Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Project Coach at Camp Cromwell with BCNY!

July 20, 2011

During July 2011, the Project Coach team visited the Camp Cromwell, NJ, summer camp of the Boy’s Club of New York, to implement an intensive one-week PC program for urban youth and elementary school-aged participants.

Over the course of the initial intensive training weekend, youth coaches learned the fundamentals of becoming an effective coach and an inspired role-model as they received instruction in the Project Coach Academy curriculum.

Central to the successful implementation of this curriculum were the 2011-12 cohort of new graduate ‘redshirts’, who showed incredible energy and devotion as they forged long-lasting relationships quickly with their young charges.

The true test of the growth of this impressive cadre of youth coaches came during the week, when they led high-energy, action-packed basketball and soccer sessions for over 130 younger members from BCNY.

Special thanks go to Megan Vandeventer, Director of Program Development at BCNY, and the wonderful team of staff in Martinsville, led by Camp Director Fred Guzman. The week proved to be a tremendous success, and Project Coach looks forward to working with BCNY again in the near future.

Check out the thoughts of new PC "redshirts" below....

Jason Anderson:

The PC training in New Jersey was simply awesome. We not only bonded as a grad school cohort, but forged meaningful relationships with all of our teen coaches. Chris, Tyler, Ish, Joe, Joseph, Gabriel, Big B, Claude, Bishop, Apollo, Ruben, Charles and Gris became my friends, and Tom, Ashely, Cait, Brian, Katie, Taylor and Andy became family. Learning, practicing and witnessing the Project Coach model (and philosophy) in action, all of us were forced to think on our feet and really reflect on what makes a strong, positive role model and leader. Every day Andy encouraged us to keep stepping it up, and every day the group went big. None of us were the same at the end of that week and, honestly, I don't know which was more inspiring: watching the transformation of the NYC teenagers, or that of my fellow Smith students.  After the epiphany of seeing what can happen in seven days, I know we are all excited for an entire school year in Springfield. I can't wait to get started.

Tom Messinger:

I was incredibly impressed with the coaches from BCNY we got the opportunity to work with at Camp Cromwell this weekend. The coaches came in mature beyond their years and already living the core principals of the Project Coach curriculum, yet they still poured everything they had into the training, and improved by leaps and bounds. It was very powerful for me to see that by the second day working with the elementary school kids, all three of the BCNY coaches I was working close with were ready to take over and lead their own teams without my assistance, which is not an easy task whatsoever. They all were willing and eager to step up to the challenge and accept responsibility, and they all succeeded. My only regret is that we will not have an opportunity to continue our work with the BCNY Coaches in the immediate future, but I have no doubt that these young men will be such positive influences in their clubhouses, communities and families.

Brian Quadrozzi:

The past week spent at Project Coach in Martinsville, NJ was eye-opening to say the least. Maybe not so much for me, as I have come from that place and have continually beared witness to the fact that success and the ability to succeed in life both in confidence and ability is not entirely dependent on ones social economic status, but rather on a person's innate ability to recognize that greater opportunities await them - if they want them. The young men from inner city NYC proved this to me beyond a doubt. They all recognized that in order to succeed - both in the program and in life, one must possess a "fire", a burning desire to prove to oneself, and those around you, that simply - you can. You can "change your stars' , you can put yourself on a trajectory that will empower you with a sense of discipline, responsibility, and committment - that will blur the lines between one's academic and personal lives. Hopefully through the sports empowerment programs that we ran all this week - they have realized that.

On a personal note, the young men we were working with really inspired me. They inspired me with their lack of a "woe is me" attitude that seems to permeate people who come from the inner city. No one complained, no one made excuses - and my coach specifically, who I found out had both lost a father and a role model back to back - but you would have never known. These kids were stronger than I ever could have imagined. 

Katie Joyce

The Project Coach training at Camp Cromwell was an incredible success.  The teenage coaches from the Boys Club of New York impressed us all with their maturity, willingness to challenge themselves, and ability to develop such strong coaching skills over the course of only a week.  The Project Coach curriculum brought out the best in the coaches by helping them to work together, to encourage each other, and to critique themselves in order to improve. The experience of helping to train the coaches at Camp Cromwell built my own confidence in my abilities as a mentor for high school students.  Our week together enabled me get to know and to learn from my fellow gradate student.  I am very enthusiastic about the upcoming year where we will work together in Springfield.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Project Coach Fellows - Week One Recap

During the first week of their Project Coach experience, new Fellows were immersed in a variety of different activities designed to orientate them to the program, its goals, and its values. As a part of this, they also had the opportunity to spend some time with six veteran PC youth coaches, as well as learn some valuable teambuilding and ice-breaking activities from Coach Mike Dean.

Their thoughts on an action-packed first week can be found below. Full biographical information on the 2011-12 cohort can be found here.

Jason Anderson:

Last Thursday was a big one for us PC Fellows. The morning's team-building games were fantastic. I probably learned more about my cohort in two hours than I had in the previous two days. Mike did a great job of involving everyone and keeping things (and us) moving, often literally. Our afternoon CPR-First Aid training was great, as well. Matt made the exercises engaging, boosting our (by that point somewhat fatigued) spirits with humor and positive energy. My favorite part of the day, though, was simply meeting--and getting to hang out with--the Blue Shirts from Springfield. Ish, Loeb, Julian, Hassan, Kiana and Jon were really fun to work alongside, and it made me all the more excited for our time together this upcoming school year. 

Caitlin Scudder:

During the two-hour morning session, Mike taught us probably 20 different ice-breaker/introductory games. These games not only got our blood pumping and our mind's firing, a great way to begin the long day we had ahead of us, but it showed us first-hand the effectiveness of such games to really get a group feeling comfortable with each other. Within the first fifteen minutes, we all knew each other's names, hometowns, favorite movie, and a collection of other obscure facts and idiosyncrasies. With Mike directing a leading us, providing clear and confident directions, we gelled instantly, jumping right into the activities and every 'problem' or 'challenge' he placed before us.

With such a productive and engaging morning, emphasizing team-building and activity-learning, we could not wait to meet the coaches. When they all arrived, and we were gathered in a circle, looking quite similar to the smaller circle the fellows began with in the morning, it was time for practice to be put into action. Time to introduce ourselves and get to know one another! I was caught totally off-guard, though, when Brian tossed the ball to me, and asked me to lead the first activity. Talk about being put on the spot! After a milli-second of feeling nervous and uncertain, that feeling quickly disappeared as I looked around the room at all the bright and eager faces looking back at me, and at each other. They just wanted to dive in!  And dive in we did. All that morning practice of activity leading had led up to this moment-- time to introduce myself, speak clearly and brightly, name the game, and begin! Needless to say, the introductions flowed easily, producing lots of laughs, smiles and ebullient joy all around. It was an amazing first day. I can't wait for the year to begin!

Taylor Stevens:

My experiences so far in both Project Coach and the MAT program have been really great. I think that doing the CPR class with six of the blue shirts was a really good way to begin our introductions with some of the most involved Project Coach coaches. They all seemed excited to be there, and I hope that they thought that we were going to be fun to work with this year. It was cool to all be on the same level as far as experience with First Aid and CPR, especially since they are going to be much more experienced in the coaching aspect of the program. I am excited to put what we have learned into practice in New Jersey, though I have to admit that I am nervous about being thrown out there to put what we have learned to the test. Last week made me PUMPED about getting to know each of the students, working together with them, and learning a lot from them in many areas.

Katie Joyce:

Our first day meeting as Project Coach Fellows and introducing ourselves to some of the coaches motivated me to learn as much as I can from the many interesting people I will be surrounded by this year.  The coaches struck me as a very mature and attentive group of teenagers who paid attention while keeping a good sense of humor during our long CPR training.  Their presence made the afternoon much more enjoyable and I am excited to get to know them better in the fall.
I also learned more about our class of fellows during the icebreakers in the morning and realized that we bring many experiences and strong personality traits to the program.  I am honored to have the opportunity to work with such a passionate group of people and am looking forward to forming friendships with each of them.

Ashley Niles:

The one word that comes to my mind when I think about PC is, passion. It is clear to me that everyone involved with PC is extremely dedicated to the young people that the program serves. It has become more and more obvious that this program is not primarily about creating better athletes and coaches, but more about creating a better life for the young people involved. Over the past week I have learned that my most important job in this program is to develop strong relationships with the youth coaches. Each day I learn more about my role as a "red shirt" and each day I get more and more excited about beginning to build relationships with the PC participants.