Back in April, we posted a blog that our Philadelphia-based Senior Regional Manager, Claire Perry, wrote on why she loves being an assistant coach for a local girl’s high school basketball team. She spoke of the connection she has to the girl’s on the team and how important those relationships have become to her. Today, we’re going to hear from one of those girls. Maddie Maio is a sophomore JV/Varsity swing player at Central Bucks West High School, where Claire is her assistant coach. This past summer, Maddie and another teammate of hers spent a day interning in our Philadelphia Up2Us Sports office. This is her story. -
I first learned about Up2Us Sports from my CB West basketball coach, Claire Perry. She and I had the opportunity to talk on a personal level when I was injured and standing on the sidelines watching my teammates play. Coach Claire mentioned to me about her work at Up2Us Sports, and I immediately became interested because of the program’s focus on the power of sport to support underserved youth. She told me and my teammate that we could visit her work site in Philadelphia to learn more about what Up2Us Sports was all about.
At the end of August, Coach Claire drove me and my teammate to her office in Philly. I had spoken with my parents about visiting as both of them grew up in Philadelphia and they were familiar with the area. They mentioned the area was different than the town we live; different schools, buildings, people, and parks. I had no idea what to expect.
Once we got into her office, we met some of the Up2Us Sports staff and had the opportunity to play squash with coaches from SquashSmarts, an organization that teaches squash and provides academic support to kids within North and West Philadelphia. As a member of the network of organizations that Up2Us Sports supports, SquashSmarts hosts two coaches through Up2Us Sports’ Coach Across America (CAA) program. I, fortunately, was taught and played with these two CAA coaches, Tempest and Rabbi. It was such a fun and amazing experience to learn how to play squash with the both of them. Even though my teammate and I weren’t very good at first, they were so encouraging, energetic, positive, and patient with us and they turned us into experts (well, almost) by the end. As I write this, we are dying to get back onto a squash court to play against each other because of Tempest and Rabbi.
After we were done playing, we had an opportunity to sit down with Tempest and Rabbi to talk to them about their lives and about how much squash has helped them turn their lives around in a positive direction. They value the importance and impact that squash had on their lives. They found it had helped them through tough times and positively affected their development psychologically, emotionally, and socially in ways they never thought possible. Without squash, they wouldn’t be where they are today, and they have the program SquashSmarts to thank for that. As CAA Coaches, they’ve received over 30 hours of sports-based, youth development coach training and are excited to receive more training to develop the skills necessary to provide a positive experience to the kids they coach and hope to serve as coach mentors, combining both sport and life skill coaching as they support the SquashSmarts kids both on and off the court.
As we drove back home with Coach Claire, we reflected on our time with Up2Us Sports and SquashSmarts. Hearing Tempest and Rabbi’s stories really opened my eyes and showed me the benefits and positive impact sports can have on someone’s life. I never thought playing a sport would be a way to help kids going through challenges in their lives, but Up2Us Sports showed me it can completely turn a child’s life around for the better. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have spent the day learning about the great work Up2Us Sports does for youth and coaches in the Philadelphia area. It has truly changed my view of sports’ impact on my life. I can’t wait for this upcoming summer so I can go again!
The Lady Bucks kick off their 2015-16 season in November. They finished the 2014-15 season as PIAA State Runner-Up, D1 Champions, and SOL Champions with a 32-2 record. Follow along with Maddie and the team this season on Twitter at @CBWGBB.