee and her husband, Mitchell Lee — who also earned a full-ride scholarship to Jackson State — are instilling the same valuable concepts into the lives of their three children, all of whom are active in competitive sports.

The couple’s oldest son, Jaylen, 10, first became involved in athletics when he took up soccer at the age of three. He has since become a fixture in other sports, most notably basketball, football, swimming, and triathlon.

Especially the triathlon.

“He usually wins all of his triathlons or has finished in the top,” Lee said of Jaylen, whose appearances in the sport have allowed him to compete in various venues throughout the Mid-South and several cities in Texas. “And in swimming, he’s always in the top 10.”

Like his brother, the couple’s six-year-old son, Justin also has become acclimated to the triathalon, swimming, and football in recent years, although he is currently involved in recreational basketball for Austin-area YMCA. Also, their youngest child, Sanaa, 5, is an avid swimmer and soccer player who is now starting to flourish as an amateur cheerleader and dancer.

Generally, although LaDeitra Lee said her children participate in sports for a combined 40 hours on a weekly basis, what she and her husband deems mostly intriguing is that sports have enabled them to develop camaraderies with others besides their family. And, aside from their jobs — Mitchell works in management for Dell, while LaDeitra holds a management post for Hewlet-Packard — sports allows the Lees to spend more time together as a family.

“We play sports together, we swim together, we do triathlons together, and we race,” Lee said. “We run together, we play basketball for fun, and we go to the pool. It just helps us love being around each other. It’s not just mom and dad taking them to school or mom and dad helping them with homework. A family that plays and prays together, stays together.”

That too, after all, was a trend in which her parents instilled in her and her siblings years ago while growing up in inner city Memphis.

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. To reach Johnson, email him at [email protected]. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist. 

Memphian Tyronza Crawford savoring her dream as a rising fitness trainer

WONDER WOMAN — Memphian Tyronza Crawford is a former college basketball player who always had lofty aspirations of becoming a certified fitness trainer. Today, she fulfilling her dream after years of battling to get her weight down. (Photos by Tevin Lucus)

Children have a unique way of getting their parents’ attention.

No doubt, Tyronza Crawford can attest to this notion.

As Crawford recalls, she was taking her baby daughter, Kristen, a bath a year ago. Suddenly, a funny thing happened before Crawford removed her child from the tub.

“I bent over in my daughter’s tub and she was like, ‘Mama, you’re fat,’” Crawford said with a grin. And my defense was, ‘I’m not fat. I’m trying to lose weight.’ That hurt my feelings. And, at that point, I knew it was time to do something different.”

Ever since what seemingly was a bizarre, gut-checking occurrence that prompted Crawford to take a thorough assessment of her health, she developed a strong commitment to reconnect with that about which she has been passionate.

“I’ve always had a passion and liking for fitness,” said Crawford, a former college basketball player who starred two seasons at Walter State Community College in Morristown, Tenn. before being re-recruited and finishing her college eligibility at Tusculum College in Greeneville, Tenn. “And I’ve always been very competitive.”

To her credit, Crawford, 30, not only has managed to overcome the disheartening struggles generated through being overweight, but the native Memphian is starting to reap the benefits of the “competitive” drive she embraced years ago when she first began playing pickup basketball games in Germany.

Today, Crawford is a fledging certified fitness trainer, an occupation she assumed just late last year, let alone a dream that, given her rapid success in such a brief timeframe, is starting to come full circle.

“I just recently started back working out,” Crawford said. “It definitely builds (my confidence), knowing I overcame obstacles and I can help others overcome the very things I was battling with as far as confidence and self-esteem.”

Long before Crawford realized the significance of staying in shape, she endured what she described as arguably the most tumultuous encounter of her life.

Months after graduating from Tusculum, Crawford and her family were met by some disturbing news when they learned her oldest brother, Zweldon Watkins, was diagnosed with heart disease, an illness that is the No. 1 killer for Americans according to an April 2013 report by the American Heart Association at www.heart.org. Consequently, doctors had discovered that Watkins who, for years, had struggled immensely with his weight, was also battling congestive heart failure, an ailment that ultimately cut his life short five years later.

On Dec. 12, 2008, Watkins died at the age of 30.

IMMEDIATE IMPACT—Roughly one month removed from having started regular personal workout sessions, a number of individuals have reached out to Crawford to inquire about her services as a personal trainer.

“That was definitely heartbreaking and devastating, considering he was the only male figure in my life at the time,” Crawford explained. “After his death, I struggled with my weight. That was a consistent struggle. I wasn’t really conscious of what I was eating. And you know, it wasn’t so much of I didn’t know what to do to get (my weight) down. It was just a matter of me making the time.”

Years later, following the demise of her brother, Crawford sensed it was time she make some immediate changes in her life. Among the essential modifications was to concentrate on eliminating her excess body weight.

“I have a son who wants to play football and he conscious of his weight,” Crawford said. “He has to be under a certain weight to play. So how can I enforce and encourage him to work out if I’m not doing it.”

Though Crawford recently devised a regular schedule for partaking in personal workout sessions, her admiration for health and fitness hasn’t gone unnoticed. Besides being assigned to oversee the weekly “Wonder Women” fitness class for Rock Church Memphis in Southeast Memphis, Crawford was chosen by longtime Memphis-area fitness specialist Juanita Barber to serve as the trainer for the “Faith And Fitness For Life Women’s Challenge,” an assortment of informative sessions aimed toward promoting health and fitness to women who are over 200 pounds and battling obesity.

The sessions are scheduled to run from Feb. 1 through Aug. 2.

As an up-and-coming fitness trainer, it appears Crawford has tackled her newfound craft head on. While she is only weeks removed from having obtained her certification, a number of individuals have already contacted her to inquire about her services as a personal trainer. Fortunately for Crawford, such a trend essentially has made what was an embarrassing moment while bathing her baby daughter one year ago a distant memory today.

“My confidence is definitely at an all-time high,” a much slimmer Crawford said with a smile. Even when I was going through the battles of getting my weight down, there were negative thoughts about getting my weight down. So it certainly shows you can do anything you put your mind to.”

Which is, after all, the message about which her daughter was trying to send a year ago.

For more information about obtaining a personal trainer, call Tyronza Crawford at 901-340-3898 or send email to: [email protected] . Also, follow her on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/tyronza.watkins.92

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. To reach Johnson, email him at [email protected]. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist

Work and Marriage and Exercise

This article originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of MemphiSport. 

For working parents, simply finding the time to breathe can be a daunting task. Between family activities and long hours on the job, little is left for alone time. Add running, biking, swimming, and weight training to the mix, and you’ve got a recipe one local business couple tackles regularly.

“You have to make time. Whether that time is early in the morning or right after work, you just have to keep doing it,” said Teresa Glass Owens of her ability to balance fitness with work and family. As president of Glass Seating & Mobility, Teresa manages a team of therapists and technicians who specialize in custom wheelchairs and rehab equipment that help otherwise immobile patients lead active lifestyles.

At times, Teresa even fits exercise into her schedule by working and working out simultaneously.

“A team member may come to me to pick my brain about a concern she’s having, and we’ll take it in stride, literally.” Teresa said. Instead of a typical meeting, she’ll go for a run with an employee to relieve work stress and troubleshoot problems of the day.

What began as a way to lose baby weight became a way of life for Teresa, following in the footsteps of her husband and business partner Forrest Owens, who oversees day-to-day operations as vice president of the company and races competitively after hours.

Forrest, a former skateboarder, took to running following a severe ankle injury in order to stay in shape and gain strength, a sort of self-rehabilitation.

“I’m naturally competitive so when my doctor told me I wouldn’t be able to run, I gradually started testing my limits,” said Forrest. Running quickly led to training for triathlons such as Ironman in Hawaii and mountain bike races like Leadville in Colorado, where he faced the country’s most elite endurance athletes. It also spawned his involvement in the local triathlon team Los Locos, a group known for its commitment to the community, hosting clinics, assisting with local sporting events and ensuring public trails remain unobstructed by commercial development.

Running with groups like Los Locos also provides an opportunity for networking in the local business community, a benefit both Teresa and Forrest have used to gain insight from health care providers and professionals.

From running in races like the St. Jude Half Marathon in December to running their business year round, the two share a bond that supersedes the common strains of personal and professional relationships thanks to their passion for fitness.

“It’s a constant shuffle of schedules, but staying healthy is what keeps us happy and helps us manage a company together,” said Teresa. “We’ve learned over time that in business and in life, you must know when to compromise for the sake of the whole, and we find that exercise clears our heads and enables us to do that.”

“And by incorporating fitness into our daily lives, we’re setting an example for our children and team members to follow,” she said.

By Beth Okeon

 

Campbell Clinic Physicians Combine Real Life Experiences with Patient Care

On a typical morning, Dr. Marc Mihalko wakes up before dawn, laces up his trainers and heads out for a workout—an hour-long run, a master swim class at the Y, or a 20-plus-mile bike ride.

For a physician who balances family life and his practice of orthopaedic medicine at Campbell Clinic with triathlon training, it is one of the most important parts of his day.

“I find that being an athlete lends itself to my profession in a big way. It allows me to get into the mindset of the patient because I understand what they’re going through and how it impacts what they want to accomplish,” Mihalko said. “The aches and pains they feel, I’ve felt.”

“When treating sports injuries, especially those related to running or triathlon training, I often share with the patient my experiences and that usually puts them at ease,” he said. “At that point, they trust that they’re in good hands.”

Dr. Mihalko is one of several physicians at Campbell Clinic who, in addition to treating patients, participates in competitive sports.

Dr. David LaVelle qualified in July for the 2011 Senior Olympics in Houston, Texas in the cycling event and competed alongside Drs. Ben Grear and Matt Busbee in the Memphis in May Triathlon. Drs. Mihalko and Jeffrey Sawyer participated in both the Memphis In May and Chicago Triathlons.

“They are one of a few events you can compete in at any age,” Mihalko explained of his reason for participating in triathlons. “You may compete against hundreds of others, but you’re essentially competing against yourself, setting a goal, and pushing yourself beyond your limits.”

With two triathlons under his belt, Mihalko hopes to compete in a Half Ironman Triathlon or a marathon in an international city, like Paris, where his wife lived for a year.

“For me, triathlons and marathons are about the destination,” he said. “Running in a big city is fun.”

Mihalko’s advice for those interested in competing in a triathlon or marathon is to get out of their comfort zone and avoid overtraining in the beginning.

“It’s easy to let a race overwhelm you if you focus on the total mileage you’re undertaking, but simply take it one mile at a time,” he said. “And, if you’ve never run before, don’t think you can immediately run 20 miles or five miles for that matter. Start out slow or you’ll end up in my office sooner than you’d like.”

Celebrating its milestone 100th year in business, Campbell Clinic is dedicated to the mission of providing unsurpassed patient care while continuing the clinic’s role as the leader in teaching and research in orthopedic surgery. Due to popular demand, Campbell Clinic opened its After Hours Clinic to make its specialized services available to patients Monday through Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.  For more information on Campbell Clinic, call 901.759.3100 or visit www.campbellclinic.com.


Club Personal Trainer Helps Clients Reach Great Heights

Jon Mungle, a personal trainer at Germantown Athletic Club, has found a way to incorporate his background in baseball and his passion for fitness into his daily life. Playing a variety of sports growing up, Jon decided to focus on baseball during high school, and put everything he had into developing his skills. The hard work paid off, and he went on to play college baseball at Mississippi State University.

With an undeniable passion for sports and fitness, Jon decided to major in kinesiology. His studies in class went hand-in-hand with his life on the field. They even tied into his career-ending ACL injuries.

“I tore my ACL the fifth game of the season in my junior year. Ironically enough, the day I tore it, we were studying the ACL in class. After going through 11 months of rehabilitation, I tore it a second time. It was very difficult – two surgeries on such an intense injury are extremely hard to come back from,” Jon said. “If there was an upside, it was the fact that through the hours and hours of therapy, I actually learned a lot about sports-related injuries. And not only how to properly rehabilitate them, but also how to avoid them.”

Jon now specializes in sport-specific training for athletes, weight management, flexibility and nutrition. Drawing from his own personal experiences, he is able to bring a lot to the table as a personal trainer at Germantown Athletic Club.

“My main goal is to teach the importance of posture and proper technique in order to avoid injury and excel on the field or in the gym,” Jon said.

Jon utilizes a workout technique called rate-of-force development, which involves taking movements and motions athletes use on the field and applying resistance in order to build strength. This type of training is commonly used by baseball players to increase the speed and power of their swing and overall quickness on the field.

One professional player that uses this training technique is Ed Easley, a friend of Jon’s and catcher in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. Ed started playing baseball as a child and decided his freshman year in high school to make it his main sport. When his senior year rolled around, Ed was offered full scholarship from every school in the Southeastern Conference and a few from the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“Mississippi State had a strong baseball tradition, was close to home and offered me the best opportunity to play as a freshman,” Ed said.

Before deciding to go to Mississippi State, however, Ed was approached by scouts from the Milwaukee Brewers and New York Yankees. Both teams flew him to their respective facilities for a workout, but after much consideration with his family, he decided to forgo the pros and play college baseball. After three years of catching at Mississippi State, Ed was selected as a first-round draft pick for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2007.

With his all-time goal of playing in the majors within reach, Ed realized he needed to use the off-season to build and develop his strength and technique.

“Ed called me and wanted me to build him a custom workout program. His primary goal was to get stronger and build flexibility,” Jon said. “He told me, ‘I need somebody to make me do it, and make me do it right.’ So that’s exactly what I did.”

Ed trained at the Club four to five times a week during the past off-season. After each training session, the pair headed to the batting cages where Jon would throw to Ed and critique his swing. The partnership is dynamic, and both men use the relationship as an opportunity to grow.

“I have been fortunate enough to workout at high-end gyms with professional trainers, and the Club is no exception. It has everything I need to achieve my goals. I really appreciate Jon and the rest of the staff taking time to not only help me but also the community get healthier,” Ed said. “I would recommend Jon to anyone looking to improve their athleticism. He comes from a strong sports background, which makes him great at what he does. And he’s an all-around good guy.”

In addition to training during the off-season, Ed gives back to the community by giving catching and batting lessons and hosting an annual pre-season baseball camp at Olive Branch High School, featuring professional and college baseball players. Jon helps lead the baseball camp with Ed and also uses his sport-specific training and coaching skills as an assistant coach for the St. George’s Gryphon’s varsity baseball team.