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Akers: A leader on and off the court

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Akers aims to pass her love of learning to children

By Becca Owsley

Getting to know Mallory Akers: 
Favorite music: A student of music, she likes all kinds.
Sibling: One older brother
Favorite movie: “Mulan”
Sports: The University of Kentucky is her favorite team, if she had to pick one.
Favorite books: She likes Nicholas Sparks books, the Twilight Saga and Hunger Games series.
Hobbies: She really doesn’t have time for hobbies.
Favorite school subject: Science
Job: Subway

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Mallory Akers is a busy 17-year-old. Her days are filled with school, band, work and volunteering at her church.

The senior at Central Hardin High School spends some of her winter working with a kindergarten basketball team at First Baptist Church of Sonora.

It’s her second year of coaching and there are six children on the team.

The main goal is to teach them to pass, dribble and shoot. At least that’s the plan, she said.  

The kids don’t always understand they are on opposite teams, she said. A few weeks ago one of the kids on her team gave the ball to his friend on the other team because he thought it was their turn to shoot.

“It was really cute,” she said.

She said many kids tend to shoot at the wrong goal.

Sometimes she sees a child grow during the year. One of the players last year didn’t want to participate and would often stand by Akers and not play. To get her to play, Akers and other coaches had to go out on the court and play with her.

This year, that child is still a little timid but Akers has observed her playing and actively participating in the games.

It’s those types of things that Akers said makes her feel good about what she does.

But she also teaches the children Bible lessons, which she feels is the more important part.

“If you go though life and you don’t know how to play basketball you’ll be OK, but if you go through life and you don’t know about God, that’s not OK,” she said.

She hopes to use her skills learned though coaching basketball in a future elementary school teaching career.

The experience has helped her learn how to talk to children and given her some skills in dealing with parents who might get frustrated, she said.

“I get to learn how to speak to the kids and grow in a personal relationship with them,” she said. “I’m not very good with adults and more of a kid person.”

For four years she has volunteered with her church’s Worship KidStyle, a children’s worship program. She said she’s crowd control on Sundays for the group.

“I’ve always loved learning and I’ve always wanted other people to have the love for learning like I do,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons I like helping out with this (basketball) program and kids worship at church, to help them learn how to love learning.”

Akers’ youth minister Andrew Hillard said she is a “leader among her peers” who leads by example and with conviction.

“She is one of the first to welcome in new members and she sets an example for others in the group with her dedication and involvement,” she said. “Mallory knows what she believes, why she believes it and she isn’t afraid to stand up for what she knows is right.”

When the church launched the children’s basketball league, Akers was the first to sign up to help, he said.

“She is always ready for practice and works hard to teach the children the fundamentals of the game,” he said. “She comes to practice with a great attitude and is a patient teacher, which is obviously important when trying to teach 5-year-olds to pass a basketball.”

Outside of her volunteer work at church, Akers is active in band and science activities at school.

With a love of music she was in band her first two years of middle school but not in eighth grade.

“I learned what I loved once I lost it,” she said.

She decided to go back into band her freshman year in high school and stuck with it. She is a section leader in the CHHS band, plays the mellophone in marching band and plays trumpet in concert band.

While she hated science as a kid, she loves it now and is the president of the Science Honors Society.

But above all else, she said, her faith is the most important aspect in her life.

“Everything I do is for God, not rewards,” she said. “I can’t be a good teacher to them or teach a simple game of basketball without Him.”

That faith is something Hillard noticed.

“To me, the great thing about everything that Mallory does to serve the church and the community is that she doesn’t do any of it for the attention of others,” he said. “She just does it because she loves God and loves people."

Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.

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