For Jeff Lisath, head boys basketball coach at Northridge High School, basketball can teach students a lot about the different facets of life — from building relationships and understanding teamwork to strengthening families.
It also provides a platform for ministry. As Jeff explains, “I tell my teams to clear their minds of ‘can’t’ because Philippians 4:13 tells us ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.’ ”
Understanding the importance of educating the leaders of tomorrow is a goal of the Jeff Lisath Basketball Ministries, which he established to provide basketball camps and mentorship opportunities for at-risk students. Through a fund at The Dayton Foundation he also provides yearly scholarships for students.
Q: Where are you from and what brought you to the Dayton Region?
A: I’m originally from Portsmouth, Ohio, and came to Dayton in 2012 after being appointed warden at the Dayton Correctional Institution and head boys basketball coach at Northridge High School.
Q: Who has influenced your desire to give both your time and dollars to charity?
A: I grew up in a very close knit neighborhood where everyone looked out for each other. I was blessed to have great parents and mentors in the community who keep me out of trouble and focused on goals and aspirations. After graduating high school, I received a scholarship to play basketball at Miami University. During my freshman year I decided to do something to give back to the community where I grew up. I started doing free basketball camps for kids and created a summer basketball tournament named the Bannon Park Classic for adults. Knowing how influential athletes and mentors were in my life, I knew I could reach some kids and maybe help them like others had helped me.
Q: Why is helping others so important to you?
A: One of my core values in life is serving. I’ve been working with youth since 1979, and I see the peer pressure, how the world has changed, and how the need for mentors and coaches are at an all-time high. Every kid is important. I have this “save the world” mentality, so I refuse to give up on any kid regardless of the circumstance. It’s always worth trying.
Q: How did the Jeff Lisath Basketball Ministries get started and what is your mission?
A: Jeff Lisath Basketball, Inc., was created in 1979 in Portsmouth. The initial purpose was to give at-risk youth a positive alternative to “street life.” In 1998, our mission evolved to using the game of basketball as a platform for ministry. Our vision is to multiply a fruitful and sustainable ministry around the world. Our values and goals are to share the message of Jesus with non-believers and increase the number of coaches willing to use biblical principles while teaching our youth the game of basketball in a non-school setting. We want to increase team, school and community prayer, as well as build lifelong, loving relationships with those we touch.
We provide free Bibles, backpacks, T-shirts, and hoodies, and offer free youth basketball camps, clinics and public speaking engagements. We also award four, $500 academic scholarships to Northridge and Portsmouth High Schools. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which is financially supported by charitable donations.
Q: How have you used basketball as a platform for ministry?
A: During our summer camps, clinics and tournaments, we have a captive audience. I feel God blessed me with the ability to play and coach the game of basketball for a divine purpose. That is to share my testimony and the good news of a better life in Jesus Christ.
Q: How would you say The Dayton Foundation’s Charitable Checking Account ServiceSM has helped you to help others?
A: The Charitable Checking Account Service is an excellent way of giving to organizations in need. It makes awarding and tracking charitable gifts easy and bookkeeping more convenient. It’s hassle free.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish through this fund?
A: I plan to build on this fund each year so that I may be able to help others in need.
Q: What advice can you share about giving to the community?
A: Follow your heart and give time, energy and money to those who are in need. There are great needs in our communities, and every little bit helps.
Q: How would you complete this sentence, “My giving makes me feel____”?
A: … committed to serving people.
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The Dayton Foundation has been helping people help others since 1921 by managing charitable funds, awarding grants to nonprofits and launching community initiatives. Contact the Foundation at (937) 222-0410 or visit www.daytonfoundation.org.