For some kids, having a parent as a coach turns them away from sports. This was not the case for Christian Gutierrez, a Coach Across America coach with Woodcraft Rangers in Los Angeles. Growing up with his father as his soccer coach, Christian was able to see the positive impact his father’s coaching had not only on his life, but the lives of his teammates. This was the impetus behind Christian’s desire to become a coach himself.
Since starting as a soccer and basketball coach at Granada Middle School in his hometown of Whittier last August, Christian has flourished as a coach. In addition to teaching the kids sport-specific skills, he has become more effective in his ability to teach leadership and life skills. A fourth-grader named Jacob that Christian knew from a summer program at Woodcraft Rangers has shown impressive growth. Naturally athletic, Jacob lacked confidence in himself and in his soccer skills. Christian was able to incorporate lessons he learned from an Up2Us Sports National Coach Training Institute to help Jacob transform into a leader on the team.Through structured informal time and daily check-ins, Christian was able to get to know a lot more about Jacob, such as where he’s from and what some of his struggles are. “Talking to them when you have the opportunity really, really shows them a lot and it shows that you’re making an effort to listen to them and hear what they have to say.” Jacob grew to trust Christian and, in turn, grew the confidence to trust in his own leadership and soccer skills.
Other than following in his father’s influential footsteps, Christian’s favorite part about being a coach is seeing the kids use the skills he’s taught them. “When you teach them something at practice and then see them use that skill in a scrimmage or a game that really, really makes me feel good.” He doesn’t mean just sport skills either. He has a rule with the team - Encourage, Don’t Discourage. “When someone falls and the others don’t laugh at them and instead help them up, or if someone isn’t getting a drill and they help them throughout the drill...that really makes me happy.”
Aside from coaching, Christian attends college full time and is currently applying to work for the Los Angeles Police Department. A criminal justice major, he has already passed the physical abilities test and oral interviews. He wants to help affect change in the lives of inner city youth and sees a large connection between his passion to coach and his goal to become a police officer.
“I want to be a coach and police officer so that way I am helping my community while I am serving it.”