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Northeast News

Former NFL player helps kids develop character, fitness in New Tampa

Special correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: March 26, 2013 at 10:46 AM
NEW TAMPA -

Linda Olson's twins, Kenny and Gracie, are enrolled in the PROtential Sports afterschool program for their fourth year.

“I can't say enough good about it. My kids have never in four years said they haven't wanted to go,” said the Tampa Palms' mother of two Chiles Elementary third-graders. Both children are transported after school to the Tampa Palms Country Club, one of four sites in northeast Hillsborough County where the program is held.

“I love the fact that they are outdoors having physical activity and even more importantly are being taught life skills,” said Olson, noting that before enrolling them she'd also looked into other popular afterschool options for her children.

She'd hoped to also send them to the PROtential Summer Camp but the family is moving to California, where their father, Greg, has accepted a job.

Both programs were founded in 2004 and are operated at local country clubs by former Minnesota Vikings receiver Tony Bland, 40, and his wife, Nyree, a former professional tennis player. In less than 10 years they've served close to 2,000 children between the ages of 5 and 13.

They offer a range of sporting activities including soccer, football, baseball, basketball, golf, tennis, lacrosse and swimming, depending upon each facility's accommodations.

The coaching staff of former professional and collegiate athletes, in addition to teaching sports fundamentals, also focus on building character by focusing on respect, honesty, teamwork and discipline, Bland said.

“They are chosen to inspire a child to become an all-around good person by developing an active and healthy lifestyle,” said Bland, who was raised in St. Petersburg, graduated from Pinellas Park High School and accepted a full scholarship to Florida A&M University.

He credits his grandmother for instilling those same values in him. They are qualities, he said, that have benefitted him throughout his entire life.

“I had tons and tons of opportunities to stray away from doing the right thing but my grandmother (who raised Bland) gave me a fine foundation,” Bland said.

Dr. Nellie Chambers of Cory Lake Isles has had all three of her children in the program.

“I love that the kids can be active and at the same time be building character and learning strong values,” Chambers. “The coaches are very good and it's a good atmosphere.”

PROtential summer camps begin June 10 and run through Aug. 16. The hours are 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and the cost is $125 per week.

Area sites include Heritage Isles Golf & Country Club, Tampa Palms Country Club, Seven Oaks and Grand Hampton.

The 2013-2014 after-school program starts Aug. 19 and runs through June 1, 2014. Registration begins in July and the weekly cost is $75.

Visit www.protentialsports.com or email Bland at coachtony@protentialsports.com for more information about the programs as well as franchise opportunities.


Joyce McKenzie can be reached at JoyceCMcKenzie@gmail.com.

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