On Sunday, Jan. 27, the Lord Jeffs partnered with Smith College outreach organization Project Coach to host roughly 40 Springfield high-schoolers for a coaching clinic at LeFrak Gym.
Since its founding in 2003 by two Smith faculty members—Sam Intrator, professor of education and child study, and Donald Siegel, professor of exercise and sport studies—Project Coach has steadily expanded its programming and number of participants. Project Coach started with a core belief that sports can act as a positive vehicle to enhance the lives of children, families and communities. The program employs elementary-aged students and teens from Holyoke and Springfield as coaches and mentors, who learn and develop their leadership and coaching skills working with Smith faculty, staff and graduate students. The participating coaches lead their own teams, in basketball, soccer and other sports.
Sometimes mentoring is hard and it feels like it is not working. I felt like this when two of my three high school mentees did not show up for one of our weekly commitments. It hurt. I wondered if I had done something wrong, if they had lost interest in the program, and even if this was something worth investing my time in. But then I realized that the girl who did show up was courageously taking on the challenge of running our afternoon tutoring session by herself. She had the 4th graders sitting at the table, getting out their homework and writing utensils.