Coaches Do More Than Teach Athletics. They Build Strength On and Off the...

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Coaches Do More Than Teach Athletics. They Build Strength On and Off the Field.

By JT Peterson     Apr 11, 2019

Coaches Do More Than Teach Athletics. They Build Strength On and Off the Field.

In senior year of high school, my football team once came back from being down 0-34 at halftime to win the Central Valley championship, 35-34, in overtime. It was the craziest thing we had ever done. My younger brother and I were teammates then—me on defense, him on offense.

These days, I’m a community health educator. I offer strength training to youth from elementary through high school and direct teams of student athletes at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, Calif. Growing up, sports were always a huge part of my life. My experiences on the field taught me patience and positivity, how to study the game and contribute from a different position.

As a coach, I use a holistic approach in my training. I work with big groups, everyone at the same time, and alternate movements like lunges, planks and bridges, with quick feet and hops back and forth or side to side. We pay close attention to the quality of our form. On my teams, we talk about nutrition, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep. And also about what kinds of media and messages we consume and how it makes us feel. We talk about the importance of showing up and being punctual, of doing every homework assignment just like every rep in practice, of remembering to reach out and rely on one another.

Some of my student athletes come onto the field dealing with a lot. As a teenager, it’s easy to think no one else understands. We try to provide an outlet, a safe place where they can put in effort and see the results. We are there to hear them out, tell them their issues are real, and share our own stories. We try to make sure everyone feels comfortable and included.

I believe coaches are a way to unite school communities. Recently, we talked to the team about being health conscious at dinner. A few days later, a parent came up to me and said, “Hey, Charlie came home this week with lots of ideas about what we could cook. Thanks, Coach!” It feels good to help families get on the same page about health and wellbeing. And, at the same time, we let teachers celebrate students in a different way outside of academics.

I love watching the kids we work with grow into confident young adults. As a coach, I feel a part of their lives and I think they feel I’m an important part of theirs. I know there is nothing I can do to ensure kids avoid adversity in life, but I hope despite the challenges, they know themselves and understand they have the power to persevere. I hope that their time on the field makes them feel this way.

I often think back to that halftime win with my brother during the Central Valley Championship. I carry the spirit of the day with me today. To me, it’s a belief that with hard work, faith, and community, anything is possible.

Learn more about JT Peterson’s story here.
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