As a kid there was nothing more important to me than playing sports. I like to think that all of my years participating and playing in youth sports played a vital role in the person I became today. From my job, to my college education, almost everything I do has been influenced by sports. Today my role in youth sports is somewhat different. I find myself leading, coaching, and as of last week teaching life skills.
As many of you might know, the Capital City Crew has finished their on-ice activities for the year and has transitioned to off-ice training. The Tuesday night routine continues for the coaches and kids, however, we have shifted locations to the Washington Elementary Boys and Girls Club. For these kids it is another opportunity to be exposed to playing hockey at its most basic form. As a part of the off-ice sessions, half of their time is spent in a classroom learning life skills. From confidence to goal setting, the players are now getting a chance to relate sports to real life.
Last week Dr. Steve Danish, a professor from Virginia Commonwealth University, Dr. Tanya Forneris from the University of Ottawa and Dr. Michael Kanters of North Carolina State University held a three-day training session. SUPER (Sports United to Promote Education and Recreation) is a program developed by Dr. Danish as a way to teach and implement life skills in cooperation with youth sport. At these sessions, the students of various ages, myself included, were trained on how to lead the program. High school students were now working together with college students to teach a lesson to middle schoolers. This diverse group of ages can at first be odd but quickly becomes an asset. Each age group is intertwined with one another and by working together we form a strong team of leaders. These sessions gave all of us a new perspective on not only learning but teaching.
Tuesday, the life skills coaches got to put into use the skills they learned just a week prior. As the Capital City Crew program has grown from a small idea to the full-scale program that it is, nothing has impressed me more than the players. Every Tuesday they arrive early eager to learn and play. The smiles and high fives are seemingly everywhere. It is easy to see how much their confidence has grown in just 10 weeks. Now faced with another new aspect of the program, the Crew were quick to embrace it.
This week’s session focused on goal setting and thinking positively about things we want to achieve. One activity had each player write down a dream. They then traded dreams with a teammate. When asked what it was like to have someone else’s dream, they all loudly declared “It stinks!" At least it is clear they are no longer shy. Thanks to the Capital City Crew, the kids are not only learning how to play hockey, but life lessons. Most importantly, they are learning to dream and dream big. As we have almost come full circle with the Capital City Crew, what was once just a dream for everyone involved is now creating dreams for many more.