Beat the Streets, their mission seems to be one that should constantly be reiterated throughout sports. “We believe that the sport of wrestling fosters an uncommon combination of character traits that lead to enhanced social and personal development, and ultimately to better life outcomes, in the youth we serve.” There mission started out in NYC, where they concentrated on the urban youth having an opportunity to get involved in the sport of wrestling. Now it has spread nationwide from NYC to Chicago to L.A. and more. I did not know a whole lot about Beat the Streets until recently, I have to admit, but what they, as an organization do, is special.
“In the youth we serve” is maybe the most powerful sports statement, I have seen or heard in a long while. We often forget this in sports today, it IS the youth that we serve, rather then the youth serving the coach, teacher, etc. We have forgotten that a lot of lessons in life come out of wrestling, and sports in general. We as a culture think that the only thing that is important is winning. Which it is important, don’t get me wrong, after a certain age I don’t believe in participation trophies either. What isn’t often linked anymore, is when a coach instills traits such as teamwork, accountability, respect for one another, hard work, etc, that in itself creates a winning culture.
We as a culture need to do better, whether you volunteer or get hired as a coach or are on a coaching staff as a mentor, remember that we are impacting young lives. Not with just Xs and Os, but with what we say and do, and how we approach each lesson off and on the field. We have to remember some of the youth we work with, may not have fathers, or mothers for that matter, and are looking to coaches/volunteers/mentors as such after so long of being around these certain kids. We are the role models that will impact their lives. You will notice who these kids are, once upon a time as a coach, kids would come to me, it started with on the field questions and quickly turned to personal questions, which turned into them just talking about anything and everything. That might of been my favorite part of coaching football, connecting with the kids, not being looked at as just a coach trying to win.
My favorite memory as a coach, I was coaching 8 man football in a small “village” couldn’t even call it a town. We had 10 kids come out to play Varsity football, we spent the whole summer in the weight room, lifting and then going out on the field working on cardio. We as a coaching staff, and the kids decided that because they had to play both sides of the ball, that they were going to be the best conditioned team in 8 man. That year, there was a particular game us (Morrice) vs. Deckerville, they were the best in 8 man that year. They had 20-25 players on the sidelines during the game, we had 2. At halftime we were down 14-32, we were getting crushed. You could see it in our players eyes though, there was a calmness, a confidence we could come back from the deficit. We came out the second half, we went up 34-32 with 8 seconds left, we shut them out the second half, and went on to win the game. That will stay in my memory forever. These 10 guys were the toughest, most determined group of young men I ever had the privilege of coaching. Each one of them came with their own uniqueness, but on the football field they just clicked. That 10 young men went on to go 10-2 that year, losing to Deckerville in the playoffs, but I was so damn proud of them, and they were of themselves.
Whether you are a coach/volunteer/mentor of kids, always remember, you along with parents and the childs friends, we all instill in them life lessons they need to get through, they are lessons that are NOT taught in the classroom. Look past the win column and see what you are doing is more than just coaching a sport, you are shaping young minds. Beat the Streets I believe is an organization that puts this 1st and foremost, before anything.