OCEAN CITY – An Ocean City native with strong ties to the resort last week was named one of the Institute for International Sport’s 100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America, joining such legends as Cal Ripken Jr., Mike Krzyzewski, Bill Russell, John Wooden and Tiger Woods, just to name a few.
Ocean City native Fred Engh, founder and president of the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS), was chosen for the prestigious list based on his 40 years as a leader advocating the effective use of sports as a means to educate children. Engh’s impact on youth sports as a means to educate have been felt all over the world with the programs and opportunities he has created as founder and president of NAYS, but among his greatest accomplishments are the projects he has created in the Ocean City area where he raised his children, some of whom are carrying out his missions in the resort area still.
Every year, Engh and NAYS hold the Sammy Wilkinson Memorial Golf Tournament and the Jam for Sam benefit in Ocean City. Sam Wilkinson was Engh’s grandson who died tragically several years ago when he fell through the ice at a pond at Northside Park in Ocean City. Engh’s son Darren and son-in-law Bob Wilkinson, Sam’s father, make up the popular acoustic duo Opposite Directions.
As an outcropping of his work as president of NAYS, Engh recently founded the Global Gear Drive, a program that collects new and used sporting goods and distributes them to less fortunate children around the world, Under Engh’s direction, with the help of Wilkinson and others including the local school system and Recreation and Parks Department, truckloads of used sports equipment with a lot of life left in it has been collected locally and distributed all around the world.
Engh also established the Game On! youth sports program, which has had a major impact in countries throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and the Caribbean. The Game On! program focuses on providing children around the world with organized sports programs and the equipment to play them so they can experience healthier lifestyles with less chance of negative influences affecting them.
Fred Engh’s inclusion on the Institute for International Sport’s 100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America speaks volumes about his presence in the field of youth sports. Among his colleagues on the prestigious list are Andre Agassi, Cal Ripken, Jr., Mike Krzyzewski, Bill Russell, John Wooden, Tiger Woods, Bob Costas, Billie Jean King, Joe Paterno, and Jackie Joyner-Kersey, just to name a few.
Engh said this week he was humbled to be included on such a list and thanked the Institute for recognizing the contributions of the honorees on youth sports in the U.S. and throughout the world.
“It is wonderful that the Institute for International Sport has chosen to recognize all the incredible individuals on this list and the great work they do to benefit children,” he said. “Youth sports have the amazing power to impact a child’s life in so many areas, and we all share the responsibility to make sure each child not only gets a chance to participate, but that their experience is a safe and rewarding one.”
The idea for putting together the prestigious list arose after the Institute for International Sport staff discovered a common theme while compiling survey results among coaches and athletes. Many of the subjects continually referenced the many life lessons learned through sports participation, such as teamwork, self discipline, fair play and diversity.