Focus for the Future: Interview with Tim Barnett

Episode 1

Rob Mattingly and John DeCamillis launch their new podcast with an interview.  They speak with Tim Barnett, Founder of FOCUS Training Academy in Louisville.  FOCUS (an acronym for Focus On Character Equals Ultimate Success) works with youth to provide direction, motivation, purpose and a sense of personal responsibility.  Let’s join Rob and John for this insightful episode.

Tim explains that a core part of the FOCUS experience is based on developing people skills.  Young people are taught and then expected to greet adults and others.  It instills a sense of self-confidence and pride, which is constantly reinforced.  The environment also provides examples of leaders and the value of getting to know people who may be able to help them in the future.  It fosters a sense of community and belonging for all involved.

This is about more than basketball; it’s about life.  Tim discusses “The Story of 5” as an example of how lives can be changed and enriched.  He brought together 5 young girls from different socio-economic backgrounds.  They bonded as their team and friendships began to take form.  Several of the girls ended up going to high school together.  But the “winning” didn’t stop there.

How Does FOCUS Training Academy Achieve Its Objectives?

Tim and his team push people outside of their normal comfort zones.  Activities often include community outreach and service projects.  Academic performance and proper nutrition are also important parts of the program.  It’s about building the person holistically.  The positive habits are expected and reinforced.  Accountability is an important life-skill.

What if I Can’t Afford to Attend FOCUS Training Academy?

There are scholarships available, based on a work-study style arrangement.  Roughly 60% of the kids involved are on scholarship.  Funding from the community is key to being able to continue this valuable program.

How Does FOCUS Training Academy Help with Academics?

The Academy has partnered with JCPS.  Certified teachers come to the facility to help with tutoring after hours.  The focus on academics goes further than tutoring.

Coping with the other Outbreak

John shares some comments about Louisville’s challenge with juvenile crime and violence.  Many kids don’t have the opportunity to escape dangerous environments.  FOCUS Training Academy is helping to address the situation.

Louisville’s West End can be a challenging environment.  The COVID pandemic has amplified that challenge because the schools have been closed down.  Many parents are working outside of the home and the children are sometimes left with little or no supervision.  It’s a recipe for problems.

FOCUS Training Academy opened the Jesse E. Barnett Jr. Enrichment Center in 2019.  It’s been offering NTI (non-traditional instruction) in conjunction with JCPS.  Classes are held from 8:30 to 2:00.  JCPS is also providing breakfast and lunch at the Center.

Many of the kids are able to participate in sports from 2:00 to 3:30. They take care of business and then get to have fun.  It provides a sense of belonging and safety.  Tim comments that its very similar to the Boys & Girls Club he attended when he was young.

A History of Providing a Positive Environment

Tim describes how the idea and the foundation for FOCUS Training Academy began to take shape in 2005.  Tim has a calling to work with young people.  Initially he got engaged with Ballard and Waggener High Schools.  That was his launching pad for what the program has evolved into over the years.

Rob’s 4 Life Questions

As part of the Life, Love & Law Podcast, Rob will present guests with 4 insightful questions:

  1. If you could give any advice to a kid OR if you could go back as a kid and have someone give you advice, what would it be?
  2. What’s the best present you ever got or gave?
  3. What’s something about you that most people don’t know?
  4. Who was the biggest (or one of the biggest) influences in your life?

Tim gives some heart-filled responses, including some sincere comments about his coach, Bob Redman.

Rob and Tim Discuss Walking the Walk

The creation of the Enrichment Center was critically important to show the kids it’s about much more than basketball.  Later, Lakers basketball player Rajon Rondo (a friend of Tim’s) partnered, through his foundation, to fund the Rajon Rondo Learning Center for Teens.  There are ACT prep and financial literacy classes available.  Tim also proposes a class to introduce kids to a potential career in the law.  The off-the-court activities are done through the Enrichment Center.

John and Tim discuss sustainability.  Tim works the program every day.  However, it takes the support of others to keep it going.  They are battling some startling statistics related to gun violence in Jefferson County.

How Can You Get Involved?

DeCamilis & Mattingly has made a significant financial commitment to the Focus Training Academy.  Tim’s main strength is teaching kids about basketball and life.  You can help by making a contribution to Focus Training Academy.  Tim’s made a ripple in our community.  Your help can make a wave.

More information about the Law Offices of DeCamillis and Mattingly, PLLC
Address: 138 S. Third Street, Louisville, KY 40202 (across from The Old Spaghetti Factory)
Phone: (502) 589-2822
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Contact Us

DeCamillis & Mattingly, PLLC

138 S. Third Street
Louisville, KY 40202
ph: (502) 589-2822
fax: (502) 589-2826

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