Community Leaders in T-Hawk Nation

The 135 Spring Classic 3 v 3 Basketball Tournament kicked off without a hitch on the morning of May 26, 2013. Players, organizers, and spectators gathered together to sing the national anthem to kick the day off right. With rain clouds looming, Nic Zanghi, and fellow graduating senior and co-organizer, Tom Beck, took to the bull horn to announce the day’s first match-up on the main court. The day proceeded with riveting games ending in extra points and major upsets, while the unwavering high energy from crowd made the park feel like “our own March Madness”. The players spanned the ages from high school freshman to college freshman, each one trying harder than the next to out-score and out-hustle their opponents.

            “Most of us hang out playing pick-up games here all the time, shooting for teams, and just playing ball.” said Beck, who was not able to play due to an ACL injury sustain in the beginning of his senior varsity basketball season. “Then one day about three weeks ago, Nic [Zanghi] proposed the idea that we organize a tournament. When he asked me to help run it, I was immediately interested. I always want to be around the game as much as possible, even if I can’t play.”

            Beck emphasized the immense amount of time that was spent over the next three weeks meeting and exchanging texts with Zanghi, as they debated and discussed the logistics of the tournament. With the cooperation of the 40-plus tournament participants, Zanghi and Beck evaluated talent, and made teams fairly with seedings to follow. The 135 Spring Classic was set to be played rain or shine. Zanghi, aka The Commissioner, and Beck were not satisfied allowing this to be just an average 3 v 3 basketball tournament. Their entrepreneurial spirit lead them to team with tournament participants, Zach Gittlen and Jesse Vaughn, to find a sponsor. They approached Q’Doba, where Gittlen and Vaughn are employed, to speak with the marketing team. By the end of the meeting, the boys had convinced Q’Doba that this tournament consisted entirely of their target demographic and that free samples and T-shirts are often rewarded with repeat business.

            From 10am until tournament’s end, around 2pm, the crowd remained at capacity, only losing participants to employment obligations. There was nothing for any passer by to complain about except for excessive cheering and friendly trash talk.The first annual 135 Spring Classic in Northborough was an inspiring and uncommon example of the power of youth and community. Beck and Zanghi are not your typical high school leaders, and thanks to their success at this event and the high demand for repeated occurrences, we hope that this is the beginning of a trend of youth-lead community organizing.

            Thank you to Jess Carlin, Rachel O’Sullivan, and Tatiana Colindres for their volunteered assistance in the game-day tournament operations. Congratulations to Luke Serra, Michael Baker, and Matt Powell for winning the tournament! Also, a shout out to Sean Hill for being awarded the Tournament MVP, for leading his last-seeded team into the Final Four.

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Press Release / Blog Post

Pete Berman, Director of Operations, Coaching For Change, Inc.

5/27/2013

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Filed under physical fitness, Uncategorized, youth community leaders, youth sports

Meet Pete

Name: Pete Berman
Role at C4C: Director of Operations
Director of Operations

Director of Operations

 Why are you involved with C4C?:
This is a bit of a loaded question, but in summary there are 2 main reasons I am involved with C4C.
1) I love basketball (and most sports). I strongly believe the power of basketball and other sports stretches far beyond physical activity and learned technical skills. Sports have the power to bridge international divides, teach leadership skills, and to develop social skills and meaningful relationships.
2) I always despised sitting through school classes, and see this as my opportunity to help build a curriculum that will be widely accepted by all. It can be argued that education is the key to success, but it’s hard to accept the common methods of educating as sufficient. At C4C we push the boundaries of education to create relatable material and interactive learning experiences with opportunities to apply all learned skills and concepts. I feel strongly about the idea of continual growth and learning, and see an opportunity to create a program and system that is constantly evolving and growing to best suit those we serve. When there are so many kids dropping out, failing out, and coasting through school with very little effort, it can’t always be the blamed on the student. At some point we as educators need figure out what we can do to make our lessons more impactful and effective, while creating a positive, inviting and inclusive atmosphere.
 
Favorite sport: Basketball
Favorite song:  
Favorite song changes weekly, maybe even daily. Two of my all time favorite artists are Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson.
 
Favorite subject in high school: 
Dictators (history) + Memoirs (writing)
 
First job: 
 My first job in high school was working 9 hours per week at Sudbury Extended Day working with the Kindergarten age group. I was 16 then. Once I graduated from college, my first adult job was Co-Director of a summer basketball day camp at St. Agnes of Bohemia on the south side of Chicago.

Favorite book/movie: 
Book – Outliers by Malcom Gladwell ; Movies – Wedding Crashers / Good Will Hunting
 
Most embarrassing high school moment: 
 I am having a hard time pin-pointing a specific embarrassing high school moment. Clearly, I did a good job blocking most of it out. However, I do remember walking into a doorway (or 4) while my focus was fixed on the pretty girls around me. As you can imagine, it drew some good laughs.
 
“When I grow up ….”:
 When I grow up I want to find a way to positively impact the lives of everyone around me through laughter, learning, and the game of basketball.
 
“Education/Basketball/Coaching is…” (pick one)
 Basketball is the greatest game ever invented. It combines athletic prowess, with grace and carefully skilled movements, while requiring sportsmanship, effective leadership and teamwork to be truly successful. When played properly, Basketball is both beautiful and inspiring.
 
“Coaching for Change is …” 
Coaching For Change is my vehicle for success. C4C combines two of my biggest passions, basketball and education, which means that I get to wake up every day and go to work doing something that I love to do.  When faced with the choice between happiness and monetary wealth, I am only fulfilled if I am happy. Luckily, C4C provides me with a constant state of happiness.

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Coaching For Change Program Model

Coaching For Change was founded on the idea of expanding the role of athletics beyond play, by creating an infrastructure that empowers and mobilizes young people to be highly skilled thinkers, visionaries and leaders. Our founding team understands the disparities communities face in having access to physical activity, educational equity, and economic mobility.  Coaching For Change program model is designed to teach skills that prepare young people for the 21st Century.

Coaching For Change mission is to equip young people with the skills and opportunities they need to thrive in today’s workforce, using sports, project planning and community engagement as vehicles for success.

Coaching For Change (C4C) uses a tiered model where college students train teenagers to coach and mentor elementary students. While our lens is coaching and physical activity, we are teaching skills needed to succeed in college and the workplace. Our college students act as mentors and teachers in the program. The teenage participants gain mentors, job skills and experience which can lead to economic mobility. Together they engage in hands-on management tactics to help build confidence, sharpen organization skills, and test leadership concepts. Our elementary participants benefit from improved health tips and a steady increase of physical activity through sports based programs.

C4C partners with colleges/university to recruit, train, and place college students as volunteers coaches in communities where we run after school programs. In the past 22 months, C4C has created 15 afterschool sports opportunities in the Greater Brockton Community and Boston that has served over 250 kids between the ages of 6-18, who all lived in low-income communities.

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COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Community Development can mean different things to different people.  However, in its simplest form it is “people helping people improve their life conditions by addressing common interest.”  Through Coaching For Change (C4C), we believe that changes begins in our own communities, and that the members of our communities are the best ones to make the change. For the city of Brockton, we believe that there are two major issues affecting our community: education/career pathways and childhood obesity. Through partnerships, we empower our community to work together to identify the problem, come up with solutions and make it all happen!

As the summer time approaches, we think of perfect weather, BBQs and beaches.  Teens and young Imageadults are getting ready for summer break which is filled with fun and friends. For many teens, during the summer, every day is a Saturday, free of responsibility and full of unsupervised hours to spend with friends.  C4C sees this as an opportunity to use fun recreational activity and sports to connect teens with positive role models and turn them into role models for their community.  With youth employment on the decline and the increase in major social inequalities, C4C uses sports to employ teens while they learn about leadership.

In Brockton, MA the Education and Workforce Training Taskforce reported that youth lack the opportunities they need to develop the skills neccessary to succeed in today’s global economy.  Majority of the youth population face low literacy, poverty, language barriers, low skill attainment and health issues as a challenge to their success.  Research has also shown the decline in skill, information, and academic retention that occurs during the summer months. This is why Coaching For Change believes in continuing relevant skill development, social support, and academic mentoring during the summer months.

C4C uses the summer break as an opportunity to enhance teen skills development for college and/or the workplace.  Through sports we create a learning environment that challenges and connects them with positive mentors in both formal and informal environments (e.g., sporting events, theater, professional development). The program uses a hands on approach to educate and get teenagers involved in the process of individual empowerment and creating community change by getting kids more active.

The summer provides us with so many opportunities to collaborate with groups and organizations who are reaching out to youth. We are excited to begin the summer by hosting our Leadership and Business Academy, our summer camps and clinics, and our field trips!

How will you use your summer to learn about and contribute to a sustainable social and economic development?

–Marquis and Liza


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MAKE IT HAPPEN

This past week, news feeds have been filled with graduation speeches, notable graduation speakers, highlights of advice, lessons “I wish I had known” and stories of celebration and achievement. Facebook and Twitter are buzzing with happy family photos, smiling faces, diplomas, and graduation parties.

While it is a time to celebrate the hard work and achievements, the endurance and the triumphs, and the challenges and successes of our graduates, it’s impossible not to wonder what happened (or will happen) to those who did not graduate?

Launched by America’s Promise Alliance in 2010, a movement called “Grad Nation” is working to end America’s dropout crisis by engaging organizations, individuals and communities who realize the impact that the drop out rate has on our economy and on the life choices of our young people. According to Grad Nation 2012, the high school drop out rate claims more than “one million students each year, costing individuals the loss of potential earnings and the nation hundreds of billions of dollars in lost revenue.” Hundreds of billions. Ensuring that our young people persist and succeed in high school is about making sure they are engaged in critical thinking, analysis, historical foundations, basic skills of reading/writing — which, of course, are vitally important. But, to not invest in them means that we, in turn, are not investing in our own success as well.

The success of our young people has a national impact. 

“Building a Grad Nation 2012″ highlights some key economic outcomes

of improving the high school and college graduation rates:

  • higher education results in higher earnings for individuals
  • higher education lowers costs to taxpayers — moving just one student from dropout status to graduate status yields more than $200,000 in higher tax revenue and lower government expenditures
  • education helps to close the skills gap and ensures that America remains competitive
  • improved education boosts the nation’s economic growth

It’s exciting for us to see that Coaching For Change has really focused on these key areas as well. Because we offer paid apprenticeships, we equip our students with the skills and knowledge to be competitive in a global environment while also contributing to their financial stability.  It was not enough for us to just say, “Work hard. Stay in school.” We needed to provide structural — and financial — support for our students to make it possible!

 

By providing a cross-age mentoring program, our college partners inspire our high school students to stay on the path towards  graduation and college attendance; our high school students work closely with our elementary and middle school students, decreasing the pipeline of young people who are underprepared and underserved.

At Coaching For Change, we seek to develop partnerships with civic leaders, community organizations, and corporations who want to be a part of community change. Together, we can increase opportunities for economic improvement, decrease the high school drop out rate, and develop our next generation of leaders.

Coaching tomorrow’s leaders, starting today. 

Liza

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BREATHE

“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived — that is to have succeeded.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s usually in great times of crisis when we witness the importance of community support. When someone is hurt, in need, or struggling, we seek support from our friends, family, and members of the community. As we all know, different people — different communities — experience support in various ways.

 

In our daily lives, we don’t always notice our breath. We don’t notice our breathing. It’s just a part of who we are and what we do. But, when that breath is taken away, when it is limited, we begin to feel the weight on our chest, the heaviness in our heart, and the struggle just to stay alive. We panic. We grasp for whatever we can. We wonder what will happen next.

 

In our communities, we have been breathing in inequity in education. But, we haven’t noticed it because we are so used to feeling the heaviness and restriction. We’ve become used to the difficulty. We’ve become used breathing limitations, lack of opportunity, and lack of care.

 

But, Coaching For Change wants to change that. We work with communities and kids to show them just how good breathing — when it’s unrestricted —  feels. We show them what can happen when they invest into their communities; when they invest in themselves. While we often talk about the business of Coaching For Change through our programs, sport clinics, after school events, and in-school enrichment, the foundation of Coaching For Change is really about love. It’s about caring. It’s about support.

 

For those of us involved in Coaching For Change, this has never been just a job. It is a lifestyle. Hundreds of hours planning, coaching, working, thinking, and practicing go into making Coaching For Change a huge success; but it’s really the infinite love we have for what we do that drives our success. It’s the importance of knowing that what we do helps others to breathe more freely. More easily.

 

In communities that are under-served and under-resourced, we need to pay extra attention to the emotional support that we give our students. We make sure they know that we believe in both their potential and their contributions. We make sure they feel appreciated, valued, and understood when they come to work. Though they know we have high expectations for them, they also know they are loved.

 

But, what, exactly, is the crisis we are waiting for in education? What more must happen before we actively make changes to meet the needs of our students in these communities? Data about completion, retention, graduation, and career success along with the narratives of our students have already given us compelling reasons to get involved, to get active, and to get upset about the inequities in education.

 

Every day, we take for granted that one breath will follow another. And another. And another.

 

But, at Coaching For Change, we know that breathing comes easier for some than others; in some communities than others. That is why our work, our commitment, and our organization is so important. But, the work isn’t just for our kids — it’s for us, too. Coaching For Change reminds us of our responsibility to make sure that each person we meet can breathe easier.  That they have the opportunities and pathways to breathe.

 

For us, that is success. 

 

(Get well soon, Big Guy)

 

–Liza and Marquis

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