Coach Megan Marley with her team

Helping Kids Fall in Love with Sports

Passionate is the best way to describe Megan Marley, especially when it comes to sports. Growing up she played basketball, volleyball, and softball, and even served as a referee for youth leagues.

To say she loves sports is an understatement, so when Megan was thinking about how to give back to her community, Coaching Corps was a natural fit.

For her first practice, she walked into the Toberman Recreation Center a haven for youth built in the shadow of a highway off ramp in downtown Los Angeles. Megan hadn’t coached before, but she knew that between her passion, and the skills she learned through the Coaching Corps training and support program she would succeed.

The kids who greeted her that first day were newcomers to basketball, and weren’t sure what to make of their new coach.

Each practice seemed like a contest in who could be the most enthusiastic. Megan brought so much energy and positivity to the gym, that soon enough, the players couldn’t help but catch her enthusiasm. With every passing week her players were more and more excited to play basketball. Thanks to Megan, many of the youth had gone from being ambivalent, to passionate about basketball.

While most of the team was growing to love basketball, there was still one player who seemed to not be enjoying it as much. Adam rarely wanted to play and would often ask if he could sit out. . Thinking back to the Coaching Corps online training, Megan remembered how sometimes off-field issues can become apparent at practice.

Thinking this might be the case with Adam, Megan spent some time getting to know him. Before and after practice she would make a point of sitting next to him and just talking. Talking about school, or about what was his favorite food. Talking about anything, to get to know him and show that she was committed to being there for him. What she learned from those conversations was that Adam was afraid of making a mistake because he feared the other players would make fun of him. He was so fearful that he preferred to sit out than risk embarrassment.

Megan took a two-step approach to helping Adam become more confident on the court. First, she told the team that everyone – even professional athletes –makes mistakes, especially when trying something new and working to get better at something.

It helped, but it was the second step that really brought Adam out of his shell. She made Adam laugh. She kept talking to him, and they developed inside jokes based on their conversations. “They were just silly things, but you could see him smile and start to have fun at practice because of them” Megan recalls.

Throughout the rest of the season, Megan felt the team’s, including Adam’s, energy and excitement.  They came ready to learn and wanting to get better. “Seeing these kids grow and improve over the season is the reason I coach. It’s so fulfilling to know that I helped them,” Megan says about the way her team came together.

When the season was coming to an end, Megan wanted to do something to commemorate the year and make sure each player felt special. She gave every player an award. She was proud of all the players, but especially proud of Adam for overcoming his fears and growing as a person and a player. Fittingly, Adam was awarded “Most Improved (and most likely to laugh).”

 



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