David Bowden knows that most keiki taking part in his Performance Speed Enhancement Camp this week will never run on a 400-meter relay team.
Still, he sees plenty of value in teaching them how to properly hand off a baton. His drills require proper footwork and hand-eye coordination. They require individuals to come together as a team to accomplish a goal. And, perhaps more importantly, they require discipline, focus and an ability to follow directions.
“Desire creates power,” said Bowden, who is affectionately known as “Coach.” “That’s what I’m trying to instill: that desire in each one of these young people so that they can be the best that they can be, no matter what. Sort of balance the individual out. Discipline is something that you give to someone. If you give them a little discipline, when they get in the classroom, the learning process will be much easier.”
Bowden was inducted into the Florida Track and Field Hall of Fame for his successful coaching career. Since moving to the Big Island nine years ago, he’s been happy to continue passing along his knowledge.
“I’ve been doing it for so long. I try to nurture each one of them. Just give them the tools that they can grow and develop with,” Bowden said. “Self-confidence is one of the key things that we try to instill.”
That was evident as he worked with keiki at Old Kona Airport Park on Wednesday afternoon. He watched a young boy struggle with a footwork drill he was attempting for the first time.
“Good try, good try,” he told the boy.
Bowden patiently showed him how to do it again. When the child got the hang of it, Bowden beamed with pride.
“That’s it!” he said. “Now we’re talking!”
Bowden brought some of his famous friends along with him — Pro Football Hall of Famer Rayfield Wright and former professional boxer Earnie Shavers. Each spoke to camp attendees about how to be successful in sports and life.
Wright was a football teammate with Bowden at Fort Valley State University in Georgia, and he wanted to join his old friend in Kailua-Kona to help young people.
“Coach Bowden has done a tremendous job with the young kids here,” Wright said. “He is committed. He’s dedicated, to work with young kids to help them understand how to work to become something in life, no matter what it might be. To help them keep their focus and not look at all the other things that are outside. To help them with their commitment to do the very best that they can do.”
Shavers has known Bowden for several years and, like Wright, enjoys working with young people.
“When I came along, a lot of guys gave me advice to apply to my life, and it worked for me. It changed my life completely,” Shavers said.
There’s a good chance that Wright and Shavers could join Bowden for another camp next year. In fact, Wright told attendees that he hopes to see how much progress they’ve made when he returns next year.
“It’s going to get bigger and better,” Bowden said. “Rayfield Wright … he’s going to bring in more Hall of Famers next year. Just to share, meet and greet these kids, plant a seed in them that they can do and be anything they want to be with hard work and dedication.”