Whether it’s sitting on metal bleachers at your local ball park, Friday night lights on a high school football field, or watching the bounce of a basketball on the slick wood floors of an old-school gymnasium, the goal typically remains the same, to see your team win.
But for the Birmingham Athletic Partnership, winning goes beyond a number on a scoreboard. It’s what happens in the process. Founded in 2002 by Edgar Welden, the nonprofit was created in response to news that the Birmingham city school system was considering doing away with some of their athletics programs.
Toney Pugh, the organization’s executive director, said Mr. Welden read the news and decided to do something about it.
Since then, the organization, along with their corporate partners, have contributed over three million dollars towards the athletics and fine art programs in the Birmingham city public schools, with $162,000 going toward college scholarships to deserving students.
Pugh said BAP can be described as, “a large booster club for the Birmingham city school system,” which currently supports seven high schools and 18 area middle schools.
From helping students prepare for the ACT, to sending coaches to professional development courses, to purchasing team uniforms, BAP is wide-ranging in its efforts to help both students and coaches alike.
“All successful high school extracurricular programs need additional encouragement and support, and we are here to help with those endeavors” Pugh said.
Pugh knows a thing or two about the impact sports have in a community. A former head coach and athletic director, he started high school sports programs from the ground up at both Clay-Chalkville and Oak Mountain High Schools.
When asked about BAP’s plans for the future, Pugh said the nonprofit hopes to reach more students by creating new sport options within the Birmingham city school system, such as lacrosse and golf.
Pugh says this is significant because it offers more students the opportunity to achieve success in life as they head toward adulthood.
“Athletics are so important in our society. In educational systems, it’s important because it teaches so many life lessons you need to be successful,” Pugh said.
Pugh continued, “…whether it’s dedication, commitment or work ethic, these are things you will need as you get older.”
To learn more about the Birmingham Athletic Partnership, or to donate, visit their website at, https://bapteam.org/about/.