WARREN — Michael Engram had a good reason to start the Game Changers organization. He also had good reason not to start it.
He’s glad he went with the former.
Engram is the founder of Game Changers, a leadership and character development program focused on athletes. The 1996 Warren G. Harding graduate knows the pitfalls and problems that can befall high school students and how circumstances can make them hard to avoid.
“My parents, they split when I was 13,” said Engram, who also lost his brother and grandfather not long afterward. “I always tried to find male-driven organizations, which is why I put myself in football. I just wanted to be around the guys. …
“As you get older, you start having questions about your manhood, in respect to how to tie a tie, how to change a tire, all that kind of stuff. So I’ve always had a gap in my life from not having the presence of a consistent male figure. As you’re in high school and you’re going through your years, you don’t really see those gaps until you look back and say, ‘Darn, I don’t know how to do X, Y and Z.’ “
Engram has spent most of his adult life trying to help educate kids on aspects that can often be overlooked.
His organization is putting on an event known as GC-360. Now in its fifth consecutive year, GC-360 blends a number of topics as well as some sports-related drills. The main focus is on helping students understand concepts such as social media etiquette, the truth about scholarships and student loans, the basics of finances and business savvy, along with social and emotional intelligence.
Engram said it’s a 21st-century way of reaching students.
“With Game Changers, we really don’t focus on athletics,” he said. “They’ve got a coach there that takes care of that. I’m more concerned about kids doing something wrong, like posting something they shouldn’t on Instagram, and now their scholarship is gone. …
“We go a little bit deeper with the financial literacy, admissions and how your grades equal to scholarship dollars,” he added. “Like, if you’re on the fence with a 2.9 (GPA). Well, guess what, if you had a 3.0, maybe you could’ve got another $3,000 in scholarship money. Most of them don’t know that. I know when I was growing up, when my parents told me to get good grades, it was just like, ‘Well, that’s what parents are supposed to do.’ On the flip side, if I would’ve known to compute my GPA to dollars, it would’ve turned into something else.”
Speakers from all walks of life will participate in the event, which goes from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. June 29 at Youngstown State University.
The event will include current and former pro athletes, business owners and professionals from several different fields. Engram also said current YSU athletes speak on different topics, such as leaving home for school and how to get through the difficulty of being homesick.
“They can talk about how, ‘I came from out of state, got homesick, but I had a family within my team and that really helped me out,’ “ Engram explained. “It’s for those kids who are thinking about going out of state (for college).”
The event also incorporates times and measurements for the 40-yard dash, vertical leap and the three-cone drill. Breakfast, lunch and a T-shirt are included as well.
The program is for boys and girls. Registration is $35 for those who sign up by Saturday. Cost is $55 from June 2-9. Visit www.wearegc.org to register, or for more information.