Sunday, November 14, 2010

Former Youth Coach Cassandra comes to Smith College

EDITOR'S NOTE: People often ask, do you track how PC youth do after they leave the program? It's a very legitimate and important question that seeks to understand program impact. Some times impact unfolds across time-- even years. Here is a short piece about how a mentoring relationship between a college student and a PC teen plays out across multiple years.

Cassandra Gonzalez, a senior at Renaissance High School in Springfield, and her friend arrived at Smith College at ten on Friday morning where they met with Jewels Rhode, a senior at Smith College. Cassandra, who is thinking of studying either Psychology or Nursing, was visiting the college as a prospective student.

In the morning she sat in on one of Jewels’ Statistics classes. Cassandra found the class “confusing”; when asked about the lunch she had had at one of Smith’s dining rooms she commented that the “french fries were good”. Cassandra and Jewels met through Project Coach. Cassandra was a youth coach and Jewels was participating in the program because she was taking Sam Intrator’s class “Education in the City” at the time. Cassandra and Jewels would speak on Thursday afternoons, which is how Cassandra first came to consider Smith as a college option.

Cassandra heard of Project Coach through her younger sister who attended Chestnut Middle School in Springfield. Cassandra really enjoyed participating in Project Coach because she “loves little kids”. She admitted to having one player who was secretly her favorite, a girl with “Shirley Temple curls.” The boys on the team she coached could get “fresh” but were also “cute”. Out of the sports she had to coach, Cassandra enjoyed soccer most because “the Red Shirts aren’t as close to you” since soccer is played on the fields outdoors and “you have more control” as a Blue Shirt over your team. In the spring basketball became harder, but Cassandra thought that it became more difficult because she had more to do: softball practice, an internship and SAT preparation classes. She didn’t participate in Project Coach this year because she didn’t feel she could give her “110 percent commitment”.

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