Monday, September 24, 2012

reflections on first day

Reflections on our first day from a returning grad student and a new grad student!

The Following is an email received from former Project Coach Grad Student Thomas Messinger after he came back to help with the first day of programming for the 2012-2013 school year.

It was great to see the kids again, and the program feels like it's going to be very strong this year again- i was especially impressed with how organized it felt. I just wanted to point out one little moment to you, that I shared during the debrief with the Gerena kids, but might be worth making a note of at a Monday session or something. I actually wish I had it on video. 

Charlie had been using the word "variation" very often while explaining the games to his group, which were third graders. Not surprisingly, they didn't know the word. He asked at the beginning "who knows what a variation is?" and no one answered. He explained that it was a change in the game, and then explained the change. He used the word "variation" every time he was, in fact, putting in a variation throughout the whole session. Whether intentional or not, it seemed like a point of emphasis for the day was to teach the third graders this relatively sophisticated word. We always talk about using language that is appropriate for the age group, and I got a feeling like this was going way over their heads the entire time, despite his repeated usage. During the debrief, he asked the question again "who can tell me what variation means?" and, as I had expected, not a single kid raised their hand. Sensing this, Charlie made a fantastic analogy to really bring it home for the kids. He followed up with this dialauge (not direct quotation, but paraphrasing): 

Charlie: "what happens in a video game when you beat a level?"
Kids: "You move on to the next level!" 
Charlie "Does the game stay the same or does it change?"
Kids: "It's different, it gets harder!"
Charlie: "That's a variation! When you do really well at a game, we have to change it so it stays fun"

And the kids really responded to it- they all got what a variation was. It was a phenomenal job by Charlie to recognize the analogy, and put it in at a great time. It really showed a lot of growth on his part as a coach. I don't know if many of the kids will retain that knowledge, but as two of them were walking out they were talking about a "variation" in their favorite video game and how the two levels were different. Pretty cool moment

Below, one of our new Red Shirts (Grad student Kelly Coder) also reflects on the first day of the 2012-13 season.

            This past Wednesday, September 19, the newly established Project Coach family was put to its first test of the year as our coaches began work with three local Springfield Elementary Schools. Following an extremely productive three day training camp the previous weekend; our group of blue shirts (high school students from the Springfield area), some new, some returning, applied their teaching and coaching skills to groups of 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders at Gerena, Lincoln and Brightwood Elementary Schools. Their work began in the classroom as assistance with homework and literacy lessons were lead with enthusiasm and attentiveness. Many of the local teachers expressed joy and excitement about what the Project Coach program provides. The feeling of excitement only increased as the coaches led their groups of elementary school kids to the soccer fields for team and skill building activities. Each and every leader, coach, and child was highly involved throughout the rest of the evening while our combination of soccer techniques, fun, laughter, and character building took place. I know I speak for every member of the PC team when I say it was truly a bright and successful first day of the 2012-2013 year! 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Art by Loeb Rosario with the Letter 

           Each year, as a part of an existing grant from the Global Sports Foundation, our teenage coaches create art that depicts drug-free sport, good sportsmanship, clean competition, and equal playing field. It is an excellent opportunity for our youth to reflect on the morals of sports and coaching, to see the positive ways dedication to sports and coaching influences their lives, and to share their experience with others through art. Often, our coaches work with Smith College Art students to improve their creative expression and truly capture their experiences in Project Coach. As one of the many partnerships and additional initiatives we run, this artistic expression gives our coaches another excellent outlet and mode through which they can reflect and emote. 

          This year we were pleased to hear that the art made by one of our long time coaches, Loeb Rosario, was chosen to represent Global Sports and Project Coach at the London Olympics and Paralympics. His art was "so impressive" that Global Sports made it a larger poster and displayed it at the University College London to be seen by current and former Olympians, members of the Olympic Committee, and the London community. This is an honor and excellent recognition for both Loeb and Project Coach. As Loeb prepares to start his freshmen year of college (he started with our program in 8th grade), this is a recognition he will surely cherish. 
          As we begin our season this year, and have our coaches creating more art, this will surely be a welcome motivator and reminder of the power of sports, coaching, and artistic expression to change the lives of youth, to teach values, and to help adolescents grow and develop. We are so pleased to continue the partnership with Global Sports, and to continue to work with coaches like Loeb who inspire all of us to find our passions, dream big, and work hard.