Basketball coach helps students work toward greater good

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.

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

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