Soccer Shots: Coach Chris

Across the country Soccer Shots coaches positively impact girls and boys in all sorts of ways!

Through countless smiles, numerous high-fives, encouraging words, patient instruction, and caring acts our coaches make a difference in the lives of children.

Watch this short video and meet one such coach – Coach Chris. While Chris doesn’t coach for Soccer Shots Los Angeles, his story, passion, and dedication to making an impact is incredibly similar to all of the coaches on our team.

On their own terms…

AlyssaM CoachCard On their own terms... As a Soccer Shots Director, I feel lucky to have a vast array of experiences within the company, from administrative tasks to working with kids and families in the field.

This fall I have worked with two children, at two different schools, that reminded me once again why I LOVE Soccer Shots, why we do what we do, and why we take the approach that we take.

The first child, has played several seasons of Soccer Shots, starting over a year ago, in my class. He was a child that I knew when I met him, would benefit from Soccer Shots. Each week before soccer we talked about having safe, calm bodies, using listening ears, and playing all the games. In a few short weeks, this child fell in love with soccer. We run 4 classes at his school, and each time we walk by his classroom, he excitedly asks if it’s his turn yet. Not every child needs the reminders that this child needs before class, and not every coach would have suggested this child join their class of 10 other kids, on black top. Some coaches, in some other programs, wouldn’t have seen what I saw in this child. Through the imminent added challenge, I saw promise, I saw potential. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and I took him into my class without hesitation. I visited this school recently, and this child greeted me with a gigantic hug. During soccer, he reminded me again how unique each child we work with truly is. And how important it is to meet them where they are, and give them every opportunity to succeed, on their own terms. They deserve that. He stopped mid-dribble while I was watching his class, and proclaimed… “A PUDDLE! Coach Alyssa, I just need a second to explore this puddle real quick…”

Screen Shot 2014 11 14 at 3.54.42 PM On their own terms...

Some coaches, in some other programs, would have denied him the opportunity to lay down, close one eye, and really check out that puddle. I knew, if he didn’t get that opportunity, it was probably going to affect his ability to engage in the rest of class. So… we did. We explored the puddle for a little while, and then he went right back to dribbling…

The second child, started her first season of Soccer Shots this fall, and met me on day one, with eyes full of tears. She was shy, hesitant, and reluctant to try something new. Instead of forcing her out of her comfort zone, I let her sit on the side of soccer island to observe our class. By the end of week one’s class, she was trying stop position, on her own, on the sideline. When I acknowledged her success, she was again hesitant to respond. Week two was similar, with some progress. By week three, she was dribbling and doing pull back moves on the sideline, and joining us for a game or two. I never forced her to join, but would occasionally ask her if she wanted to try what we were doing. Most often she declined, but she watched and took in EVERYTHING we were doing.

By week five, there were no tears when myself and the other coach arrived… and she played the entire class with us! She even asked me if she could have a turn playing in the scrimmage! This felt like a huge accomplishment, since scrimmage can be one of the most intimidating parts of class. One ball, 3 or 4 kids on each team, running full speed at each other… But she did it, without hesitation! Screen Shot 2014 11 14 at 4.39.35 PM On their own terms...

We could have suggested this child wasn’t ready for soccer, or that she try again next season… But we didn’t. We gave her the time and space she needed, to join us, on her own terms.

For me, and for many kids, THIS is exactly what Soccer Shots is about. It’s about development. It’s about potential. It’s about small successes. It’s about respecting each child, and giving them the opportunity they need. Soccer Shots also happens to be about soccer and skill building, but for me, and for many kids, that comes second to the skills built when given time and space to develop and grow on their own terms.

“Help please…” and other hard conversations…

AlyssaM Help please... and other hard conversations...
Alyssa McGarigal, MA, PPSC
Director, Program & Community Advancement

As coaches at Soccer Shots, we spend countless hours a day, influencing young minds. We remind them to keep their bodies safe, to respect friends and toys, and to ask for help when they need it. In fact, when I am on the field, “I can’t do it…” is one of my least favorite things to hear, and I immediately respond with, ” let’s try one more time together,” or “you can say… I need help, please.” 

When I heard about Robin Williams’ passing yesterday, as an educator, and a counselor, I couldn’t help but think to myself… What happened? At what age does asking for help go out of style? What makes it so difficult to have hard conversations? How do we prevent these things from happening…? 

Some of my favorite characters crossed my mind a hundred times. Genie in Aladdin, Lovelace in Happy Feet, Mrs. Doubtfire, Patch Adams, Jack, Alan Parrish in Jumanji (even though I was terrified of that movie for quite some time), Professor Phillip Brainard in Flubber, Peter Pan in Hook, John Keating in Dead Poet’s Society, Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting… the list goes on and on.

Working with kids, we are consistently modeling the behavior we want to see from them. If we want them to dribble their soccer ball, we dribble with them. If we want them to sit criss-cross applesauce, we sit with them.

At age 3 and 4, a seemingly hard conversation might start with, “you have short hair, are you a boy or a girl?” Or, “that bug isn’t moving anymore, what happened to it?” But, as mentors, coaches, educators, friends, and parents, we have to have the hard conversations. We have to model this behavior too, so that at some point, kids (who become adults) don’t shy away from these conversations.

Here are some tips for having hard conversations with kids: 

1. Listen and acknowledge. Recognize feelings, and provide reassurance or comfort if needed.

2. Ask and answer questions without judgement. Find out what your child thinks or already knows. Try to stay openminded.

3. Be honest. Know yourself. Take time to think of a response if needed. Follow through, make a point to revisit the conversation if you say you need time.

4. Explain simply. Tailor your response to the child’s age and developmental level.

5. Keep the lines of communication open. Provide encouragement to come back and talk more if needed.

 

“You’ll have bad times, but it’ll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to.” – Robin Williams as Sean Maguire, Good Will Hunting

If you, or someone you know, needs help or even just someone to talk to, know that there are always options.

NSPL Logo Help please... and other hard conversations...

The Mentoring Effect + Soccer Shots

Mentoring Works The Mentoring Effect + Soccer ShotsJanuary was first designated National Mentoring Month in 2002, and while the concept of mentoring has been around pretty much forever, researchers and educators have since made it a priority to back up the idea with evidence.

This month, 12 years after the Inaugural National Mentoring Month, MENTOR, the National Mentoring Partnership, has released some impressive, encouraging, and profound research.

In their research, published as The Mentoring Effect: Young People’s Perspective on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring (2014), MENTOR concludes the following:

  •  There are two types of mentoring relationships, Informal/Unstructured and Formal/Structured. Informal mentoring relationships usually form between a young person and a family friend, a teacher, or a coach. Formal mentoring relationships are developed and matched with a purpose, often through schools and community groups.
  • Young people with mentors are more likely to report positive behaviors, like graduating from college, participating in sports and extracurricular activities, and often hold leadership positions in the activities they engage in.
  • Youth believe mentoring provides them with the guidance and support they need to live productively. More specifically, young people in informal mentoring relationships often stated that their mentor provided developmental support, over academic support, talking with them more often about making good decisions and staying motivated in life.
  • One in three young people, and even more at-risk youth, report that they never had a mentor growing up. That means, nationwide, today approximately 16 million youth, including 9 million at-risk youth, will reach age 19 without ever having a mentor.

Coach Andy Charles1 e1390524464198 The Mentoring Effect + Soccer Shots

MENTOR (2014) goes on to identify mentoring as a critical link in the chain of outcomes for youth today, that ultimately produces more active citizens and stronger leaders, better schools and healthier communities. 

So… as our Soccer Shots Coaches head out onto the soccer field and talk about our character words each week, we like to think we are planting the seeds for many, or at the very least, one, meaningful mentor in each child’s life. It’s not just about developing young soccer players, but developing stronger youth, beyond the game.

Reference: The Mentoring Effect: Young People’s Perspectives on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring. (2014). MENTOR: Expanding the world of quality mentoring. Retrieved from http://www.mentoring.org/mentoringeffect