Joe Mize: Influence through kindness
Joseph Mize, a collegiate athlete, coach, sports fan, and advocate for youth sports had a significant impact on many of the young athletes he connected with throughout his life, as evident by the letters his wife, Maura has received since his passing. “I have received beautiful messages from people all over the world telling me how much Joe meant to them, and how his
kindness influenced their lives,” says Maura.
Joe and Maura lived in Lake Charles, LA, where they settled after graduating from college. He loved all sports, but basketball was his favorite. Joe played collegiately for UNC Asheville and started coaching kids in an AAU league soon after they moved to Lake Charles. He was committed to making sure kids from all socioeconomic backgrounds had an opportunity to play, and became very involved with families from all over the city. Maura and he often volunteered to pick some of the kids for practice, recognizing that it was a challenge for some parents to get their kids to the gym. When his team made it to AAU nationals in 1999, Joe raised $10,000 in two weeks to make sure every player could travel to Florida for the tournament. The funds covered meals, travel, and passes to Disney World, as some of the players had never been on a family vacation and Joe wanted it to be an amazing experience for all.
“I have received beautiful messages from people all over the world telling me how much Joe meant to them, and how his kindness influenced their lives.”
As a young athlete at UNC, Joe appreciated the kindness he was shown from local families who had him over for dinners and wanted to pay that kindness forward to young athletes in the Lake Charles area. When Joe’s son, Matt, became a ball boy for the local college basketball team, the Mize’s treated many of the players like family, inviting them to Sunday dinners that Joe himself cooked and loaning them their car when needed. “Joe loved kids. And he got so much joy from having them over to the house and cooking large pots of chili and gumbo. He loved Karaoke and we always had music playing. We constantly had a house full of kids and it meant so much to him knowing he was giving these kids a place where they felt welcome.”
This past year, after the extreme hurricane season caused damage to their home, the Mize’s decided it was time to move out of the area, giving them a reason to move back to Joe’s hometown of Knoxville, TN. He immediately fell back into the friendships he had made through sports as a kid, attesting to the powerful social connections that sports can bring to someone’s life. Sadly, Joe passed away shortly after reuniting with his childhood friends, who have now become a support network for Maura at this time.
When the family gathered to celebrate Joe’s life, they decide to honor his wish to see all kids have the opportunity to play sports, no matter what their socioeconomic status. “We searched for nonprofits and thought Every Kid Sports was a wonderful way to honor Joe.” Donations in honor of Mr. Mize will give several children the opportunity to participate in sports this year, and Every Kid Sports appreciates the privilege of carrying his legacy of kindness forward.
– The Every Kid Sports team