When you hear the word coach, the first thing that may come to mind is the image of a sports coach, maybe one pacing up and down the basketball, football or soccer sideline or sitting in a dugout. It may be one of the coaches you had as a kid and/or when you reached high school and college. No matter the level, in the role of coach this person was responsible for a myriad of things in addition to the obvious ones of teaching the game to the players and managing the game activity.
As we get older and have less of the need or opportunity for a sports coach, other “coaches” enter our life. How many of us have heard of, or actually used, a life coach, career coach, performance coach, group coach, business coach, acting coach, vocal coach, etc.? And don’t overlook those who, in their own way, certainly share many of the attributes of a coach, e.g. parent, mentor, advisor, therapist, lawyer, confidante, boss, etc.
Taken together, it is pretty clear that we all can do better in many aspects of life if we have a coach. So, when I heard of Up2Us Sports’s efforts to get coaches for young people all over the country, I was more than encouraged. I was thrilled. Just think of the potential for great success when a young person can regularly interact with someone who really understands them, can appreciate what they may be going through, is not there to judge, and is not so much older than them. The possibilities are endless.
According to Up2Us Sports, “Up2Us Coaches undergo 40 hours of training in youth development and mentoring strategies. This training prepares coaches to promote physical activity, healthy living, and good decision making, while cultivating caring, trust-based relationships with the youth they serve.”
I applaud Up2Us Sports for taking a leadership role when it comes to youth development. There are a lot of things kids can benefit from as they grow up, and many of them not material in nature. They include a smile, a pat on the back, a high five, someone who will listen to their concerns, etc. I have been fortunate to meet some Up2Us Coaches and I can sense their passion for their job, some say it is a calling. I don’t doubt it. They are giving young people the confidence to take on their biggest dreams and biggest challenges. Those coaches working with young people, especially those from under-resourced communities, can have hugely positive results for them, and can provide seismic impact on society.
Sarbjit “Sab” Singh is an assistant professor of sport management at Farmingdale State College (NY) and the publisher of Sports Doing Good.