The Kickoff

How time flies they say, just yesterday, I took my intern ID picture, received my building pass and cubicle. Now, I am a certified MVP trainer after attending the rigorous, interesting and explicit three day training. I was exposed to real life scenarios and experiences that alleviated my thought and decision-making process. The society almost creates a lifestyle of which one must be emulate to be accepted. Men’s violence against women are some of the many lifestyles that the society has forced us to believe that it is normal. The institute propelled me to believe that women are the victims of the world in many instances be it, violence, taunt, appearance and discussions. This shameful act is evolving over the years that even the 7th graders at Hurley Middle School, where I play a big brother role to middle school students, a partnership Sports in Society has with the school, has emulated and caused harms to our society today. These 7th grade students have inherited some of our societal flaws, enabling them to violate women and objectified them and not making them an equal. For example, during a volley ball game, some of the boys refused to play or/and pair up with the girls insinuating that they are the weaker sex and have no knowledge of the game. This is the type of knowledge the society instills in many of our young youths today, creating a differentiation between both gender. They tend to create a notion that they are superior over the females and as a result, should be given utmost respect and praise. Attending that three day conference has broaden my knowledge about men’s violence against women and the role we as “Men” have to play in the society to promote love. Speaking of the roles, over the weeks at Sports in Society, I have since developed a better idea of the many roles I can play in the organization
My experience here at Sports in Society has been

At first, I was unsure of the role I could play but now, I fully understand the goals, activities and expectations of the organization. This change was as a result to the MVP institute, the partnership with the Hurley School, several trainings and professional development/Seminar series provided by the society. Although my long commute and sleepless nights seemed to pose a major treat, I was determined to gaining the best experience here at sports in Society and fully understand the role of sports in our society. Sports speaks in many languages that nearly none other can, that is why it is important to use in a developing a strong society. My experience here at Sports in Society for the school year may soon come to an end, but the network, knowledge and experience that I have garnered from my short time has propelled me to the self realization that everyone is their own capacity have a role to uplifting the society and whether be it in sports, dancing or teaching, they are the change we seek. Although I might have a short time with the organization, I am determined to making the best and leaving behind an exemplary legacy. Hence, the kickoff to a successful period of continuous learning, improvement and growth has began

Back to the Basics

Last week we hosted another one of our seminar series events.  The topic was Understanding Human Resources Management and Employment Law.  Rick Arrowood, a professor in the Master of Science in Nonprofit Management at Northeastern, gave the lecture. I enjoyed attending this seminar and learned a lot. I remember someone made the comment after the event that Rick has a way of making complex things seem so simple and understandable. I completely agree with this comment. With little knowledge of the nonprofit sector, all of the concepts and ideas Rick has talked about are new to me. However, he explains everything in basic terms. He gives real examples and cites relevant cases that bring to life the ideas. I like that he has catered the material specifically to that of a Sports Based Youth Development organizations and this has made the lectures even more interesting.

For the past few weeks, Prince and I have been helping out the P.E. classes at the Hurley School, a Boston Public School that is within walking distance from our office. The school is entirely bilingual, but many of the students speak even more than just two languages.  Each week I find myself impressed with the first grade class that completes their warm-up stretches by counting in four different languages. The classes are now currently on their basketball unit, which is especially fun for me as basketball is my favorite sport. It has been fun to teach the basics of the game to the students. I currently am an assistant coach of my college team at Tufts and have not coached younger players in a few years. It’s quite a different experience coaching these young students who have little or no basketball knowledge than it is coaching a college team. It has been both challenging and enjoyable to force myself to think about the very basic basketball movements and rules.  Explaining a layup to a first grader requires me to use straightforward vocabulary and to break down the simple basketball play into smaller and more understandable pieces.  With a more limited attention span of the students, the skills must be taught in a fun and engaging way.  I recently read a book on John Wooden, a famous college basketball coach whose leadership style and coaching tips are widely publicized.  Wooden broke down his teaching into four core components: demonstration, imitation, correction and repetition.  This is a great way to coach athletes at all levels.  Each component will look a bit different between the college team and the first grade class, but is a useful framework for me for both populations.

After the holidays we have exciting events and projects to continue to work on.  I am looking forward to continuing to make progress on our intern project with Matt and I am excited for the next event, which is a panel discussion on Increasing Female Participation in Sports.

Off to Middle School

After completing the MVP Institute in October, I was quite confident about moderating conversations on racial and sexual discrimination. Shortly after, Brian and I were assigned to one of Sport in Society’s many Project Teamwork facilitations at the Point Webster School in Quincy, MA. Project Teamwork centers more around bullying than racial or sexual prejudice. The kids are in middle school and boy is it a different experience than talking to a room full of concerned adults. Many of them clearly know the “correct” answers and spit them out in the shortest possible form to avoid explicit genuine involvement. It’s nostalgic in a bizarre way. Connecting to the students on a basic level is easy. We ask them questions: they give us responses. The hard part is engaging them on a conversational level.

There are twenty-five students and I have yet to hear a disagreement between them.  The MVP Institute spoiled me with heartfelt conversation stemming from a number of rational, emotional and personal perspectives on an issue that affects us all deeply. In the case of bullying, the kids seem almost desensitized to the topic. Thankfully there are a few who genuinely seem to care. One girl in particular has raised the issue of cyber bullying numerous times so it is clear that though we may not be getting through to a number of the kids, there are a few who certainly value the trainings. It has been an eye opening experience. I remember these sorts of classes when I was in school and how little I paid attention then. Now I understand the value of these conversations and wish I had heard more at that age. The raging chaos of hormones and developing social consciousness make it incredibly hard to know what values one stands for and how to actualize them, but with these conversations the seed of conscious thought is planted and slowly they will begin to choose for themselves what is and is not worth fighting for.

 

Valuable Lessons from Executive Directors

On Thursday November 21, we had the opportunity to learn from local SBYD organization’s best practices on running and operating a nonprofit organization. In a panel discussion, executive directors David Cohen (Doc Wayne), Stas Gayshan, (Space with a Soul), and Mary McVeigh (Soccer Without Borders) shared their insight on finance, accounting, and different ways of bringing outside parties in in their organization.

While working in the field of sport-based youth development, I learned sport and child development are combined on various levels. One important task of an ED is to continue to ensure that operational practices work towards this child development. “You wear many different hats,” but this makes you become less involved with the ground-work of the organization. Cohen spends quite a lot of time with the kids in his program. He knew little of the prevalence of violence in the city of Boston before joining Doc Wayne, but “it happens in our backyard”. To all panelists, knowing their program and making sure they remember why they got into the job helps them to really get to love their job. To Gayshan, work is not really work, “it is something I love.”

Running a nonprofit organization will teach you many valuable lessons. Learning how to say “no” was most valuable for McVeigh. To her, saying no had a negative connotation and could potentially narrow down opportunities for the program. But when her decision not to sustain one program resulted in other programs to become stronger, she understood the benefits. Saying “no” became easier for Cohen when he saw that it helps to keep the focus on Doc Wayne’s mission. In fact, Gayshan recommends that we reframe “saying no” as “opportunity management”.

Panelists noted the need to find people that buy into the organization’s mission, both on an organizational and operational level. McVeigh noted the importance of matching employee skill sets with appropriate task; for example, she keeps the coaches that have built trust with the children involved in the ground work where they work best, instead of giving them administrative and office jobs. Gayshan pointed out that universities should do a better job prepare students to work for nonprofit organizations. Teaching them to “open up their mind and think in solutions” will prepare them to “manage opportunities”. 

Towards the end of the panel discussion, panelists spoke to the benefit of partnerships and collaborations, which allow a nonprofit organization to focus on their priorities. According to Gayshan, “outsourcing takes some tasks of your plate.” This helps the staff to focus on the mission. “Consider help with administrative tasks and seek help with other organization that have the know-how” says David Cohen. He reached out to several other organizations when time was not on his three-people staff’s side. A partnership can also mean that you share a space with other organizations. Soccer Without Borders exchanged ideas on various organizational levels with Metro Lacrosse “because they were just down the hallway”.

This panel discussion provided me a new perspective on the SBYD programs I worked with these past months. There is definitely great knowledge behind the programs that makes all this work possible.