Lady finds herself standing still in Burke County
DREXEL—After 33 years away from Burke County, Phrantceena Thate finds herself back on her old stopping grounds and making strides to improve the education system in the county while at the same time preserving her late father’s name.
Thate, 49, returned to Burke County after her father, Johnny Thomas Tate Sr., died from a rare stomach cancer early last year. Tate Sr. provided student mentoring and support for student athletes at Drexel Primary School and retired after 50 years of service.
Thate is the owner of a nuclear security company called Total Protection Services Carolinas, which is headquartered in Charlotte.
Through the Coach Tate Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation determined to put community focus on education through sports, arts and music, Thate wants to bring awareness to the importance of sports, arts and music in the education system, as well as fulfill her father’s life-long dream.
“Shortly after he retired he got sick with stomach cancer, and we talked about his aspirations, particularly after retirement, to build a sports complex and to identify a piece of land to build this property for the development of the kids,” Thate said. “He wanted to dedicate the rest of his retirement to the kids, so now I want to help make that dream come true. He passed his blessing on to me.”
Thate said her father was originally diagnosed with stomach cancer in December 2008, but by July 2009 doctors were convinced he was cancer free. She said they took a family vacation to Florida, the first time he’d ever left Burke County, and then she headed back to her home in Charlotte. Shortly after she received a call from her father saying the cancer had come back.
“He wanted to keep it very private so we talked more about the complex and the design he had in mind, and I told him I’d take control of it if he didn’t make it,” Thate said. “We talked about youth development and curriculum and then it was over. He didn’t make it past the planning stages.”
On April 28, 2010, Johnny Thomas Tate Sr. died.
Thate said after more than 30 years of being away it was hard for her to commit to starting this foundation in Burke County, but after seeing the turnout at her father’s funeral she knew she had no other option.
“I went to the funeral, and I saw the kids and the parents, and you could tell how much they loved him, and I knew then I couldn’t let his dream die,” Thate said. “I saw the kids and their parents talking about the effect my dad had on their lives, how they were troubled kids, but when my dad came into their lives they became manageable kids and academically sound students. I could see what an impact he’d made and why this foundation was so important to him.”
Thate said she, with the help of her peers, formed the foundation quickly after her father’s death, because she “just knew what (she) had to do.”
She said one of the main goals of the camp was to teach kids a sense of self, something she had learned, and something her father had seen as a necessity in these kids’ lives.
“The knowledge of self, of the gifts you have inside of yourself, as well as teaching you how to win as a team, how to play as a team, and how to know yourself and your capacity are things we wanted to focus on with this camp,” Thate said. “There are a lot of broken families where the kids aren’t getting that, and I think that is how he was able to fill that gap. These kids didn’t have the care and love they needed, and I think my dad helped provide that to them. I think that’s the missing piece, and I think that is why he became a father figure to these children.”
Thate said she went through her own personal journey in 2004 and that that journey not only helped mold her into her true self, but also prepared her for running this foundation.
She said she changed the spelling of her entire name that same year from Francina Tate to its current spelling Phrantceena Thate. She said she has a friend who works in the sciences that introduced her to the concept of changing the spelling of your name in an effort to attract positive energy.
“I was going through a personal journey of understanding my past, present and future, which I needed to do,” Thate said. “And a part of that was balancing my name. You use the letters of your name so that you attract more positive energy. It’s amazing to understand the principles and for me it’s been a tremendous change in energy.”
Thate said after finding her balanced rhythm in life, she was able to fully understand all of the things she’d need to take on the responsibility of this foundation. She said she hopes her work with this foundation will help fix the currently “broke” education system.
“Our education system is broken world-wide, and we look forward to developing a curriculum that gives an alternative way for these kids to learn these vital skills and core values they need in every day life,” Thate said. “The system that is currently in place is flawed, but our proposal with the foundation is to take what they have now and try and fix it as much as we can, to work with the school system and make a change. The kids seem to be very responsive to this type of learning and it will only get better.”
She said studies she’s seen have shown that sports, music and art help student excel academically.
“A lot of studies have been done that prove sports, arts and music help students graduate faster and at the top of their class academically,” Thate said, “and they become productive immediately in the workforce.”
She said her hope for the foundation is that it will bring about local and even statewide change in the education system, as well as revive Burke County’s communities.
Having the opportunity to create jobs and revitalize the community also is a great asset to having this foundation in Burke County. We want to see the revival of this community,” Thate said. “I’d love to see this town come back to life, and I think fundamentally we have the right things to hit the reset button and bring the attention here and keep it on Burke County.”
Thate said this project left her with two goals: revitalizing the community and pushing for a better and stronger education system in Burke County.
“You have to be bigger than yourself if you are going to make a positive change,” Thate said “It’s not about making money, it’s about rebuilding the community and strengthening our children’s futures.
The foundation is sponsoring a football camp this week at Draughn High School. It kicked off with a motivational speech from Stedman Graham and is led by players for the Washington Redskins.