Pay to play: Cost of kids’ extracurricular sports

Two-sport “star,” my grandson, Kingston, shooting a basketball during a recent game.
Nine-year-old Kingston on first base during recent game.

Parents are shelling out billions of dollars annually for their kids to play sports. In this “pay to play” society, the U.S. government and private organizations find that the youth sports industry is estimated to be a $15 billion industry.

During a recent @walbtv show, The Breakdown, I provided financial insight on costs associated with children’s sports and also briefly discussed the economic benefits of that community’s homecoming celebrations.


Baseball $659.96
Basketball $426.78
Bicycling $1,011.61
Cross country $420.86
Field hockey $2,124.62
Flag football $268.46
Tackle football $484.57
Golf $925.38
Gymnastics $1,580.28
Ice hockey $2,582.74
Lacrosse $1,289.22
Martial arts $776.51
Skateboarding $380.02
Skiing/Snowboarding $2,248.84
Soccer $536.90
Softball $612.83
Swimming $786.03
Tennis $1,170.09
Track & field $191.34
Volleyball $595.49
Wrestling $476.45
Other sports $1,233.30
Source: Aspen Institute

As a former “Soccer Mom” — aka basketball, baseball, track, golf, skiing, goalball and band Mom — of three children and now as a grandmother of young athletes and scholars, I know well that many businesses that benefit from children’s sports such as:

Sporting goods stores (gear, etc.)

Grocery stores (snacks and drinks per game)

Restaurants (teams’ celebrations)

Trophy stores (ribbons, plaques)

Private coaches

Clinics and camps

Specialized training centers

Gaming centers

Colleges and universities

My granddaughter, Kaidence, a soccer player and extracurricular math and science participant, poses with her favorite Florida State University goalie Brooke Bollinger, during a recent mini-camp.
Posted in Extracurricular activities, Family, Financial, Mental health, Recreational activities, Retail businesses, Uncategorized, Youth sports | Leave a comment

The work of creative students on a scavenger hunt as part of a class assignment — Part 1

From student Jonathan David about his bicycle photo: Significance: Due to limited parking as a result of construction on Florida A&M’s campus, many students have resorted to cycling to campus. Although the hills may offer a workout, you do not have to worry about a ticket!
Tow Away Zone! Unless you’re a cyclist

Teaching digital native students is a welcomed challenge.

The first assignment for two sections of my digital storytelling courses was to complete a scavenger hunt within a 1.5 mile radius in downtown Tallahassee. Other students captured a single image with a caption in a deadline scenario. Both groups performed well.

In all, the assignment is related to field producing. We have book work and discussions to follow.

Here are some of the images from one of my classes. I will follow up this blog with the second set of images from the other class.

Posted in Connect the dots, Digital media students, iGen/Gen Z, Tallahassee, Florida, Unsung 1960s Civil Rights Heroes | Leave a comment

Don’t leave me! North Dakota and Minnesota competing for “my” Southern-bound college students

Photo by on

Are they using their smart phones to shop for schools — colleges and universities?

I’ve been teaching college students for a few decades at schools in Arkansas, Florida and Georgia. The warm weather, relatively low college and university rates, costs-of-living expenses, and the so-called Southern hospitality are among the top reasons why students — like me — love our school and location choices.

Also, southern cities are the primary sites for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) where many Hispanic and Black students have matriculated. As a Clark Atlanta University graduate, I too loved the warmer climate (in comparison to my home state of Nebraska) and cost-of-living attributes. Yet, to boost my career sustainability, I trekked north to Evanston and Chicago, IL to complete a Master of Science in Journalism program, specializing in financial news, at the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University.

IYet, unlike me, it is in the northern cities where an increasing number of minority students are beginning their college education. Due to demographic changes in the population, North Dakota and Minnesota are expected to receive a healthy share of minority colleges in its colleges and universities.

It also helps that, on average, North Dakota’s and Minnesota’s college tuition and fees are low for bachelor’s, associate’s and certificate-seeking students in comparison to the national average. The national data does not necessarily provide an apples-to-apples comparison on college and university costs in each state.

While this study is helpful, you are not able to directly compare the national colleges and tuitions’ averages for an undergraduate education to each states’ figures. The states’ data are grouped together for community colleges, trade, and public and private schools undergraduate and certificate degrees. The national data separates each certificate and degree program related to undergraduate or bachelor’s education.

That’s why I took the available states’ data and compared it to the national colleges and universities’ statistics by averaging all six categories (1st and 2nd year certificates, associate, 2-4 year certificates, bachelor and post bachelor certificate). Using my bargain hunting wisdom, I used those averages to reach my comparison conclusions on the best-priced colleges and universities.

For instance, the average annual cost of a bachelor’s degree nationwide is $7, 934 for in-state residents and $21,201 for out-of-state students. A 2 to 4-year certificate is $4,113 and $14,077 for in-state and out-of-state students, respectively. In North Dakota, the comparisons are $6,608 and $9,845 for the in- and out-of-state students. Minnesota‘s average college costs are $8,004 and $17,223 for the same comparisons.

Connect the dots …

The continual rise in college/university tuitions, fees, expenses and related student loan costs, are causing many smart thinking parents and students to price shop in higher education.

  • This is a perfect time of year to begin planning for the 2020 and beyond years for your choices among colleges and universities.
  • Use the abundant Internet search engine tools to begin your real school shopping.
  • Don’t shop on price alone. Location, ambiance, safety statistics, campus housing, school policies and more should be considered in your final equation.
  • Ask friends, neighbors, co-workers and others by connecting via social media with graduates of your proposed colleges and universities. Get their feedback on and importantly, track where those graduates are working and how they are thriving (or not) in their careers.
  • If it is financially feasible, visit the campuses of the schools you are interested in. While there are many organized college fairs for students and parents, also consider an impromptu or planned visit to the classrooms where you or your child will likely spend the most time in as a prospective major.

Happy school shopping!

Posted in Connect the dots, How to select best college or university, School shopping, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Prayer pouch with a purpose

I was wrongly speaking aloud about another one of those”worse year of my life” moments when my mother gave me a colorful cloth pouch.

I didn’t go to church with her. I told Mom that I had too many things to sort out and that no one would miss me if I did not attend that day’s service. I also told her earlier that I needed additional funds to repair my vehicle and honor the medical co-payments related to my youngest son’s blindness. I was asking for patience, peace and a semblance of a so-called normal life. It was a too-often state-of-mind for me. I craved a change. That was in 1994.

My mother returned from church and was talking over me about how I should place photos, notes with my hopes and dreams, receipts and faith examples of any type. I tried to again interrupt my mother with my lengthy list of needs. I gave up and decided to try her way. After all, I had nothing to lose.

Nothing to lose: That’s a great place for spiritual interference to enter the room. I found myself clinging to the pouch like it was a necessary hand bag or makeup carrier. I still stuff the pouch today with items that are disparate and have individual meanings to me. The remembrances evoke tears, smiles and frowns from the stuffed away memories of the good in my life and the fears.

Several years ago, I heard a sermon by Dr. Barbara King, founder and senior pastor of Atlanta’s Hillside Chapel & Truth Center, about temporary possessions we give power to in place of the real power source — God, Allah and other deities. She spoke of a rabbit’s foot and other items deemed lucky by its owners. Dr. Barbara — as she is known — told the congregation to use until they could gain strength in trusting the true source.

I was in that place. I was a “baby Christian” as my Atlanta area pastor used to call us who stayed in the same spot without spiritual growth. Dr. Leon Hollinshed was among those kind individuals who helped me to get to my greatest place. For that, I am grateful to him and so many others who stood in the gap with prayers during the year my youngest son became blind and our world became a shadow of its former place.

Since 1994, I’ve cherished memories from some funeral programs, happy and encouraging notes, photos of my children in their early years, an usher pin, an airline ticket, donation receipts, name badges and encouraging letters and notes from family members and now deceased friends.

Connect the dots

1. Even if you don’t feel like it, graciously accept a gift of encouragement.

2. Listen to the still, small voice and act accordingly.

3. Believe in prayer.

4. Do something to honor your gifts. I write thank yous to folk who have extended kindness to my family and me.

Posted in Fear, Financial, Good luck charm, Good news, Her-story time, Prayer pouch, Spiritual strength, Stress relief | Tagged | 2 Comments

How to find best bereavement and emergency travel rates when time is not on your side

Don’t fly away from the last-minute travel fares during times of bereavement or emergencies. Compare cheapest travel rates on all websites and avoid the stress.

When my 81-year-old uncle died in Pensacola, FL on the first Friday of August 2019, his next journey of 1,100 miles placed him in our hometown of Omaha, NE. My family members, too, trekked from several states by planes, trains, buses and automobiles to Uncle Sam’s funeral and burial.

Yet, the real trip was wading through the varied policies and rules on bereavement travel discounts. Hunting for bereavement and emergency rates is not your typical fun thing to do, unless you are in the funeral services business or a travel agent. Travel discount discussions about end-of-life are avoided or never conducted.

Part of the reason is that the bereavement, compassion and emergency rates are not easily understandable. It’s stressful enough dealing with trauma associated with a death of a loved one, whether it was immediate or anticipated after a lengthy illness. Add sorting through the tons of different rules by carriers and hotels to achieve discount rates, and it almost becomes unmanageable and therefore, often the grieving travelers end up paying too much for their travels.

Now that my uncle’s services have passed, I’m happy to share what I have unearthed from the latest emergency and bereavement offers among the airlines, buses, trains and hotels. Because of the time-sensitive nature of our travel, I relied on trustworthy blogs such as . It also helps that my sister is a hotel concierge and she guided my logistics.

Don’t cry: It’s personal

Also, most of the carriers and hotels will award the discounts if bereaved travelers are members of its respective loyalty programs. It is helpful to check online for the general policies, yet beware that what is published online may not be the latest information.

Despite my tips and that of others, if the discount travel shopping cause additional stress, choose stress-free living. Cheaper fares are no match for peace of mind.

The journey begins

Amtrak announces on its website that the train carrier offers bereavement rates. It doesn’t. I spoke with two persons from Amtrak and also tweeted a query. It shores up my recommendation to check with each company on its policies. I know it is time consuming during a time-sensitive mourning period.

Another piece of advice is to consider the low-cost offers on sites like Priceline, Kayak, Expedia, Cheap Tickets and more. Compare the travel website rates to the bereavement fares.

Fly away

Delta Airlines, 1-800-221-1212, has a bereavement page on its website that offers answers to most queries about its policy to obtain discounts. Be sure to call Delta if you wish to book a flight at its bereavement rate of 10 – 20 percent. They asked if my relative had a frequent flyer number and thankfully, he did. That is how we yielded a flight at a great rate. You also have to call Jet Blue, 1-800-Jet-Blue, to get discounts for the family members and the mourners attending public services of firefighters, police officers and others in similar professions. Like Delta and Jet Blue, Air Canada, 1-888-247-2262, wants the bereaved to call to finalize details displayed on its website page. The carrier’s bereavement page explains that its policy on discounts for travel and refunds for tickets that were booked at full rates.

Lufthansa offers discounts for the bereaved. In its words, ” In the event of a death abroad Lufthansa offers immediate family members special fares for outbound and return flights to attend the funeral if their journey starts in the USA or Canada. Customers from the USA or Canada are kindly requested to contact their Lufthansa reservations office in the USA or Canada before the start of their trip for further information and to make a booking.” Its number is 1 800 – 645 3880.

Yet, one of my other favorite airlines, Southwest Airlines, 1-800-435-9792, offers condolences to the bereaved and yet does not provide discounts. Frontier Airlines,1-801-401-9000, also does not offer discounts in its fares, yet it has a very liberal refund policy for emergencies that include bereavement.

Check with other airlines and all hotels for special rates and sometimes waived fees for ground transportation and room costs.

Where to lay your head

My family prefers the Marriott hotels and for good reasons. Much like the airlines, if you are members of its loyalty program, the hotel chain offers lower rates for its rooms. Also, similar to the airlines, contact each hotel, compare the bereavement or compassion rates to that of the low-cost airfares offered on travel websites.

Consider other sources

Groupon, for instance, has discount coupons on its websites for low cost travel in times of emergencies. Some ‘plan ahead’ funeral services offer to arrange and pay for travel for the bereaved. My advice is to read the fine print and check the Better Business Bureau, Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection and other oversight agencies for ethical practices.

Even with the best planning and discount rates, flights may be cancelled. It happened to my family. Give yourself extra time to reach destination.

Recap: Connect the dots

  1. Take a breath. Choose mindfulness techniques as sitting in peaceful stillness before planning your travel.
  2. Organize your “proof of death” materials and your relationship to the deceased. If the materials are not readily available to you, the funeral home’s contact information can be used as verification by the carriers, hotels and rental car companies.
  3. Check airline discount fares first and compare it to the bereavement, emergency, compassion rates offered by major carriers and hotels, motels.
  4. Choose stress-free over haggling over cheapest rates. Save your grieving energy.
  5. Remember all of the loving condolences extended to your family or close friend. I offer my condolences and wishes for safe travels.

Posted in Family, Fear, FTC Consumer Protection, Funeral travel, Mindfulness, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

FAMU Reporting and Writing II students’ podcasts … Spring 2019

Students in two courses of Reporting and Writing II were given assignments to produce radio stories that spring from their semester-long news beat coverage.

Among their requirements: Produce an edited 7-minute podcast. It seemed a near impossible feat. Listen and learn. Enjoy!

Ann Wead Kimbrough, DBA, Professor

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Annual FAMU Journalism & Graphic Design Grads are Back programs kick off with powerhouse workshops

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The work of creative students on a scavenger hunt as part of a class assignment — Part 2

They are strong because this trio worked together and mapped their shots.

The second section of my Newswriting & Reporting II course included some powerful work along the route of the scavenger hunt. The students are posting their findings on social media. I grabbed a few to show off how well they completed their assignment.

The assignment is related to the first steps of becoming a field producer. Those qualities are, but not limited to, keen observation, sharp logistics, visual site selection, adherence to deadlines, understanding site significance, editing, writing great synopsis with descriptive language.

Students' work ... works!
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Class in session 8/26-29/2019: Students’ observation/field reporting assignment is a Scavenger Hunt in Cascades Park, Smokey Hollow

Welcome back students!

My RWII classes are learning the power and importance of observation, note taking and more. It’s the baby steps to becoming field producers, researchers and expert writers.

  • Every image in this blog is included in your scavenger hunt.
  • Locate at least five of the images.
  • Indicate location, time and date of photo, location’s historical and/or current significance to the community, who accompanied you on this scavenger hunt and who also discovered the spot.
  • Take a photo of yourself and others (if applicable) from a different angle.
  • Write a caption using AP style, good grammar and suitable for social media usage.
  • I will tell you in class where to send your work.
  • Due: Wed., Aug. 28 and Thurs., Aug. 29.
  • Remember to “R-E-A-P” with creativity: Read, Engage, Attend, Punctuality.
  • Winners announced week of Sept. 3.

All other readers of this blog may participate and share (after 2 p.m., Thurs., Aug. 29) with our class via this blog.

Slug: Scavenger Hunt/Field Producing

The only hint is: The photographers were taken along one of my morning walking routes in Tallahassee, FL or is it Fla. students?

Want to become an expert field producer, multimedia researcher, producer, writer and more? It starts now!
Posted in Broadcast career, Career boosts, Class podcast, Communications careers, Connect the dots, Digital media careers, Digital media students, iGen/Gen Z, Passion, Resumes | Leave a comment

It’s the big things that carry us through life

This image is lasting. There is a direct connectivity between cheering young folk onto their next level and sustained success. Great job, Dads, and the folk who had this idea.

Posted in Family, Good news, Mental health, Spiritual strength, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Journaling to reduce stress and add value to your journey

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