James Byrd, a single parent of two middle school girls in Berkeley, CA, knows his daughters – Asha and Nia – learn a lot through playing sports. They learn the value of hard work, he says, and what it means to be part of team. “I think it’s a great way for them to do something constructive with their time and stay healthy,” he says.

When James looked into club sports, the expenses were too high for his family. That’s why he says he’s glad his daughters get a chance to play through their school’s afterschool sports program. At a recent soccer practice, he watched  Asha run drills, and quickly spelled out the many benefits of the program: “It’s almost free. It’s very convenient [because] it’s right after school, at the same site,” he says. “It allows parents like me to go to work and know that [our kids are] doing something really fun and constructive after school.”

He knows volunteer coaches are a big part of the reason the afterschool sports program is so successful. James says his daughters learn a lot from their coaches, like leadership and what it means to give back. He says he has even heard Asha and Nia talking about wanting to become coaches themselves.

One of Asha’s soccer coaches this season is Coaching Corps volunteer Jenny Zhang, a UC Berkeley Student. Coaching Corps puts a special emphasis on recruiting female coaches like Jenny, so girls feel more comfortable getting in the game.

James says this push pays off.  “I really value [my daughters] being around dynamic, intelligent, athletic women coaches,” he says. “Seeing a young woman as a coach, it’s a lot easier for them to visualize themselves being like that person at that age when they get a little bit older and go to college.”

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