by Michelle Leach

Omaha and B&B Sports Academy have been a winning combination for six years. Led by Omaha’s own Terence “Bud” Crawford and Brian “BoMac” McIntyre, the “B&B” duo’s gym has been churning out exceptional local, regional and national youth boxers. Yet, the Academy’s focus on instilling life skills among its young members outside of the ring doesn’t take a distant second-place to the in-ring skills instilled by world-champion boxers like Crawford, and its array of professional and experienced coaches, trainers, mentors and volunteers.

“Since the doors first opened, it has been a magnet for neighborhood youth and the number of kids we’re reaching continues to grow,” said B&B Sports Academy Board President Jamie Nollette.

“In the last couple of years, thanks to many generous donors, the gym has undergone significant renovations that help us serve more young people.”

The likes of annual “fight nights” featuring local celebrities have gone on to benefit the community-based athletic center’s structured activities for 8- to 18-year-old youth. Reportedly, around $250,000 went toward transforming the gym from a boarded, bricked-up and worn former garage and storage facility into a nearly unrecognizable modern and airy space for its free fitness and boxing programs.

As the Academy celebrated its sixth anniversary last month in an improved space, members are celebrating their own victories since the gym first opened in the North Omaha neighborhood that Crawford and McIntyre called “home” as children, at 31st and Sprague streets.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Champion with Big Heart Gets in the Ring with Youngsters Who Need a Little Coaching in that Game Called Life »

“Our coaches are all volunteers,” said B&B Board Member Kristi Andersen. “Their reward is the transformation they see take place in the kids who come to B&B.” The gym, she said, is truly a sanctuary for some of our kids – a safe place.

“If they have problems at home and need love and support, our coaches are here for them,” Andersen said.

Ary said training at the gym helped him lose weight. Haley credits her newfound self-esteem to the communal support from the trainers. Treven is a promising amateur lightweight.

Despite personal and organization-wide victories, the Academy isn’t resting on its laurels.

“As B&B expands, we’re hoping to offer tutoring and academic support in addition to more training in sports other than boxing,” Nollette said. “We hope our community will help us reach our goals through more … corporate partnerships.”

Leadership emphasized such support is vital, given that – unlike other sports academies – B&B’s services are offered free of charge. Young members put in sweat and study equity; for instance, they’re required to behave positively and maintain their grades. Report cards and progress reports are provided, so the Academy’s staff can better understand how to help and mentor each kid, and to determine their needs (volunteer tutors are available to assist as needed).

“We believe Omaha is a better place when opportunities are available to all children,” Andersen said.

The world welterweight boxing champion himself has helped to put Omaha in the spotlight by defending his title before a crowd of more than 11,000 people at then-CenturyLink Center. Between his own fights, Crawford continues to shine a light on local youth. Even as a homegrown celebrity, he still provides hands-on instruction and coaching to members.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Meet Dwayne Hosey: a Former MLB Player and a Heavy-hitter in our Community »

According to the nonprofit, the founders’ personal and professional “ceiling” wasn’t making it to the top of their sport; it was to open a youth gym in their old stomping grounds. So, the athletes they train today will go on to run B&B in the future, producing champions inside and outside of the ring.

Andersen and Nollette encourage the community to visit www.bandbacademy.org to find out more about the gym, its importance to our youth and how they can support the growth of B&B’s mission.

Moments to Live in

Thrilling competition. Big-time attractions. Outdoor recreation. An energy that flows easily between stimulation and relaxation. Explore, experience, expand your horizons. This place is yours to discover.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

We Don’t Coast – We Play

Have an experience you’ve never had before or visit an old favorite and discover it all over again. String together lots of vibrant moments and create some truly epic memories. That’s the power of play – and we put a premium on it here. The hardest part is narrowing down the options.

Blazing Omaha’s Trails Together for Four Decades

Four Decades of Running Together Make Active Group of Senior Athletes Some of Midwest’s Most Supportive. You’ll know them if you see them: 13 men, mostly in their 70s, lapping Omaha’s Zorinsky Lake. They’re The Running Men, and their group has been on the road together for more than 40 years.

Winter in Omaha – it’s not for the weak.

There’s no denying it – Omaha’s winter is not for the weak. It's not 70 and sunny every day. Our weather goes from 0–60 faster than your boss's Porsche. And we like it that way. We’ve come to the conclusion: The best way to endure it is to embrace it....

Buttoned-down? Not on your life.

Excerpt from 2017 We Don't Coast magazine. Photos by Michelle Bazis and Ben Bazis. For my husband and me, loving where we live starts with loving how we live. Actively. Enthusiastically. On any given day, you can find us riding mountain and dirt bikes with our friends...

Day Escapes

Photos by Ryan Soderlin, Rebecca S. Gratz, Kent Sievers, Eric Francis, Lauritzen Gardens, Kiley Cruse, Matt Miller and Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum Excerpt from the “Omaha: We Don’t Coast” magazine: omaha.com/chamber Daycation stagnation? That's just...

Water Adventures

Photos by Megan Farmer, Kent Seivers and Ryan Soderlin Excerpt from the “Omaha: We Don’t Coast” magazine: omaha.com/chamber Beat the heat with these fun spots on (and in) the water. Botna Bend Park - A favorite of campers and anglers along southwest Iowa's peaceful...