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'It's A Family': Focused Athletics Helping Philadelphia High Schoolers Achieve Athletic, Academic Success

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- For the past five years, Focused Athletics has been helping student-athletes in Philadelphia achieve success not only on the field, but in the classroom as well. With the goal of reaching the next level, but with the current COVID-19 pandemic, they have been forced to adapt.

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"It's a family," Howard University running back Dedrick Parson said. "Anything you need, help with anything from SAT prep to just life."  

Jackson Duncan is the founder.

"We are a Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization providing free academic athletic and professional development to student-athletes in Philadelphia," Duncan said.

Two key components of the program are SAT prep and group workouts. On Wednesdays, the more than 50 enrolled students would gather at 19th and Market Streets for tutoring.

On Saturdays, they'd sweat together at Sweat Fitness in Center City.

Duncan says since they can't get together, they have turned to the internet.

"We actually made the transition to tutoring on Instagram Live," Duncan said. "Different tutors will sign up, kids will come in and they really are working hard. We've been able to send almost $2,000 worth of protein powder, cleats, everything out to young men to reward them for working hard during tutoring."

(credit: CBS3)

Another way Duncan is keeping current and former students inspired is a challenge, this in the name of Kristian Marche.

The 18-year-old track star and Focused Athlete was murdered just days before he was scheduled to attended Penn State University. Ebony Parris and Dedrick Parson are taking part to honor and remember their friend.

"He would be in a room and you know he's in the room," Parris said. "Like, just his infectious personality, his joking, his laughing. If you know Kristian and you've seen him run, like he was it. He was gonna be it. He was fast."

"He was different," Parson added. "He was probably the fastest person I ever seen run. Like literally, he could just play around with it and still beat you. He was that fast."


As part of the Kristian Marche Challenge, participants can win a $200 gift card for the fastest mile and for the most miles logged.  

To participate in the Kristian Marche Challenge, download the NikeRunning app on your phone and send your phone number to the @focusedathletics215 Instagram account to be added to the group. 

To learn more about Focused Athletics, click here.  

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