The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks partnered with Nike to present the Coach LA program. The program will be implemented throughout the city to help in counseling youth sports.
The program included the creation of the Coach LA Playbook, a guide that gives coaches methods on how to create a positive sports experience for all youth who participate.
“We know the impact of a well-trained coach and the impact that coaches can have on kids, parents and the community,” said Nike social and community impact senior director of North America Matt Geschke. “When you align on that, one plus one can equal magic.”
Both the program and the playbook were unveiled at the Coach LA Summit where L.A. Rec and Park coaches underwent interactive coaching trainings and heard from speakers and athletes. The Summit took place at Dodgers Stadium.
“Our department recreation and parks in Los Angeles, we’re a huge department, we rarely get the chance to really see each other,” said Women Coach LA lead Lizeth Escobedo. “We are usually at our parks, so this is a great moment for all of us to connect again.”
L.A. Rec and Parks general manager Jimmy Kim noted how they and Nike wanted to make a standardized resource for coaches so they will know how to create an inclusive environment. The main tenets of the Coach LA Playbook is belong, be ready, and be better.
“I really hope that as we get it out into the field and to our volunteer coaches, they are able to use this to provide that amazing experience that a coach can provide to youth,” Kim said. “Those three tenets really forms the coaching mantra that we have.”
During the Summit, coaches heard from Olympic gold medalist and UNLV track and field and cross country coach Carmelita Jeter and Olympic gold medalist and UCLA assistant coach Lisa Fernandez.
They told the coaches about the importance of coaching winners in the game and in life along with showing the youth they have value.
“I feel it’s definitely a connection with Rec and Park and coaching. I feel all of us do it, sometimes we don’t know the sport but we still got to get out there and coach,” said Rec and Parks coach Thara Innocent. “When they do come in to guide them and coach them, it’s our responsibility to make sure they have the best experience and learn everything they need to learn.”
The coaches took the field at Dodgers Stadium to participate in activities that require teamwork and communication. The Center for Healing and Justice Through Sport (CHJS) also helped in creating the Coach LA Playbook; they also facilitated the activities.
“We know that movement is better for learning,” said Claire Perry who works in the communications department at CHJS. “What better way to do that than to actually learn though movement with our coaches who are then going to mirror back those behaviors and activities back to the kids as well.”
Each coach left the event with a copy of the Coach LA Playbook, which explains how coaches can build trust with youth and how to create safe spaces with their teams.
“What we do is we try to help create healing sport spaces for every kid everywhere,” said CHJS founder Megan Bartlett. “We know that sport is uniquely suited to help kids heal, grow and thrive.”