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Mills students join non-profit Coaching Corps

Photo by Halie Johnsen

Six students and the Mills Athletics Director are working with a non-profit to bring after-school sports programs to underprivileged youth this semester.

When the non-profit organization Team-Up for Youth began to look for colleges in Alameda and San Francisco counties to involve in their new Coaching Corps program, one of the schools they decided on was Mills because they saw it as a good place from which to draw female coaches because of its strong athletic department run by a woman of color, Themy Adachi, according to Monica Santos, the Coaching Corps coordinator.

"One clear obstacle that prohibits girls from participating in sports is the lack of female coaches and mentors on staff," said Santos.

The Coaching Corps offers three programs this semester: tennis, soccer and circus arts. The curriculum stresses that children participating in these activities will be offered "a powerful opportunity to bring caring adults into kids' lives and that lessons learned on the field can be carried over into classrooms, homes and communities."

The 25 student coaches, six from Mills, the others from UC Berkeley, go through a rigorous training program that includes 20 hours of preliminary and ongoing work on top of their 60 hours of on-site coaching.

Because of the training, college students do not need to have a strong athletic background in order to coach. The four training sessions are interactive and teach coaches to design and develop lesson plans curriculum, plan a season, manage a team, and ensure program success," according to the Coaching Corps curriculum.

By reaching out to the colleges in the community, the program hopes to bring sports to children ages 8-14 who would not have access to them otherwise and create strong college leaders. "Sports are particularly important for girls because they can learn lessons on the field that may not be transferred to them because of persistent gender stereotyping," Santos said. "Lessons learned include teamwork, risk-taking, healthy competition, how to deal with success and failure, and most importantly, how to develop a positive self-image and self-esteem."

Along with Mills and UC Berkeley, nine program partners aid Coaching Corps through sport-specific programs that are made available to the coaches and youth. According to the Team-Up for Youth Web site, the programs are chosen based on need and ability to support student coaches, along with their proximity to the college campuses. They are funded by grants and are usually held at a variety of locations around the Bay Area.

"Youth sports can be a powerful vehicle to support the healthy physical, social and cognitive development of children," Coaching Corps campus coordinator and Mills sophomore Chrissy Fisher said. "It's an amazing program which helps teach kids important life lessons like teamwork, leadership, and dedication while having fun."

The program is specifically designed to create relationships between the student coaches and their athletes. "I also hope that they can bring about an awareness of college and higher education to the youth," said Santos.

Program coordinators will be looking for more student coaches for the spring. Interested parties can contact Monica Santos by e-mail at