Wendell Coates Jr. is setting the standard

Global Not Local organizer Wendell Coates Jr. is bringing the community together through his personal experiences to build a better life for local children.

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Wendell Coates Jr.’s love for the Winter Garden community stems from his soul.

The 33-year-old was born and raised in Winter Garden, as were his parents and their parents before. 

Although it is evident Coates has a strong attachment to the neighborhood, even after moving to Clermont when he was 15, he said the environment his family and friends grew up in wasn’t the best. 

“Just knowing what we deal with over here on a daily basis that people really don’t understand, like the culture, keeps us all connected,” he said. 

Coates said his parents moved him to remove him from the “hood” environment, which included drugs, gangs and violence. His parents kept him focused through school and sports. He played basketball for West Orange High School and throughout college. 

“It’s a lot of temptation you have to deal with — especially as a kid — and if you don’t have any structure at home and you don’t have someone like God in you, then it can easily take control,” Coates said. “Whether you’ve been in it or not, everyone’s familiar with the streets, and you know it’s not a good thing to be in.”

Coates has experienced the effects of the neighborhood first-hand. 

However, throughout the turmoil, Coates’ love for the area and its residents has never faltered. 

“All I’ve ever known is my love for the community,” he said. ‘It’s what keeps me coming back every day.”


Coates came up with the idea for Global Not Local in 2019. When the pandemic hit in 2020, he had the opportunity to sit back, create and expand upon it.

What started off as a clothing brand has since then grown into a pinnacle of hope in the community. 

The organization’s mission is to inspire the youth globally to dream big without limitations and to look beyond their environment by motivating them to continuously reflect on elevation. 

“I had to create something that they [the kids] understand, where they can believe that anything is possible,” Coates said. “I see so much and I know the mentality of the neighborhood kids. If they don’t see it, they don’t believe it.”

A year later, the organizer started a basketball team to continue his mission to inspire the neighborhood kids to look outside the four walls of the neighborhood community. 

He said the players, whom he calls “his kids,” is a “big brotherhood” and a place for the kids to seek comfort, motivation and discipline. 

Coates said basketball helps him to bridge the age gap between him and the kids, and helps him to break down life situations. 

“If you’re a part of something and you’re on a team, then you know you have certain responsibilities and you have to present yourself well in public and in school,” he said. “We help to set a positive standard. Some of my kids don’t have dads, some of my kids don’t have moms, but we’re all of the above for them. It’s just a beautiful thing.”

The team currently has more than 70 kids ranging from ages 8 to 16. 

Coates said he never turns down a kid, even those who have never played basketball, and tries to find a place for everyone to be involved. 

He said he wants to teach the kids to learn from the same mistakes he made when he was their age. 

“Remembering that I was once one of them is my biggest motivation,” the organizer said. “Every feeling that they have, every little trial in their life, I remember being in that exact space so it’s easy for me to coach them through it.”

The team practices twice a week and plays games every weekend, even recently taking their first road trip to Bradenton. 


Coates said music has also been a huge part of building the brand. 

His love for music came from his father, who passed away in 2017, who loved Gospel and R&B. 

“Music is like my therapy,” the organizer said. “Usually people express themselves to me, I don’t express myself to others, so I use basketball and music as my outlets.”

Although Coates said he used to make music about things he had been through, he changed to making inspirational music when he realized the kids were looking at him to create something great. 

He said the kids also love to make music and often have freestyle rap battles. 

“They just can’t curse in the music, so when they’re rapping, they really have to think about what they’re going to say, because they’re talking to their coach, it’s not like talking to your friend, so it challenges them to use words they wouldn’t typically use,” Coates said. 

Coates also is preparing for the organization’s third annual Water Day coming up in the summer. 

He started the event in 2019 to provide a positive outlet for kids in areas impacted by crime and to bridge the gap between the kids and local organizations such as Orange County and the Winter Garden Police Department. 

Coates said he does events for anything he can think of that would benefit the community including backpack giveaways for back to school and turkey drives for Thanksgiving. 

“It’s crazy that I love something so much that I don’t even look for something in return,” he said. “I feel like it’s my job, and I just have to do it for the community and our people.”

Throughout the work, Coates’ relationship with God comes first.

“I grew up going to church, but my one-on-one understanding with God came when I lost my dad,” Coates said. “I buried my dad the same day my best friend was shot, and God helped me pull through that time and other dark times.”

He said his goal is to reach more children. 

“If I can just reach every kid all over the world, just to inspire them to try a little harder, I think our job is done,” Coates said. “Don’t settle for what they try to give you, you have the ability to do whatever you want to do. Don’t give up. Get out of your own way.”


Coates was presented with the Outstanding Citizen Award for his work in the community through Global Not Local at the Winter Garden City Commission meeting Jan. 27.

Coates said the rare award was unexpected and a true “wow” moment for him. 

The team even attended the commission meeting to thank the city for its help and present Winter Garden with a special team jersey. 

Coates said he is most thankful for District 3 Commissioner Mark A. Maciel, who helped him overcome a struggle with the clothing brand being banned in Orange County Public Schools. 

“The School Board thought the clothing was gang-related, because everyone was wearing it and we were creating a huge movement,” Coates said. “They were hesitant to lift the ban, which they did, because they didn’t know me, they just knew my image and my surroundings, so they didn’t understand.”

Although Coates is appreciative of the award, he knows there is still work to do. 

He said his drive for helping the community comes from love. 

“Loving people and being loved, knowing what it feels like to be loved, being able to help someone out — it’s not even a thought for me,” he said. “When I do stuff I don’t look for it. I don’t want recognition. I just do it naturally.”



Annabelle Sikes

News Editor Annabelle Sikes was born in Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 2018 to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated from UCF in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology. Her past journalism experiences include serving as a web producer at the Orlando Sentinel, a reporter at The Community Paper, managing editor for NSM Today, digital manager at Centric Magazine and as an intern for the Orlando Weekly.

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