Meet Coach Tayquan. He is one of over 300 Up2Us Sports Coaches who are trained to build meaningful relationships with youth in their communities using the power of sports.
Up2Us Sports is proud to celebrate coaches today, and every day. Over the past six years, we have provided 16,000 coaches and youth sport administrators with the training they need to make a lasting impact. We believe that a trained coach can help youth in under-resourced communities succeed on and off the field.
On July 19, Up2Us Ambassador and Tampa native John Henson, a power forward with the Milwaukee Bucks, and a team of Coach Across America (CAA) coaches hosted "The John Henson Experience" at the Tampa Bay Youth Sports Expo. The one-day basketball clinic helped to raise awareness on the importance of youth sports and funds to support the placement of additional CAA coaches in the Tampa Bay area. About 100 local youth participated in the clinic. Up2Us member The Skills Center hosted the Tampa Bay Youth Sports Expo at the Tampa Convention Center. The Expo featured a multitude of interactive sports activities for kids, including hockey, golf, football, lacrosse, baseball, dance, and basketball.
Check out the great media coverage from the event:
I had the opportunity to eat lunch at a high-end professional office building in NYC the other day. The cafeteria was in the main lobby, and I arrived at the peak hour, so I settled on the last available table in a corner that also happened to be right near the garbage receptacles. Oddly enough, as I devoured my subsidized gourmet platter of food, I couldn’t help but stare at the trashcans, one of which was blue, one green and the other a nondescript grey. What I observed has stayed with me ever since.
Every few moments, a different group of executives would arrive with their trays of emptied bottles, plates, napkins and other refuse. In most cases, they were all conversing as they approached the bins and slowed almost routinely to discard the tray’s contents. That’s when I observed a pattern that I never expected: when the person leading any given group paused long enough to separate glass and paper into the appropriate containers, the others that followed almost unthinkingly did the same. But when the person leading the group dumped all their contents at once into the grey container, the persons that followed DID THE SAME. Almost without exception, everyone followed the leader.
Now, let’s be clear. These were presumably, well-educated lawyers, financial managers, business leaders, etc. If you stopped any of them, they most certainly would acknowledge that recycling is good for the environment. Some might even know that recycling is the law in New York City. Yet, everyone just followed the leader whether that leader recycled or not. It’s that easy to make a poor decision. Even when you have all the education, all the resources and all the knowledge not to.
I remained at my table in that cafeteria but this time I was no longer watching the bins. I was thinking of the millions of kids living in poverty who also follow the leaders. These leaders make it easy to join a gang, become a teen mom, be a bully or just drop out of school. It can be hard for professional adults to separate their garbage, can you imagine how difficult it must be for a child to resist these kind of negative role models when they are surrounded by them and when no one else is there to set a different example?
This is why Coach Across America is so important. We have allowed too many youth in this nation’s communities to be leaderless. The result is the failing schools, the crime, and the bullying that have become far too common imagery on our nightly news.
It’s time to get serious and invest in a workforce of coaches to lead youth to make the “right” decisions. For all children, a coach is someone they can look up to and trust. A coach is a role model who can guide their decision-making. A trained coach helps them to see beyond the easy choices to make the right choices.
Every child deserves a coach. And by investing in one, maybe one day, every child will grow up to be the professional in that office building who approaches those garbage cans and knows exactly what to do.
Paul Caccamo President & Founder
Today, nearly every parent must leave their child in the custody and care of another adult during a good part of the workday. During after school hours, this adult is often a coach. Yet, coaches across the country receive very little training, if any at all, on how to work with children. They may know their sport, but do they know how to address teaching sports in the context of a teenager struggling in school, or a girl coping with self-image issues, or a child who's being bullied? Coaches should be equipped with basic tools to use sports to teach teamwork and leadership to every child during their practices. Without this kind of training, many of the life lessons that a coach can impart are lost. And, in some cases, this lack of training can result in coaches who are modeling the wrong behavior. The result: an increasing number of American children drop out of sports because they feel more encouraged by the flashing victory lights of their carefully designed video games than the yelling of their untrained coaches. And that needs to change.
I say we reverse this trend by requiring a minimum training in youth development for every coach in this country. All coaches should undergo basic coursework on child development--emotional, physical and social---and how to maximize the sports experience to impart life skills. This week, Up2Us completed its second National Coach Training Institute this year in New Orleans where coaches became certified in sports-based youth development. The Up2Us Center is conducting four national coach training institutes this year, including upcoming trainings in Boston and Los Angeles. Now just imagine if every one of the estimated 2-3 million coaches in this country, paid and volunteer, were required to attend such an institute or take courses online before taking the field?
Let’s stop imagining and start requiring. Up2Us is leading the nation in developing professional standards around sports-based youth development. We believe the future of youth sports is at stake. Only when we prove the potential of our coaches to contribute to the success of the next generation of Americans will we ensure that schools and communities stop slashing their sports budgets. And most importantly, by requiring this training in youth development, we send a reassuring message to all parents who drop their kids off at practice: the coach who will oversee your child for these next few hours has been trained to help your child succeed in life.
Make that Connector of the Year! Up2Us is a national movement that is based on one very powerful word: connections.
Far too many children drop out of school because they do not feel connected to their teachers or to other classmates. Far too many boys join gangs because they do not feel connected to society. Far too many girls find themselves as teenage mothers because they do not feel connected to adult role models.
Up2Us uses the unique power of sports to create connections. Life affirming connections between kids and their coaches, kids and their teammates, and kids and the wider community.
Key to making these connections possible are our coaches who work everyday to give our youth this sense of belonging. Properly trained coaches provide children the unique opportunity to develop their life skills in a nontraditional setting. For many kids in urban America who are isolated because of poverty, broken families and underserved communities, this coach may be the most critical connection of them all.
Tonight is the first ever Up2Us gala. It will be attended by celebrities, athletes, coaches and other stakeholders from across the country who believe in the Up2Us mission. Every guest in attendance has one thing in common: they achieved their success in life because of some connection that meant something to them and inspired them to be great. That's why the focus of this gala is to celebrate three special connectors, the Up2Us Coaches of the Year.
These Coach Across America coaches were chosen by kids and colleagues from their communities because of their impact on health, violence and academics. Coach Ebonee from Los Angeles uses sports to connect at-risk kids to a lifelong love of exercise and physical activity. Coach Michel from Chicago uses sports to connect gang members to positive peer groups who help them say to no violence. Coach Payne from Boston uses sports to connect at-risk students in failing public schools to a renewed commitment to their education.
I have often written that Up2Us is the solution to the challenges of juvenile violence, school dropout rates, and childhood obesity. Up2Us is the solution because it is about the kinds of connections demonstrated by these amazing coaches. They deserve to be celebrated at a gala in New York with legendary figures like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wynton Marsalis, and Philip Seymour Hoffman in attendance.
They are the Connectors of the Year.
Paul Caccamo Executive Director