St. Louis Police Lt. Col. Leyshock known for dedication as coach, mentor

Lt. Col. Leyshock explains how Police Athletic League graduates include MLB, NFL and world-title boxing talent, along with some talented chess players.

Debbie Monterrey
September 19, 2019 - 4:46 pm

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Lt. Col. Gerald Leyshock has been with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department since 1980, but for several generations of St. Louis children, he may be better known as a coach and mentor.

Leyshock is part of the Police Athletic League (PAL) where police officers volunteer as coaches for kids in various sports. Not only does PAL offer young people in the city a positive environment, it also gives them and their parents an opportunity to know police officers in a different light. Participants have to maintain good grades and stay out of trouble to stay on a team.

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"The camaraderie is the biggest thing," Leyshock explains. "And not just with the kids. It gets parents who might be a little skeptical of police officers to see how we interact with the kids. It’s really important that we have strong relationships with those parents who are bringing their kids to our clubs."

Over the years, a number of PAL athletes have used the experience as a stepping stone to other athletic pursuits. He points out PAL graduate Devin Williams, who just this season pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers in Busch Stadium against the St. Louis Cardinals.

“We’ve got Major Dan Howard’s son, Brian Howard, he’s pitching in AA and has been up to AAA for the Oakland Athletics,” says Leyshock. “Three PAL graduates are in the NFL and one of our boxers that I was with the whole time fought for a world title, Deandre Latimore.”

PAL offers a variety of sports and activities. The latest? Chess.

“You can’t believe the number of St. Louis schools that have chess clubs,” marvels Leyshock. “We’re trying to get police officers to get in there and play. Me, personally, I’ve been going to the Hogan Correctional Center for Boys on Fridays, and that’s really different. Everyone’s really happy when I’m getting beat, but when I’m winning, everybody’s really somber!”

Participating on a PAL team doesn’t cost the youth athletes or families anything, thanks to the generosity of a number of corporate sponsors and a variety of fundraisers, like the annual PAL boxing event that usually sells out. Citizens can sponsor an athlete for about $100 per year.

Hear Lt. Col. Leyshock’s full interview with KMOX's Debbie Monterrey at the top of this page.

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