Subbing for president Matt Rupert, Aaron McDermid introduced our speaker for the day; the third in a series of new-member classification talks: Tim Sicocan.


Tim is originally from a small town on the eastern side of Oregon, which, surprisingly, looks very similar to Arizona (minus the Sahuaros). His first “paid over the table” job, at age 14, was working at a youth summer camp. He had picked strawberries, raspberries, and cherries before that, “paid under the table,” but, ironically, his first “real” job was what the young Tim considered getting “paid to play.”


Tim went to school in La Grande, OR, where he played football for four years, and coached for another three years before moving to Portland to “get a real job.” He answered a Craigslist ad there for a part-time gym assistant for the Boys & Girls Club and was hired as the full-time athletic director for the Trailblazer club (2004).


The club was a bit chaotic and disorganized when Tim arrived, but, armed with a Fox 40 whistle and a big bag of Starbursts, he was able to begin a new culture in the club and steer the kids into more constructive activities. “Trying to restart a culture in that gym took a lot of candy.”


After having four different bosses in two years, Tim volunteered to take the helm. In a city that was 98% white, the Trailblazer club was in a neighborhood that was 95% black; and most of the families never left their neighborhood throughout their lives. So some of Tim’s best highlights were being able to take children who would never have the opportunity to go outside their neighborhood and escort them to Trailblazer games, extreme sporting events, and competitions around the city and around the state. “I always had the mentality that I would take the biggest knuckleheads I could get just to get them out of the building for three or four hours and give everyone else a break.” He also had the opportunity to get his kids into robotics competitions, where they earned awards for sportsmanship as well as for their efforts.


Tim shared a story of one young man from his club who made National Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year. The young man came from a home where he lived with his grandmother, his mother was an addict, his father was a gang banger, and the young man had already been in trouble with the law. He was smart and athletic, but he was behind in school, and had no direction. The club worked with him to get him back on track. When he made his speech for Youth of the Year, he opened with, “Boys & Girls Club saved my life.”


“It’s hard to do that with every kid,” Tim confessed, “but our mission is to do that for the children who need it the most.”