My name is Anthony Andino and I am an AmeriCorps alumnus who served three years as an AmeriCorps member at Up2Us Sports. I am currently the Sports and Recreation Coordinator for Henry Street Settlement in New York City and serve as the Host Site Supervisor for our current AmeriCorps Coach Across America (CAA) coaches. The reason I became an AmeriCorps member and a CAA coach was because I aspired to be the same type of individual that my coach growing up was: a positive adult male role model. My coach was like a father to me; he provided guidance, leadership, and a sense of consistency that my father couldn't give to me. It was through my relationship with my coach that I was able to develop skills as an athlete, student, and a overall responsible young man. My coach encouraged me to do well in school and graduate from college. AmeriCorps and Up2Us Sports are extremely important to me because they allowed me to use my love of sports as an athlete and coach to work more intentionally with the youth in my community. Serving at Henry Street Settlement was an invaluable experience that first introduced me to working directly with the children of my Lower East Side community. It has helped me build relationships with the youth and establish myself as a positive adult figure in their lives, which the majority of inner-city youth lack. While serving in the CAA program, I attended numerous trainings facilitated by the Up2Us Sports training staff that gave me a full understanding of how I could best help the youth I serve. I learned how to get the best out of my kids and it provided me with several tools for addressing the challenges that the children I serve face on a daily basis. Through this journey I have learned the complete application of sports-based youth development principles, which teach life skills - through sports - to our youth and give them a higher likelihood of achieving success on and off the playing field.
Thanks to my development through the CAA program, I was hired full-time by the organization I served at during my service term. The CAA program has enabled me to put myself on a platform in which I can give back to my community and provide resources that would otherwise not be available to youth in my organization. It has also allowed me to talk to former participants of my program and offer them the same opportunity given to me by bringing them on as AmeriCorps service members and Up2Us Sports coaches. I am indebted to AmeriCorps and Up2Us Sports for the opportunities this partnership has afforded me and I am proud to speak about the impact this experience has had on my life.