Perfectly arched shots from more than 23 feet away and spectacular, windmilling dunks may get all the press. But basketball’s got much more to offer. The truth is, it’s a great workout. If played properly, basketball provides intense cardiovascular exercise and remarkably efficient agility training. It develops exacting hand-eye coordination and a true feeling of accomplishment. Best of all, participants don’t have to spend a lot of money buying gym memberships or hiring personal trainers. The net down at the park is beckoning, so grab some shoes and a ball and attack the rim.
There are few places in the world more beautiful than a well-constructed golf course. Lush fairways and perfectly manicured greens accentuate the feeling of nature one gets strolling among the trees and waterways that dot today’s courses as hazards to the game. At some courses, the roar of ocean surf is a comforting, relaxing backdrop. At others, cool mountain air and the song of wild birds accompany golfers.
To get started, a prospective duffer will need clubs, shoes, tees and golf balls. Specialized shoes are necessary to help keep one’s feet firmly planted when swinging. Without them, neophytes might easily injure themselves. For a true beginner, the clubs and balls should be of good quality, but there is no need for top-of-the-line equipment. If they can afford it, brand-new golfers should take a couple of lessons to learn the proper swing. Nothing is quite as embarrassing as swinging and missing a golf ball a dozen times before tipping it eight feet down the fairway with the 13th stroke. Of course, beginners will have their problems, but many of them can be avoided with a few, simple pointers.
Learning golf together can be a fantastic team-building experience as friends and colleagues share a few good laughs at the miscues, high-five each others’ successes, and give each participant chances to help each other succeed. The learned skills go far beyond hitting the green in two or draining a 30-foot putt, and the forged relationships can last a lifetime. These new friends and business partners will open up new avenues of networking which, in turn, will provide new opportunities. Even if someone never gets his or her handicap into single digits, learning to play golf just makes good sense.
Requiring little more than a pair of orange cones and a ball, soccer is a game almost anyone can play. Shoes aren’t even a complete necessity, and many fields in the summer are dotted by 10-year-old, barefooted girls and boys enjoying a casual game of soccer. In the United States currently, more than three million children between the ages of 5 and 19 play organized soccer at some level.
Even though youth soccer was popular before Major League Soccer’s first game in 1996, it has grown dramatically in the intervening 18 years. US Youth Soccer works with the league in promoting the development of young players and building outreach programs to find tomorrow’s stars in out-of-the-way places. The economic crises of 2008 temporarily derailed US Youth Soccer’s development strategies as more and more families began struggling. Although soccer doesn’t require much just to play, participation in an organized league still requires a financial commitment.
Since 2010, however, the organization has come on strong, and there are now more than 6,000 separate clubs throughout the country that are part of US Youth Soccer. US Youth Soccer stresses participation above all else and cites the cardiovascular benefits to young people, fostering of teamwork and self-respect, and a sense of achievement as the driving factors behind its recruiting efforts. In some of its leagues, the organization stresses fun over winning at all costs; ensures that every child has playing time; and keeps the environment relaxed and stress-free. Of course, US Youth Soccer also runs ultra-competitive leagues and every other kind of league in between. Also, if a child shows exceptional promise and skills, US Youth Soccer works with the player in developing his or her potential. That child might one day wind up as a player with the U.S. National Team, an MLS franchise or another franchise overseas.
US Youth Soccer is a nonprofit organization, and almost all of its collected funds go toward the sport. In its 55 state-level associations, 600,000 volunteers and more than 300,000 coaches, many of whom are also volunteers, work ceaselessly to instill a lifelong appreciation and love of the sport in America’s youth. The organization is an equal opportunity entity, and children of all ethnic groups are encouraged to participate. After all, soccer is the world’s game.
Alex Perdikis, owner of the Koons of Silver Spring car dealership, finds time to appreciate his Greek heritage. He and his family understand the draw of visiting Greece to explore their European roots. Greece itself offers everything from spectacular beaches on the Aegean Sea to stately ruins that hark back to the very roots of democracy itself. Sports enthusiasts, like the Perdikis family, can enjoy everything from soccer matches to track-and-field competitions in the country’s Olympic stadia. Those travelers just looking to relax can find more than 700 spas and hot springs in which to relax.
Perdikis’ father was in the Greek diplomatic corps, and he built a love of Greece in his son. Born in 1975, Perdikis started life during a time of great upheaval in his homeland. A right-wing, military junta had just been deposed six months before his birth, and Alex’s father was an important man in developing relations with the United States. Because Greece was a crucial member of NATO, and on the front line against the Eastern Bloc, the United States had supported brutal, right-wing governments that were pro-U.S. ever since the Truman administration. The U.S. had also backed the military junta, so diplomacy during a time of re-establishing democracy and trying the members of the junta for their crimes was paramount.
Alex Perdikis learned much from his father in the ways of resolving conflict and has applied those lessons to managing his business. Not only has such knowledge given him a leg up in handling potential problems occurring in his staff, but it has also allowed him to resolve almost every problem his customers have. Indeed, conflict resolution has been, arguably, the most essential skill Alex Perdikis has had at Koons during his tenure. Using that skill, he has led his dealerships to 9-figure annual sales totals, awards and recognition for superb customer service and secure, well-respected places in the community as bastions of integrity.
During the entire time Alex Perdikis has been at Koons, he has both supported nearly two dozen charities. Chief among these is the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and Perdikis has been chosen as a man-of-the-year candidate for the organization in 2014. The specter of cancer has hit close to home for Perdikis because it has affected his wife in the past.
In addition to his work with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Perdikis has been involved with a diverse assortment of other organizations. He has supported cancer research through the American Cancer Society; high-school and college sports through the athletic foundations of Georgetown Prep and the University of Richmond; and the development of critical-thinking skills and citizenship through the Darrell Green Youth Life Foundation. Because of these affiliations, Perdikis supports not only saving lives but also enriching those lives saved. The Ancient Greeks considered philanthropy to be the civic duty of every well-educated citizen and stressed the importance of making it a habit to be productively beneficial to the human race. This love of humanity is one of the most meaningful contributions of Greek culture to have survived through the Dark Ages, Middle Ages, Renaissance and Enlightenment into the modern world.