WHITTIER – Jesse Carmona recalls his disappointment last summer after hearing news that former NFL running back Lawrence Phillips was in trouble. Phillips, 31, a star at Baldwin Park High School as a teenager, had been arrested Aug. 21, 2005, for allegedly stealing a vehicle and days later driving into three teenagers who had gotten into an argument with him after a pickup football game. It was not the first time Carmona had heard of athletes’ troubles. “If Lawrence could have gone to college \, he would have been better. I’m getting tired of seeing too many kids not making it in life,” the 47-year-old Whittier resident said. Now, Carmona is on a mission to make sure young athletes understand that sports and academics go hand-in-hand. Talent won’t get anyone far if he or she lacks discipline and maturity, he said. Seven-year-old Garrett Bowe of Whittier has attended the local clinics every week since July 10. “You learn mechanics and how to improve your game. You stay focused and you have to pay attention, so it helps me learn on the field and in class,” Bowe said. Lyle Dodd of Whittier enrolled his two sons, Jacob, 12, and Noah, 10, in the clinics to help keep them active during the summer and to enhance their athletic skills. Dodd, a teacher, also has teamed with Carmona to serve as an academic resource for students. He said he’s often sat with students in the dugout during youth baseball games and helped them with their schoolwork. Carmona hopes Whittier Baseball Club motivates students to hone their athletic and academic skills for larger goals. His Web site also will connect athletes with information about pursuing a higher education, including getting financial aid and scholarships. “I see too many good athletes not accomplish their goals,” Carmona said. “Eighty-five percent of these kids don’t go on to college because … They don’t know what they need to do to get there.” “This opens kids up to all the opportunities life has to offer,” Dodd said. “They start to see school and sports as a vehicle to get somewhere, to do something with their life.” [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3024160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2He’s teamed up with youth baseball organizations, coaches and parent volunteers to launch the Whittier Baseball Club, an organization to help children with good athletic skills while having an emphasis on education. Whittier Baseball Club is also an online network resource for other baseball players and coaches. The club’s Web site – www.whittierbaseballklub.cjb.net – helps young athletes access information about baseball clinics and other sporting opportunities in their area, Carmona said. The nonprofit group is hosting a baseball clinic for all ages. Baseball players who join Carmona’s workshops at Joe Miller Field, 7630 Washington Ave. in Whittier, pay $15 per day to be part of the Monday and Tuesday clinics, which end Aug. 8. Attendees participate in drills with athletic specialists, incorporating everything from rapid footwork and reflexes to strength-building exercises and discipline. But the focus always returns to students’ performance in the classroom. “If you could achieve these things on the field, why not in the classroom?” said Carmona.