Coaching Corps Named 2015 Sports Lawyers Association Philanthropy Contribution Recipient

Coaching Corps Will be Presented Award at the SLA Conference Luncheon on May 15th

RESTON, Va. (May 12, 2015) – The Sports Lawyers Association (SLA) announced today that Coaching Corps has been named the 2015 SLA Philanthropy Contribution recipient. Coaching Corps will be presented with a $20,000 donation at the SLA Conference Luncheon at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront in Baltimore, MD on May 15. The SLA, the leading organization of professionals dedicated to the practicing and teaching of sports law in the United States, and one of the leading such organizations in the world, will host its 41st annual conference from May 14-16.

Coaching Corps (www.coachingcorps.org) is a non-profit organization that provides coaches to afterschool programs and supports sports opportunities and initiatives that help improve the health, educational and social outcomes for children in low-income communities through the power of sports participation and positive coaching.

“On behalf of the Philanthropy Committee and the Sports Lawyers Association Board of Directors, we are excited to present our 2015 SLA philanthropic contribution to Coaching Corps,” said Allison Rich, Senior Associate Director of Athletics/SWA, Princeton University and SLA Philanthropy Committee Chair. “We take pride in our commitment to helping deserving non-profit organizations in the local communities we visit during our annual conference each year. We are pleased to make this donation to Coaching Corps and delighted that the gift will help support their terrific ongoing efforts to train, educate and support coaches for underserved youth in Baltimore; giving kids a chance to play sports and accrue all the associated benefits of that participation.”

“Coaching Corps is honored to have been named the Sports Lawyers Association Philanthropy Award winner,” said Janet Carter, Executive Director, Coaching Corps. “Every child deserves the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of sports activities and team-based learning. This support will fuel the expansion of our program in Baltimore and enable us to increase quality sports opportunities for kids from the city’s most underserved communities.”

Since 2000, the SLA has contributed $200,000 to philanthropic organizations. The list of previous recipients is available at  www.sportslaw.org.

The 2015 SLA Conference Committee is chaired by Gabe Feldman, with vice-chairs Jeffrey G. Benz and Robert A. Hacker. Conference registration, agenda, hotel information and other details are available at  www.sportslaw.org (Agenda is subject to change). Please follow the Sports Lawyers Association on Twitter @sportslawyers, where conference updates and panel highlights will be posted using hashtag #SLAC15.

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Going Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

Benita Vargas-Brown, Volleyball Coach at Hampstead Hill Academy

Benita Vargas-Brown grew up in one of the poorest parts of Baltimore. She always wanted to make a difference in the city, which is why she became a social worker. That same passion eventually led her to coach and mentor kids in sports. Learn more about Benita’s journey in her own words.
How did you become a Coaching Corps coach?
I didn’t go looking for coaching, it found me. I was really stressed with my job and my final semester in undergrad, so my husband said, “You’re really not helping yourself. Why don’t you leave your job, take the semester off, and figure out what you want to do next?” So, I went to a volunteering fair, and that’s when I got to know Coaching Corps. It was destiny: They were looking for a volleyball coach, and I am qualified to coach volleyball. They said they needed a coach for Hampstead Hill Academy, which is literally just a walk away from our home. So, it was really perfect.
Can you tell us more about the challenges that the kids you coach face at school and at home?
When people hear Baltimore, crime and violence are among the usual challenges that come to mind, so it was extra important to keep the kids off the streets. I’ve had to drive some of the girls home so they don’t have to take the bus when it’s dark.
There have also been some differences among the girls. The school is located at Patterson Park, where on one side you have the million-dollar houses, and on the other you have boarded-up houses. So you wind up having kids coming from privileged and underprivileged situations. This created some interesting dynamics within the team that led to some difficult conversations, but we got through it eventually. That’s one of the benefits of team sports. We got this whole learning experience that wound up really positive at the end.
You mentioned something about “interesting team dynamics.” Can you share more about that?
This is actually one of the things I’m proudest [of] about my team. The girls take it upon themselves to address differences within the group. At one point, it became very clear during our practice that something wasn’t right. We were on this championship drive but there was obvious tension within the team. The girls came to me and gathered as a group to talk things through. The fact that they came up with that strategy on their own is really amazing. For me, it meant that we’re doing something right. After that talk, we got back together as a team. I’m so glad we did it because I know for a fact we wouldn’t have won the championship without sorting things out. Everybody makes mistakes. At the end of the day, what’s important is to be there and have each other’s backs.
What changes or improvements did you see in the girls as a result of being on the team?
The most obvious one would be the sense of maturity. To be in a position where you have a responsibility over something, to be able to practice and play, there are expectations. If you didn’t come to practice on Wednesday, you’re not going to play on Thursday: that’s the consequence for skipping practice.  Eventually it wasn’t the consequence that really drove them. It was their commitment.
All my [Coaching Corps] girls who tried out for high school sports made their teams. There are two highly-rated schools in Baltimore, Baltimore Polytechnic institute and Baltimore City College. To get into those schools is every parent’s and kid’s dream. They have great education and high graduation rates, and they don’t tolerate gang-related violence, which creates a safer environment for the kids. Fifteen of the girls from the team got in and played for Poly while 13 went to City. That makes me really happy.
Wow! If there’s one way to describe success and promoting equity, that would be it. With all these experiences, what advice would you give aspiring coaches and mentors for kids?
Show up. You have to be there. You have to be consistent. You can’t cancel on these kids. Over the course of my time, if I know something’s going to come up in my schedule, I plan for an assistant coach to take over. Kids know if you care. You can figure out everything else, there are Youtube videos for that. You just have to show up because these kids expect you to be there for them.
Afterschool Partners

Orlando

Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida

City of Orlando Athletics

Afterschool Program Partners

Other

JT Dorsey Foundation

Afterschool Program Partners

San Diego

Gompers Preparatory Academy

High Tech High

La Maestra Foundation – Center for Youth Advancement at Generations

The Monarch School

Pro Kids | The First Tee of San Diego

Soccer Kids America

YMCA of San Diego County

Afterschool Program Partners

Los Angeles

A Place Called Home

AFFIRMATIVE ATHLETICS

After School All Stars: Los Angeles

Boys & Girls Club of Venice

Boys & Girls Clubs of Carson

Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Los Angeles

Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica

Boys and Girls Clubs of the LA Harbor

Brotherhood Crusade

City of Huntington Park Department of Parks

East Los Angeles Rising Youth Club

Equitas Academy

Girls on the Run of Los Angeles

Girls Play Los Angeles

ICES Education

IMPACTO

L.A.C.E.R. Afterschool Programs

Long Beach Parks, Recreation and Marine

Los Angeles Rec and Parks

Major League Baseball Youth Academy

Norwalk La Mirada Unified

P.F. Bresee Foundation

Sloane Stephens Foundation

Street Soccer USA: Los Angeles

Team Prime Time

Variety Boys & Girls Club

Watts Rams

YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles

Afterschool Program Partners

ATLANTA

Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta: Samuel L. Jones Boys & Girls Club
Afterschool Program Partners

Boston

All Dorchester Sports and Leadership

Boston Centers for Youth & Families

Boston SCORES

Cambridge Community Center

East End House

Oak Square YMCA

Sole Train: Boston Runs Together