Practicing Fitness and Volleyball Games at Training Camp.
The first day of training camp is the official start to a new season of Project Coach, and the beginning of our relationship with the new teens entering the program. Today, twenty five teens rode the bus up to Smith College to spend the entire day learning about Project Coach, communication skills, and coaching volleyball and fitness. We started the day with a few ice breakers as many of the coaches were brand new to the program. Then coaches met in their home teams (groups led by one of the Smith College graduate students) to check in and prepare for the day. After that, it was a fast paced, high energy day with lessons on communicating effectively, developing healthy assets, communicating in different contexts, and communicating as a coach. It was wonderful to see returning coaches becoming much stronger communicators than they were just 5 months ago. At the same time it was great to see the new coaches practicing their "coaching voice" and stepping outside their comfort zone. The day really helped establish the key skill in Project Coach -- Communication!
Another exciting part of the day came when we discussed how Project Coach works to prepare kids for college and careers. First, students had to act out or perform the mission statement of Project Coach. By performing the mission statement, they learned right away that we focus on communication as a way to prepare them for college. Later, we played College Skills Bingo and discussed all of the workshops and trips PC offers to help students achieve their college goals. Since four members of our veteran coaching staff are in college, they shared some of their experiences with their groups. Our new middle school coaches talked excitedly about already beginning the college process. Altogether, creating a community of learners with college as the goal helps all of our teens reach their potential and prioritize education.
Huddle after Volleyball Game
To end the day, coaches rotated through three stations of volleyball and fitness games that they will run with their young players. Since many of the coaches enjoy being active and playing volleyball, this portion brought lots of energy and excitement to the group. The coaches worked on the three steps to a great game introduction: Name and Explain, Model and Demonstrate, and Play and Fix. Using this structure, coaches are able to get the kids playing quickly but also help them play correctly. They practiced incorporating fitness activities into the game to keep the kids active, healthy, and getting great physical exercise while at Project Coach.
At the end of the day, coaches completed a formative assessment in their home teams and debriefed their experience. Since we cover so much in one day, we find this is an essential way to review. On Wednesday, when we gather for our second day of Training Camp, we will begin with a review of the objectives and take aways from our first day. By the time programming starts next week, our coaches will be more than prepared!