TGA Sports uses athletics to unlock your child’s scientific curiosity
By Shanee Edwards
Aerodynamics. Newton’s Laws of Motion. Chemical engineering. By themselves, these scientific concepts may sound like a bore-fest to your child. But TGA Sports founder and CEO Joshua Jacobs has a secret to unlocking a child’s scientific mind.
Jacobs knows that when science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are combined with a kid’s favorite sport, suddenly they become eager to learn everything they can because understanding the science behind the game can give them a competitive edge.
Oh, and sports are fun.
A Los Angeles native, Jacobs played golf in high school, college and then in amateur competitive events. He simply couldn’t get enough of the game. So in 2003, when he learned his little sister’s grade school didn’t have an afterschool golf program, he decided to step in.
“I saw an opportunity,” says Jacobs, “so I brought it to her school and the next thing you know, we had 25 schools in L.A. and camps all over the city. I started getting calls from all over the country.”
Jacobs franchised his golf education program, TGA Premier Junior Golf, in 2007.
Eventually, the United States Tennis Association called and asked if he could add tennis to their roster, which he happily did. But by 2010, Jacobs began to see a real need to bring his golf and tennis programs to kids whose families couldn’t afford to pay for them.
“The motto is ‘Sports Change Lives,’ so I started the 501c3 TGA Sports Foundation and we’re just so thrilled to be able to bring sports to everyone in the community. From teamwork to confidence building to life lessons, we really believe that sports can make an impact.”
One year ago, after a call from the United States Olympic Committee, Jacobs stepped up his game and added cheerleading, flag football, volleyball, lacrosse, Ultimate Frisbee and floor hockey to make his programs as inclusive as possible, appealing to both boys and girls. Now, there’s an exciting sport for everyone.
But Jacobs knew he could add another powerful component to his athletic training: STEM.
“We’re the only junior golf and youth tennis program to incorporate STEM into our programs,” he says.
And there’s definitely a need. According to the most recent PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results from 2015, the U.S. ranked 38th in math and 24th in science out of 71 countries. America’s next generation needs all the STEM it can get if it wants to be competitive in a tech-driven global economy.
If you’re scratching your head wondering exactly how STEM works into sports like golf or tennis at an elementary school level, Jacobs says it’s actually a no-brainer.
“Spin, gravity, lift, angles — everything you can think of! You’re going to learn the angle the club goes into the swing and the angle the ball goes off the club. Also, the higher or lower it’s going to go, depending on the angle. The more or less spin it’s going to generate. And lift — everything to do with how airplanes work, basically. Then you’ll look at gravity, the rate at which the ball falls, the angle, how far the ball is going to bound forward.”
There are all sorts of lab activities they do with the kids so that they aren’t just playing sports, they’re beginning to understand how the sport works.
“From a science standpoint, that’s a really great thing for a kid who’s in elementary school to capture. And we’re adding STEM to the other sports as well, launching it this summer,” Jacobs says.
Though the offices of TGA Sports are in El Segundo, Jacobs lives right here in Playa Vista and his programs currently serve Playa Vista Elementary School. He also dreams about having summer camps here, too.
“I’m hoping to launch a weeklong camp that incorporates these academics and athletics,” he says. “We’ve got
some restaurants involved that will provide lunches.”
The only missing piece? An affordable location in Playa Vista. Jacobs says TGA Sports is hoping to work with Playa Vista parks to create an affordable alternative for parents.
“It’s all about providing quality programs for kids that change lives,” he says.
To find out more about TGA Sports, call (310) 333-0622 or visit playtga.com.