Music industry veteran Jerry Clark has provided the youth of metro Atlanta the opportunity to learn hands on baseball and life lessons from current and former professional players, courtesy of the Jerry Clark Foundation. Of his many coaching tips shared on an off the field, Clark says, “Always outwork the next person. Respect the game. At home, it’s respect the house and your siblings.”
Here, the father of three offers fatherhood advice.
What is the best part about being a father?
The sheer awe of it. While parenting is a tremendous responsibility, it is also quite entertaining for me because my kids are some interesting characters. I love them and while I don’t like everything they do, I really like my kids. I am truly awestruck by children.
What three life tips do you share with your son?
Focus, discipline and consistency. Focus on the big picture, show up and earn your stripes every day in every way and consistently evolve so that every day is better than the day before.
How do you and he talk about his friends?
Candidly, his friends are often included in the conversations because I have coached them all and watched them grow up. I tell them all the time that is it better to have a few solid friends than to win a popularity contest with a bunch of fickle people who are in your life in order to benefit their own agenda.
What goals have you set together and how did you identify the goals?
Sports is how my father and I bonded and it is how my son and I bond. My son wants to play major league baseball. I support him in every way imaginable so that he can reach that goal. Generally, I am teaching and encouraging him to take care of himself on and off the field every day. When he was younger, he asked me to take a picture in front of every major league field whenever I traveled. It is a continual reminder of his commitment to play in the major leagues and it is also a way for me to metaphorically take him with me on my business trips. Every picture is followed by a conversation wherein I speak life to his dreams and encourage him to focus and do the work every day in order to prepare to receive the opportunity.
How have you supported your son’s interests?
By being his coach, a present and engaging father and always inviting him to freely share his thoughts and perspectives with me. I want to know what he is thinking because I always want to be sure that I am supporting his dreams and not my own.
What role does baseball play in your son’s life and how have you committed to the sport?
Baseball is a father-son sport, Whether we’re playing catch or watching on TV. It is the sport which bonds us to each other and to my late father, a family tradition which we love and enjoy together. The sport is a great teaching tool for life lessons, providing a language and points of reference. Baseball is a great stage on which to play, but please know that the commitment is to our connection.
Why should Black parents support children playing baseball?
All parents should support all of their children — period. You don’t need baseball or any particular sport to serve as a backdrop. You simply need to show up with a heart full of love, commit to being present and share yourself authentically and transparently with your seeds. Doing so frees your children to also share authentically and transparently. For me, baseball is a significant part of the fabric of my being. Therefore it is a significant part of how I bond with my son.
How are you your son’s life coach?
I have candid conversations with him in order to assist him with managing expectations. As I learn life lessons, I teach him those lessons so that he can get it at an earlier age and stage in life and apply it for the purpose of being better than me. The goal of every generation should be to make the next generation better.
How do you share the concept of failing forward in mistakes you have made in life?
I truly believe that there is a lesson and blessing in everything, but often people spend more time wallowing in the messiness of life and never reflect in order to gather the lessons and blessings. Because I am so close to my kids, they have a front seat to every occurrence in my life; including the mistakes. As I am going through it, they too are going through it and that pains me and also encourages me most. So in sharing the failures transparently and inviting them to share their thoughts, feelings and perspectives with me openly sets the stage for teachable moments wherein we can identify the lessons and blessings.