Coaching Corps Connects Sports And Life Lessons For Impoverished Students

Boston College is teeming with students who, upon looking back at their high school careers, have fond memories of the times spent with their teammates on the field or on the court as high school athletes. Many of the students, however, are forced to give up that portion of their life upon arriving at college and can only participate in athletic competition through intermittent intramural games.

As a new club on campus, Coaching Corps at BC seeks to give students the opportunity to reignite that passion for sports through coaching various youth athletic teams at local Boston schools and recreation clubs.
For the club’s founders, Coaching Corps seemed like a natural fit for the BC community.

“I think that Coaching Corps fits well at BC because the culture around here is very athletics-oriented and service-oriented,” said Will Relle, the club’s president and CSOM ’15. “This club hits on both of those points of the BC culture very well.”

Coaching Corps is part of a national organization started in California that aims to bring sports and the values it instills to youth in struggling communities. The BC chapter is only the second to have started on the East Coast.
Colin Pavano, vice president and A&S ’15 , explained that BC’s chapter exhibits the larger goals of the national organization.

“At Coaching Corps, we strive to eliminate the gap of disparity that exists between underprivileged children and their access to sports,” he said.

While many students at BC began playing organized sports as soon as they could walk, this is not a privilege that impoverished children receive. Coaching Corps’ goal is to bring that opportunity to the children it serves.
“Through sports, not only do you stay active and involved in your community, but [you] learn a lot of things like teamwork, hard work, and dedication,” Pavano said. “It is these values that children can gain through sports and relationships with coaches that Coaching Corps attempts to instill.”

“The way that we serve the kids is half through coaching them about how to play the sport and half through coaching them about life,” Relle said.

“There are so many positives that come out of sports and working together,” said Daiva Siliunas, treasurer and A&S ’15. “The kids who miss out on that opportunity never get those values instilled.”

Coaching Corps at BC offers a variety of ways for students to get involved and flexible scheduling. Depending on their sport of interest and the time they are able to commit, volunteers are assigned a different placement where they will be responsible for coaching particular teams in practices and games. Sometimes, volunteers will be the primary team coach, while other times they will serve as assistant coaches.

Sports that one can coach include basketball, running, flag football, squash, lacrosse, and soccer. The club is always looking to expand those options as well. The programs that Coaching Corps works with include the Oak Square YMCA in Brighton, Jackson Mann Elementary School, Thomas Edison School, and the Cambridge Boys and Girls club, to name a few.

“The overall idea is to have as many opportunities as possible so everyone can find what suits them best,” Siliunas said in summing up the premise of the organization.

Before becoming an official Coaching Corps volunteer, all students must go through a comprehensive training program that offers guidance and preparation for the coaching world.

“Coaching Corps has an online training program,” Relle said. “It goes through what our aims are first, how to run a practice, how to communicate, and the challenges you may face.”

Aside from the typical coaching placements, Coaching Corps at BC is looking to expand the opportunities for its volunteers.

For those students who may have a limited amount of time that they can commit, Coaching Corps sends volunteers to help out at Special Olympics every Saturday. The club is also looking to collaborate with other organizations on campus.

“We are also partnering up with other on-campus organizations like the athletic department to see if we can create a coaching clinic with some of the sports team to get them involved as well,” Siliunas said.