We are a youth football and cheer program for kids. We are located on Route 1 in Alexandria, Virginia 22306. We are located at Gum Springs Community Center and our name is Gum Springs Youth Athletic Association (GSYAA).
The name of the "Thumbs Up" Memorial and Award originated at Long Branch Elementary in Arlington, VA. Rocky Belk loved Long Branch and was immensely proud of the work he did during his 10 years there."Thumbs Up" was his way of using a universal symbol as encouragement to the hundreds of children he uplifted every day. Seeing the joy and empowerment the children of Long Branch got from a simple thumbs up inspired Rocky to bring the same encouragement to the children on the GSYAA.
Born and raised in Gum Springs, Rocky persevered on the field and in the classroom. Through his talents and determination he utilized every opportunity available to succeed. After working towards and achieving a career in the NFL and obtaining two master’s degrees, his knowledge and experience put him in the perfect position to return to his community and affect it for the better. When presented with the chance to be commissioner of the GSYAA he was truly honored.
Rocky personally knew the financial struggles of the families in the area, and was understanding of the needs of the community. The message he wanted to get out into the community was that poverty is not an insurmountable disadvantage, but rather an experience that can make you more focused on what really matters in life. Advocating the importance of a supportive family and a good education in the development of the children of the GSYAA brought amazing results. Families became involved in the organization in every way-- volunteering, coaching, tutoring etc. As a result, the children of GSYAA were more empowered knowing that their families were behind them 100% and supporting their dreams of success. Supporting their athletic and academic growth was Rocky’s way of reaching the youth of his community and giving them the same opportunities as everyone else, regardless of their financial standing.
A pillar in his community, Rocky’s life represented the spirit of perseverance, selflessness, community, and leadership that we hope to see reflected in young people everywhere. This memorial was established to remind all the youth to pursue the hopes and dreams that Rocky encouraged them to have.