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Million dollar babies Sgt. Zachary Gardner

Students from the installation’s Youth Boxing Academy practice line drills at the SKIES Unlimited Youth Academy April 2, 2013. The class helps children gain confidence through boxing. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Zachary Gardner, 17th Public Affairs Detachment / Released)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – It looks like a gymnasium – high ceilings, a wood floor, the smell of sweat – but it’s more. It’s a house of discipline, of pride and within these four walls every sentence ends with, “Yes coach!”

The Joint Base Lewis-McChord Youth Boxing Academy is more than just a school of hard knocks; it’s a place where students learn about life through boxing. It teaches them how to focus, be accountable, responsible and reliable through a solid regiment of conditioning drills, pad work, sparring and push-ups… lots of push-ups.

“What does boxing have to do with paying attention?” asked Lydell Spry, a boxing coach at the JBLM Youth Boxing Academy. “If you don’t pay attention in boxing you are going to get caught with some shots, some serious shots.”

Boxing builds confidence and character. Unlike most athletes, boxers learn self-defense while they train.

“We have a girl here and it’s her second day,” Spry said. “When she first got here, she wouldn’t say one word. That was yesterday. Now, she is responding very quickly and interacting with the other kids.”

Service members come from all walks of life, and so do their children. With so many different backgrounds in the community, it can be difficult to find common ground. In a room full of people doing push-ups, the ground is pretty easy to find.

“Boys and girls need to learn how to get along with each other,” said Spry. “I call it cross-pollination.”

The JBLM Youth Boxing Academy is part of the Schools of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills Unlimited program. SKIES Unlimited also offers military children the opportunity to explore art, theater, music, dance, karate, and gymnastics.

“Our academy is a place where students can develop athletically and academically,” said Donna Atkinson, an instructional specialist at SKIES Unlimited. “It allows for the mentorship of the students and exposes them to activities that they wouldn’t normally be exposed to.”

For more information on the JBLM Youth Boxing Academy contact Coach Lydell Spry at 360-250-3598 or


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This work, Million dollar babies, by SGT Zachary Gardner, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.

Date Taken:04.09.2013

Date Posted:04.09.2013 12:29



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