On February 17th, 2010, Project Coach came to Smith College for a day full of activities. At noon, coaches and mentors alike gathered in a carpeted room in Ainsworth Gymnasium for almost an hour of theatre exercises. Sweaty from a late morning round of racquetball, the members of Project Coach staggered into the bright, open room.
Kia, a Smith student, led the workshop. As in ice breaker, she asked everyone to form a circle and pair their name with a movement, which everyone had to remember and repeat. For instance, Kia shouted her name and performed a little dance move, which got a laugh from everybody. With more than twenty people participating in the circle, the exercise became increasingly difficult as more names were added.
Following this brief exercise, two Smith students performed a variety of skits to show different interpersonal scenarios. The first two skits showed the importance of body language in a conversation. Dara spoke harshly to Lauren, but with friendly body gestures. Then Lauren, pretending to be a coach, kept her back turned during an entire conversation with Dara, who acted as a player. Kia highlighted that it is important to look at a "team as a unit, but also to look at the individual."
Kia then posed the question, "What does it take to be a good coach?" A few coaches piped up; Marcus said a good coach must "interact with your kids," and Francesca said it was about "respect...present[ing] yourself strong." Cassandra added that a coach has to be "motivating" and to "look the person in the eye."
After discussing the skits, Kia split Project Coach members into small groups and introduced the next activity. She instructed everyone to repeat three phrases--I believe in you, I love you, and I hate you--using various levels of body language. At first, everyone was only allowed to say the given phrase without any inflection or hand gestures; then the allowances slowly increased. A similar activity followed, in which group members had to take turns reading nursery rhymes with different tones of voice, such as angry, happy, or worried.
With time running short, Kia decided to end the workshop with trust falls. Pairing up randomly, everyone was to take a turn trusting the person behind them to catch their body. Some were able to trust, while others struggled more. Kia, highlighting the importance of this particular activity, ended the hour by saying "players that respect each other play well together."
Once the theatre workshop ended, it was pizza time for all. Project Coach members and mentors alike had worked up an appetite after an hour of exploring the nuances of interpersonal relationships, and especially how these nuggets of wisdom can be applied to the field!
By Molly Ristuccia