The COVID-19 pandemic caused great hardship for many people.
Greg Nared turned the pandemic in to an opportunity.
“Because of the pandemic, because we were shelter in place, for the first time in many, many years I felt like I had time on my hands,” said Nared, the 1985 graduate of Wilmington High School whose athletic travels have taken him around the globe.
During his high school days, Nared played in the South Central Ohio League against teams including Hillsboro and McClain.
Nared had four ideas bouncing around in his head: One, an e-commerce business for Goldendoodle, like his own dog Cooper. Two, an online wine business with a couple friends who have wineries in Napa Valley. Third, play the piano.
“As you get older, it’s hard to learn new stuff, but I was so excited about that,” said Nared.
In the end, though, a chance meeting led Nared to write a book. He’ll sign copies of that book, “The Ultimate Assist: Helping Our Kids Succeed in Sports and Life”, from 2-5 p.m. Saturday at Fred Summers Court at Wilmington High School.
“To me it’s amazing how God works,” said Nared, who was in the inaugural class of the Clinton County Sports Hall of Fame back in 1997. “I end up meeting a person who does this kind of stuff, a project manager who works with people who are writing books.”
For Nared, the book started 10 years prior. “I got four chapters in,” he said, adding it was soon moved to the back burner.
When Nared began working for the Dallas Mavericks as senior vice president (Esports, youth basketball, player relations), the book returned to focus. He began writing a blog on youth sports.
Nared met with a publishing project manager and his book dream was back on. In fact, he hopes now he has time to fulfill his idea of writing four or five books.
“The reason I get excited about writing books is I’ve had a journey that has been amazing,” he said. “I think there’s somebody out there I can help. All are inspirational books. This one is a guide for parents to prepare their kids for life after sports.”
And though basketball has been a primary vehicle during Nared’s journey, The Ultimate Assist is not just about basketball.
“This is a book about all sports, not just basketball,” he said. “The club sports … basketball, volleyball, baseball … what are we teaching our young kids. I felt like with my background and experience I should give back. Shame on me for not giving back (sooner). Maybe I can help a parent along the way.”
Growing up in Wilmington, Nared’s path in sports was somewhat cloudy.
“The heroes in my family were military people,” said Nared. “Growing up I thought I would absolutely go in to the military if I didn’t play professional sports. Jerry Cowin, Johnny Cowin, my brother … they’d come home and their uniforms were absolutely perfect. That’s who I wanted to be when I grew up.”
While he didn’t play professionaly, Nared had the pick of colleges to play either football or basketball upon graduating WHS. He turned down Ohio State, Kentucky and others to play basketball at the University of Maryland. He then worked 15 years for Nike, primarily as Tiger Woods’ business manager. After a year of working with Michelle Wie with the William Morris Agency, Nared started his own sports management agency.
In the book, Nared equips parents to support their child’s pursuit of high-level athletic success, while also teaching the art of leveraging the youth sports experience to develop healthy, successful and socially responsible individuals.
Nared raised two highly successful daughters, Jacklin and Jaime, both of whom reached the pinnacle of athletics.
Jaime Nared played four years of basketball at the University of Tennessee then was drafted by the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces.
Jacklin Nared Hairston, currently an assistant coach for the University of Oregon women’s basketball team, was a two-time all-conference basketball player for St. Mary’s (Calif.) University.
“First time going through this with my older daughter, Jacklin, I had no idea … I didn’t have a guide to show me what to do in terms of talking to the coaches, the recruiting process,” he said. “I knew how to work with my daughters, how to prepare them to be good athletes.”
But not all athletes get scholarships or play professionally. Many don’t even get a chance to play collegiately. That in mind, some people don’t know what to do with their lives without sports. Nared’s book tells parents how to begin that process long before their children are faced with that prospect.
“It talks about goals,” said Nared. “Maybe just parent (goals) in general. Having kids at an early age set their own alarm clock. Make their own lunches. Trying to create some structure and discipline in your kids (at an early age).”
In the end, Nared said surrounding yourself (whether you are a parent or child) with the right people can help everyone reach their goals.
“Put in the work and the time and effort, and put the right people around you and you can accomplish what you want to accomplish,” he said.