Mike Smith: Drumming up discipline

Mike Smith (Our York Media)

Achance suggestion about 20 years ago changed Mike Smith’s life, and thanks to that, he’s changed the lives of hundreds of kids. 

Mike directs the Temple Guard Drill Team, a mentoring program that teaches students from grades K-12 discipline through a military-style boot-camp drill. They perform their marching and dance routines, set to drums, around the area several times a month. 

Mike knows what it’s like to have it tough growing up. But he turned his troubles into something positive. 

“I wound up getting into trouble years ago – product of my environment,” he says. “I realized I wanted to make a difference.” 

“No amount of money could ever amount to the feeling I get on a daily basis of seeing the light come on in our youth.”

Mike was studying to be a deacon when he felt God calling him to start a drill team. He took a chance and has never regretted that he listened. 

In 20 years, Mike has taught students in the Temple Guard Drill Team discipline with the last 10 years at YWCA York. It keeps them out of gangs and in the schools, but what he loves most is how they each grow from their experience. 

“It inspires them, let’s them know what they’re worth, and they just fly like the eagles from there,” Mike says. “You’ve got your introvert that comes in shy, and you see their spirits change, and they’ll be able to perform in front of a bunch of people. It just builds self-esteem and confidence.” 

For Mike, directing the team and working with the YWCA youth has become a full-time job, another thing that amazes him daily. 

“To be able to do something that you would do for free and turn it into a living, it’s not even like work for me,” he says. “I get inspired every day. No amount of money could ever amount to the feeling I get on a daily basis of seeing the light come on in our youth.” 

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