Voyage ATL Magazine Feature

Today we’d like to introduce you to Korey Harris.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.

My story isn’t like most here… You see, there is no me without Atlanta, GA. No chance to see the world. No opportunity to impact athletes from across the nation. No chance of making it out of poverty. I truly believe in my heart, ATLANTA INFLUENCES EVERYTHING. Every example of excellence, the hustler spirit, standing for what’s right and just, and beating the odds can be found within the tapestry of GA.

Before my journey even starts, Atlanta was the safe haven for a small 16 years old girl who ran away looking to turn the page on a childhood filled with sexual abuse, poverty, and lack of education. In the ATL, she graduated from Job Core, obtained her GED, and found that her purpose was to help others to overcome their demons. That young woman would become my mother on January 16, 1989. You see… It’s in my veins.

Growing up in Marietta, GA off Windy Hill and Favor Rd in the 90s was different. You learned quickly how to deal with various cultures, perspectives, and challenges. You grow up fast and have to decide quickly if the streets are for you or if you desire more. I lost childhood friends to violence, prison, and other tragedies early, but I also witnessed some of the greatest talent, artistry, intellect, and ingenuity growing through the cracked asphalt in those Savannah Park Apartments. You can’t help but be inspired to want to make change. It was in those apartments that I found a love for the game of basketball playing on a rigged hoop that my friends and I made from stealing Coke crates and melting out the bottom with cigarette lighters.

Fast forward… In high school, I worked multiple jobs to help pay the bills. My hoop dream was still alive but wasn’t a reality. I wasn’t good enough and my mother and I had bigger issues. In the 10th grade, I got a job with an organization known at the time as Atlanta Youth Project where I first got the taste of what it meant to work within the communities filled with families that were just like mine. Those years showed me that the greatest purpose an individual can have is to live a life of selflessness.

Even after HS graduation, I continued to work with AYP, teaching K-5th graders after they got out of school and served as a summer camp counselor. It was there that my boss, Tony Van Dyke, noticed my ability as a teacher and the joy I had when I got to teach the boys and girls basketball fundamentals during recess. It was him that pushed me to form my own LLC and begin taking training seriously. I had just flunked out of college and only had experience as a volunteer youth assistant coach, BUT I WAS HUNGRY. No one could convince me that I could fail.

I started with what I knew and who I already built relationships with from my jobs and volunteering. It didn’t take long for me to gain momentum. I hustled and built my own website, made business cards, flyers, and a YouTube channel using a cheap digital camera with AA batteries. I persuaded local gyms to give me access to their facilities by mopping floors, volunteering and donating whatever resources I could offer. I sat in on local high school team practices and shadowed other coaches even if I had to bribe them with a free lunch. I went from working for free to making enough to pay for gas and the value menu, to having enough income to give up flipping burgers, fixing roofs, and became a full-time entrepreneur in five years.

Student of the Game Training Co. is no different from many other startup business. I’m committed to using hoops as a tool to help youth and professional athletes become better people. What’s different are the forces that drive and have pushed it to last and thrive for over 12 years now. Because of that little 16 years old girl and the city that raised me, the world is being changed one dribble at a time.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?

When I first started S.O.G., I literally only had $200 to my name. I was training neighborhood kids in my mother’s backyard…

I had no experience in how to create a budget, track my income, file my taxes, build a business schedule, or even figure out what to charge a potential client…

I had NO playing experience! Who would trust a coach that NEVER played?!

How was I going to balance my decision to go back to college after starting a biz and building a client base?

How do you keep pushing towards the vision in your mind when everyone around you is telling it’s time to give it up?

Student of the Game Training Co. – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?

Student of the Game Training Co. is a basketball skill development company founded in 2008. As the founder, I’m most proud of the amount of young athletes that have gone on to be the 1st in their families to go to college and the fact that I have been blessed to create a scholarship for student athletes at the same school I graduated from.

The only thing that separates me is CONSISTENCY. I’m not more talented than anyone or more special. I just didn’t quit.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?

Success is measured in the level of impact and influence we have in the world around us.

I’ve got the NBA and Olympics in my vision. I know that the better I can become and more experience I gain as a coach will open more opportunities not just for me but for those in my community that needs hope. I have to push this thing.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

CBA (Chinese Basketball Association), Beijing Royal Fighters, USBA (United States Basketball Association)

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