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Take Your Team to College Day – UCLA

Research from Johns Hopkins University shows America is facing a severe high school dropout crisis, with 1.2 million students dropping out each year – one every 26 seconds.  The vast majority of those kids dropping out are girls and boys from low-income communities.

Coaching Corps has never been about sports for the sake of sports. We are about the kids who need the most but have the least amount of opportunity to access it. This includes exposure to options after high school, like college. Sports are simply the vehicle we use to teach our kids the life-long lessons that will help them succeed on and off the field.

Take Your Team to College Day aims to prepare at-risk kids for academic and social success by clearly connecting them with college and career options, building relationships between youth and role model mentors and coaches from their communities, exposing them to college life and using a sports-based model to teach hard work and motivation.

On February 8th, 2013, 14 middle school students from America SCORES LA came to the UCLA campus for Coaching Corps’ UCLA Chapter’s Take Your Team to College Day.  Coaching Corps chapter leaders spent the day showcasing the athletic opportunities available at UCLA while emphasizing the importance of academic success.

The event began with a campus tour with Matias Fritz, the chapter director of Athletic Engagement, Matias Friz. The young players experienced UCLA’s remarkable athletic history by visiting the Athletic Hall of Fame, John Wooden Center and the track.

They also learned fun facts about UCLA like how the university was the first to earn 100 NCAA titles and has had so many successful athletes involved in the Olympics that if it were a country it would be in the top 10 for medals won. The last stop of the tour and the highlight of the day was Pauley Pavilion where the kids were given a private tour by the UCLA Director of Recreation Mick Deluca.

The event concluded with a panel, moderated by Coaching Corps Chapter President Cameron Hajialiakbar. On the panel were Chapter Director of Athletic Engagement Matias Friz, who explained how there are other ways to become involved in sports on campus and talked about his experience with broadcasting UCLA volleyball and soccer games; Maya Harris, a member of the UCLA Dance Team, who spoke about good habits to develop in high school that help prepare for college; Warren Hardie, a UCLA tennis player who was recruited by the school gave examples of how time management is key to maintaining balance when being a student athlete; and Kola Awe, a Gates Millennium scholar and walk-on UCLA football player, spoke about how his passion and ambition has gotten him where he is.

“Our panel discussion exposed the kids to career opportunities that would allow them to stay involved with sports even if they do not go on to become professional athletes,” said Cameron.  “They were excited and eager to ask questions and this is the most successful Coaching Corps’ event at UCLA thus far. It will serve as a standard for future events on campus as we strive to continue to raise the bar.”

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