December 11, 2015
“The wise man does not lay up his own treasures. The more he gives to others, the more he has for his own.” ― Lao Tzu
My service project consisted of me coaching a Recreation team of young boys alongside my best friend in my community of Quincy, Fl. I got the pleasure to meet and start coaching during the summer, in a summer basketball league, where we first got our team together. My group of boys were all between 10-12 years old, so the confidence was there and the trash talking. We began with basketball during the summer, but that season didn’t last long. In August, around the same time the semester began, the football season started. Which means a longer season, longer practice, more players, and more time I spend with my boys.
I volunteered to coach because I love sports and I love younger kids. I have always had a special love for sports, but for some reason I enjoy talking and interacting with younger kids and they always become attached to me. So, being able to teach football and basketball alongside building a relationship with a bunch of younger kids was right up my alley. Another reason that motivated me to volunteer with my boys was because my older sister passed away when I was younger. So, I grew up as an only child and any opportunity I get to play a big brother role, I will always take it and it will always be a new and learning experience for me.
Dealing with the responsibilities of being one of the head figures of my team, being a full-time student, and having a part-time job was extremely hard balancing only being 19 years old. At one point I felt as if all of it was becoming too much. My grades dropped in every class, and I practically played catch up the entire semester. I contemplated quitting my coaching duties, but I am so hard on my team as far as them “giving their all”. I always preach no quitting and no using the word “can’t”. So, I couldn’t allow myself to quit on my team and give up on them due to my lack of balancing time and priorities. The turning point that made me buckle down, was a conversation I had with one of my best players and captains Justin. I had a rule that no one could practice without all homework being finished, even if that meant they do their homework on the sideline. One day before practice and while the team was stretching and warming up, I was on the sideline doing some chemistry homework on the bench. Justin walked over and sat by me and asked “What you doing Coach?” I told him I was doing homework and briefly explained it to him. So, when 6:00 came around, which is what time practiced started, I started to put all my books and folders in my backpack and Justin quickly stopped me and asked “Coach did you finish?” And I answered him “No, I will when I get home”. Justin looked at me with a disappointed face and said “Coach, you know the rule. No practice until all homework is finished.” All I could do was smile, and think to myself, these kids really care about me. My preaching to them on never quitting, giving their all, and no using “can’t” turned into my rules for the remainder of the semester and for life.
I had a great relationship with all of my boys. But, if there was one who stood out to me and became the most attached to me was Justin. Justin was one of the oldest on the team and easily had the biggest personality on the team. Justin and I argued and tested each other almost every practice. Justin was also my next door neighbor, so we carried a lot of those arguments home. I think what connected Justin and I was that we related to each other in almost every aspect. We are both the only child, we both are “mama boys”, and we both have to have the last word. Justin and I bump heads a lot, but at the end of the day I love him to death and we both need each other. Even though he’s only 12, I go to him for advice and he does the same for me. When my house was burglarized and almost all of my belongings were taken, Justin sat on the steps of my house with me and cried with me. Coaching that team not only brought me and Justin closer, but it made him and I family. I spend majority of my weekends with Justin, so we’ve became inseparable. Whether its homework, questions about girls, or just hanging out I am here for Justin, and I know he is here for me.
Being that the community of Quincy, FL is going through a lot financially and crime wise, it felt great doing something positive for the community and most importantly the kids of our community. I think spreading love and joy through a small community starts with the kids. And once the kids can be happy, then the parents can be happy because that’s one less thing they have to worry about. After every game, I treated my team to pizza and there we shared laughs and forgot all about the game whether we won or loss. It feels good to be able to walk in Walmart in Quincy, and see my players and how they embrace me with love. Those group of boys helped me and they made me see life as if I should do all I can to help anyone I can. They definitely made me appreciate everything I have been blessed with and most importantly they helped me appreciate them and their presence. I understand this was a service project for just the semester, but I definitely plan on making this a service project for years to come.