Coming into the Victory Scholarship program, the extent of my coaching background was limited to working with kids who already possessed an interest and baseline skill set in basketball. I had never really been the first person to put a basketball in someone’s hands and to teach from scratch. And as I have seen before, being a capable player far from guarantees you are a capable coach. In full transparency, the thought of going into schools by myself to work with twenty to thirty children, many of whom had never played basketball before, seemed overly daunting. What if I couldn’t keep their attention? What if I failed at teaching? Even worse, there are so many of them and only one of me, what if they join together and revolt?!
Coaching a rotation of classes in several schools around the city, I really only get to interact with one particular group of kids between thirty and sixty minutes per week (often times biweekly). Thinking back to how much time I invested into the game growing up, sometimes I can’t help but think, “am I actually making a difference with these kids?”. By and large, the kids seem to enjoy our sessions, but with so many of them and one of me, it’s often difficult to give each one of them the individual attention needed to really measure the strength of the impact you’re having.
While the thought still creeps into my mind from time to time, I think I’ve finally found the reassurance I needed. Walking to class this past week, I bumped into a few kids I previously coached at the Claddagh [with the new semester in full effect, my coaching schedule has adjusted to reflect a new course load— meaning though I’ve added new coaching opportunities, I’ve also had to cut back from several weekly school visit hours from my first few months]. I was shocked how excited they became when they saw me. Seriously, even my relatives aren’t that excited to see me after prolonged periods of time apart. We spent a few minutes conversing about their enjoyment of the class, and how several of them have continued working on their games outside of school. As for any new coach, these were words I dreamed of hearing.
Although I have spent time assisting with camps, club teams, and the BI Regional Academy throughout the year, it has surprisingly been what I was most nervous of that has become the most memorable aspect of my outreach— working in schools like the Claddagh, St. Michaels, and the Jes Primary. While my time in the Victory Scholars program may be nearing an end, I only hope the mark I leave behind will help continue to inspire these amazing young minds like they have helped inspire me.