Local nonprofit aims to create positive change after athletics canceled

WATCH: P.U.R.E. gives high school athletes an alternative with SCS sports postponed

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Hundreds of Shelby County Schools high school athletes wondered where they will turn now that athletics have been canceled. One non-profit is working to give them an alternative to violence on the streets.

The founder of the organization P.U.R.E. (Progressing Under Restraints and Extremes), Melvin Cole grew up in Memphis. He’s been to a number of schools and played football, but one day he went to jail for selling drugs.

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“When I was there, I prayed. I said God if you protect me in here, when I get out I’ll go and help all the kids that I can in my city so they don’t go down the road that I went down,” Cole explained.

When he was released, he started P.U.R.E. It’s a local non-profit that helps to keep young men off the streets to create positive change through academics, hard-work and athletics.

“Not having schools, not have sports in the inner city of Memphis is doing far more damage than COVID is ever going to do,” said Cole.

He said his campus on Amey Road is currently holding indoor-social distanced classes and allows athletes to live in the building. They do school-work, agriculture classes and focus heavily on athletics. Cole said the organization is working to build a football field and a sandbox for more organized practices.

Some students have been in the program for 8 years. Athletes like Tevin Carter, the number one quarterback in America and Chris Morris at Texas A & M are currently enrolled in the program.

Now that Shelby County Schools has canceled athletics due to COVID-19, Cole said he’s still moving forward with recruiting young men in the community.

“You shouldn’t create a bigger problem trying to solve a problem. It’s not my job to solve COVID. It’s my job to keep these kids safe, give them a great environment and to get them to college. That’s my job.”

Saturday, September 19 he’s expecting over a hundred young men to try out for his program. He believes it’s probably due to Shelby county schools canceling athletics.

He hoped to give them this positive alternative to help keep them off the streets.