The calm before the storm

Sport in Society was firing on all cylinders this week. Between the Ron Thomas Panel Discussion on Race in Media and the Junior Coach Leadership Convention it’s been busy (and that’s the understatement of the century). Oh wait what? It’s only been a four day long week? It felt like a 90-hour week of back breaking labor.

The Ron Thomas Event was enlightening to say the least. America’s sports media has always been a joke to me. I thought sports journalists were always the misfits who couldn’t write well, so the editor would approach their desk and politely assign them to cover a local sporting event, giving them a basic template to follow. (No offense Matt!). At least that’s how my high school newspaper’s editor did it. Well Ron Thomas, Adrian Walker, and Derrick Jackson quickly changed my pre-conception as soon as they took the mic. From their perspective, sports journalism isn’t an occupation, it’s a movement. Their writing is fueled by the social and racial injustice that beholds America’s sports industry. Until minority players and coaches are fully represented in sports like the NFL, MLB, NBA, and the NCAA, these men and women in the sports writing world will continue their struggle. You’d think that we’ve made significant progress as a society since the Civil Rights Movement and Women’s Rights Movement right? Wrong. This so-called progress is used more as an excuse by those white males in powerful positions when they’re accused of being racially or sexually biased. Don’t let the high number of black athletes in the NCAA blind you. These same athletes are propelled forward into college sports by recruiting coaches who could care less what reading level they are at. They are filled with false hope of making it to the pros when in reality the average college player doesn’t play pro, and the average pro NFL player’s career lasts only three years! When these athletes fail to make it to the show, where do they go then? Most likely to the unemployment line, or their mom’s basement.

There are viable alternatives though. In order to give black coaches a better possibility of being hired by NFL teams, the Rooney Rule was instituted in the NFL in order to require teams hiring managers to interview minority applicants. The Pittsburgh Steelers successfully hired Mike Tomlin due to the Rooney Rule. Tomlin has led the Steelers to the postseason 4 out of his 5 years, and has won a Championship. This is an example of a successful policy that promotes racial equality in sports. It can be done as long as people in power are willing to sacrifice their comfortable position out of the spotlight. I’m sure many people, and journalists would commend an owner or general manager who took the minority’s interests into consideration.

The Junior Coach Leadership Convention (JCLC) was on a totally different note. Yet, not a note of lesser importance. Kids indeed are our future, and their upbringing is essential to how they will stand as adults. I remember when I was a 5th grader, and bullying on the playground was a daily occurrence. My best friend in 4th grade used to be my biggest tormentor in 1st grade. Teaching the kids at JCLC about how to prevent bullying is like walking on a bed of hot coals. How do you tell them which kind of teasing is acceptable and which kind is worth reporting to a teacher? You don’t want the kids to keep their mouths shut when they witness bullying, but you don’t want them to turn into Randel from the T.V. show “Recess”. You want the kids to feel a sense of comfort in their own skin, but you don’t want them to become whiny and arrogant. I was really impressed by their ability to resolve issues on the playground with a simple game of rock-paper-scissors. The beautiful mind of a child can be molded like clay. I hope by the time they’re my age (20) they are healthy, and open-minded to diversity.

I really love this coop though. On Tuesday, I smugly walked into my apartment holding the left over cheese plate from the Ron Thomas Event, my roommates were like “Where the hell did you get that from dude!” I jokingly replied, “This is my paycheck dude. I get paid in cheese at my coop. It’s awesome…” Fortunately, I do get paid at this coop in real money, so I can afford more cheese when I run out, but the real payment comes in my own development as an individual, and gaining a broader perspective on the community I live and work in.

Now that I’m fully woven into Sport in Society’s fabric, this co-op is my oyster. Whatever I want to do with it is up to me to decide. Do I want to focus on building an evaluation survey to analyze how efficient the Y allocates its resources and retains its teen participants, or do I want to organize cool events for the Ys? Either way I want to change the world for the better. I’ve fully embraced my role as a soldier for social justice, but the question of how to fight still remains.

By Charlie Pioli

Ready, Set, Go

“How have classes been going? What are your plans for the spring? What do you mean by co-op? ”

Looking back to just about two months ago, I wish I could go back to the Nolan family Christmas party and better explain what I’m really doing this semester.  With an overwhelming crowd of 14 aunts and uncles and 35 plus cousins and their families, everyone was eager to get life updates.  My explanation of what I anticipated for co-op was pretty feeble…more often than not I got a puzzled look followed by “sounds interesting, good luck!” I knew how excited I was to start working at Sport in Society, but I couldn’t really explain what it is that I would be doing.

Perhaps the best part about co-oping at Sport in Society is that it isn’t the easiest to explain, because this co-op is very unlike others.  With the main responsibility of the five co-ops being to use capacity building techniques in the YMCA’s of the Greater Boston area, there is something different to do everyday.

I spend two days a week outside of the SIS office, one day at the Oak Square YMCA in Brighton and one day at the Roxbury YMCA. The drastic contrast in the programs and development between the two YMCA’s really surprised me.  So far, I’ve already had the opportunity to meet a lot of great staff members at both Y’s and get a sense of what the need is. What I am most eager to do now is to dive into it all and make the most out of the 6 months I am here.  

So far, I’ve already begun working with the Teen Director at the Roxbury YMCA to brainstorm methods for creating a volunteer system. Because the staff and funds are limited for the Roxbury Y, volunteers are crucial in order to run teen events. I’ve also started to help plan a day of community service for the teens that go to the Roxbury YMCA for March.  At the Brighton YMCA, I’ve been working with the teen director to promote new programs such as “Femme Fit”, which is a bi weekly that encourages more female participation in athletics.

After lots of familiarization, guidance, and team building I’m ready to go. I’m ready to build capacity and make some sort of lasting impression at the YMCA’s. I’m anticipating a great experience, as it has proven to be so far. I’m eager to see what will come of my time at Sport in Society.

By Emily Nolan

A Week in the Life With…

My name is Eric Wahlberg. I am a one of the 6 coops who work at Sport in Society. As part of working for Sport in Society, I am assigned to work at 2 different Y’s in the Boston area as well as volunteer at community events. After being employed for a little over a month now I am finally getting into a consistent groove where my personal progress can be measured.

Working with The Y has been the highlight of working for Sport in Society so far. Specifically, I am working with the Teen Directors at the Dorchester and Hyde Park branches. My responsibilities include helping with administrative work, developing new activities and programs and direct service with teens. On an administrative level I have cataloged teens that have frequented the facilities who the Y would like to continue initiating contact with to hopefully have them become full members. On the development side I have worked on a curriculum for a weekly teen group that helps raise awareness of social issues and gives tips on getting a competitive advantage in the real world. This week I generated a list of 30 popular mock interview questions for the teens to practice. These questions were accompanied with useful tips on how to best prepare and respond to these questions.

Direct service has been the most challenging and rewarding experience I have had so far at the Y. The challenging parts so far have been the motivation factor and physical activity. Motivation has to do with getting the teens to want to work on their homework. Understandably, doing homework is something that all of us would rather not do if given the opportunity but being at such a vulnerable age it is important to teach good habits. After enough persistence and routine, the teens have grown accustomed to the idea of doing homework before they can continue on to more fun activities. The other challenging part of direct service has been the physical activity. It has not been challenging for the teens but it has been for me. If you asked me 5 weeks ago, I would have told you that I considered myself to be in decent shape and could hold my own on the basketball court. Well, now all of my confidence has been shattered by 12 year olds. Not only have I been tossed around but I have consistently had my shots blocked by teen’s barely taller than 5 feet.  Talk about aggravating.

Working at The Y has not been the only thing that I have done. This past Saturday, at the wee hour of 10am, I volunteered at a Double Dutch tournament which Sport in Society sponsors. When I agreed to volunteer for this I was not sure what to expect. I was blown away to see an overcrowded gymnasium packed with competitors and their families. My responsibilities were to set up tables, organize trophies, and be an official clocker in the speed round of the tournament. I just have to say how without a doubt this was the most fun I had on an early Saturday morning in a very long time! The people were friendly, the tournament was extremely organized, and the energy was high. Congratulations to all of the competitors and thank you to all of the volunteers who made this tournament possible!

The experience I will gain from working at Sport in Society is completely up to me. The more work I put in the more I will learn. This is a great opportunity and I am so glad I chose to work here for my Spring 2012 coop. I hope you enjoyed the summary of my week in a nut shell and you will hear more from me in a few weeks. Until then enjoy the other great stories from the other 5 coops in the following weeks!



By Eric Wahlberg


If there is one thing that I have learned in life it is the importance of gaining perspective. To surround yourself with different people,  communities, experiences, and personalities is vital. In 7th grade I went to an extremely “ritzy” private school. It was a great school – but it was just not for me. When I transferred to a public school in downtown Atlanta, I gained a perspective that I would not trade for the world. Life is not all wealthy people waiting for their Dartmouth acceptance letter . There are millions of things going on in the world and as humans, it is tough to see the whole picture. We are all somewhat stuck in our own heads.

A friend once told me, “You have to live for something other than yourself. That is the only way to obtain happiness.” He was absolutely right. No matter what you do – if you have SOMETHING – you should help SOMEONE. Make it go full circle. That is the key. This is why Sport in Society is such a great co-op to be lucky enough to be a part of. Not only are we gaining office and work experience, we are getting to go out into the world – outside of our “comfort zone” – and do what everyone should be doing some of – helping people.

The YMCA that I have been assigned to is in Egleston Square in Roxbury. I take the 22 from Ruggles and it is about 2.5 miles away from the Northeastern campus. I love it. We have so many ideas and plans that we want to implement and it is just such a rewarding experience. The Egleston YMCA is not as advanced as the others – but that is partly what makes it so special. It is homey for the kids that come in and I would assume for the staff as well. So far I have made binders organizing names of volunteers, performed outreach for the Junior Pathways SAT Program coming up, and made a powerpoint of pictures that the teens can see when they come into the Y. Will and Michele (the directors) have wonderful ideas on how to enhance the Egleston Square Teen Center that include but are not limited to: having a gym fitness program to complete before being able to use the facilities, female group meetings on Saturdays, and incorporating film, music, art, and dance into activities.

The hours are also split up really well – two days a week we are at our designated YMCA’s, and the other three days we are in the office. We have our cool little corner in the back on the 4th floor of the Belvedere building and we are all becoming really close.

The first month is now over and I could not be more excited for the next five. The same goes with the other co-ops and interns. When reading this blog, there is a pattern that you see. The fact that this is not a normal co-op experience. We are getting so much more out of this than the average co-op job, and I am just so excited about all of the work ahead.

By: Jessy Segall