Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Relationships Across the Years-- What PC Means to our Teen Coaches

By Matt Samolewicz, Project Coach Fellow, 2010

What does it mean to coach? To Teach? Many of us are familiar with the athlete or student perspective, but what does it mean to be on the other end? Twenty three Springfield high school students are learning to take on the role of “coach” and with it, all of the pressures and rewards, as part of Project Coach.
This past Friday, October fifteenth, my mind hummed with a weeks full of preoccupations as I made my way to Gerena Community School’s cafeteria. Waiting for me, as almost always, were four of Project Coach’s high school coaches. I sat down and into a conversation that sprung me from all internal griping. Two of our returning coaches were observing a group of fifth grader players whom they have known for the past four years:
“We have seen these kids grow up. I mean, we have seen them grow,” said one coach.
Coach Tyree (4-year veteran) demonstrating the web of community
“I know! I can remember these kids when they were in first grade! Now look at them.”         replied the second coach.
“I remember what that was like,” said the first coach, “do you?”
This kind of conversation comes from an aware eye, an empathetic soul, and a teacher who is willing to learn from their students.   As I listened, the weight of the shared recognition seemed to pull on every conception I had made in our first five weeks. The students were not only considering the growing athletes as individuals, but as part of a larger context, one that is ever-changing and unpredictable. They were seeing “the bigger picture,” the one I had been trying all too hard to present, and without any external provocation. The coaches were tapped into what was happening in that cafeteria and reflecting on the significance of their relationships with the kids. By recognizing the children and their growth, the coaches were considering the affect time has on all of us. This insightful look was a result of recognizing the kids, their transformation, and ultimately, their story. Whether or not they knew it, the coaches were showing me how to see.
As I turned the interaction over in my mind, the coaches lined up our attending players for a rainy Friday Project Coach session. We were back into the swing of things and ready to facilitate a great afternoon. The clarity didn’t fade from our Coach’s eyes as they led the children down Gerena’s steps and towards the game.

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