Serena Limas, CSULA Chapter Leader 2016-2018, 2018 Game Changer Awards Coach of the Year
Growing up sharing a bedroom with her four sisters in a small duplex in East L.A., playing basketball was a solace for Serena—a place where she had as much space as she wanted, a place that was just hers. So, when she ruptured her ACL at the end of her high school career, she was worried she had just lost something that made up so much of who she was.
A freshman at CSU Los Angeles, Serena was grappling with losing her sport but found a new perspective when she met Coaching Corps. “I had never coached, but after going to the information session, I realized that it was a great opportunity to get involved with the game again and even make a big difference,” Serena recalled nearly five years after her first encounter with Coaching Corps.
Even though basketball had a huge impact on her growing up, Serena never had a coach who inspired her, no one she ever wanted to emulate. Remembering one coach, she said “It was traumatizing. If he noticed we weren’t looking, he threw the ball at us. Like… hard.”
“The [Coaching for Character] training literally made me the coach I am today. It helped me understand the underlying issues that are going on off the court and gave me the ability to step back and see the whole picture and be more understanding of where [the players] are.” But Serena’s Coaching Corps transformation didn’t stop after training.
After spending season after season building the basketball program at Boys and Girls Club Ramona Gardens, Serena was awarded the 2018 Coach of Year Award at Coaching Corps’ San Francisco Game Changer Awards. It was clear she was nothing like the coaches she had growing up–her empathy and dedication made for an exceptional coaching career, earning her the opportunity to give her voice to a movement.
“Winning that award changed my life. Entirely. It was really game-changing for me. Being at that gala was the first time people had really listened to my story and it was the first time I was like ‘Wow, people really care. People care about these kids and my community.’” And that inspired her to dream bigger.
After that night, Serena coached two more seasons at Ramona Gardens, graduated from CSU Los Angeles, and began studying for the LSAT, ready to attend law school in 2021. She’s determined to continue changing the game for kids like the ones she coached all those years by getting people to change the way they think about her community and step in to give back.
“I really think that sports can be a catalyst for change and we really, really make a difference in the community. Making sure that we’re there for them and showing up for them. If people are just trying to educate themselves and give back, this is how you can do it.”
Thank you, Serena, for your commitment to our kids on and off the courts and for your dedication to leveling the playing field. If you want to share your Coaching Corps journey and the ways you’re giving back now, let us know! Contact Steven Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org