Stemming from a successful college model, Oakland-based Coaching Corps has been placing volunteer sports coaches in struggling communities’ after-school sports programs for the last 10 years.

Today, Coaching Corps is in the process of developing and expanding a community model in Oakland and other cities.

“Initially, we were a grant-making organization that gave money to communities so that they could hire coaches,” Sheilagh Polk, the director of communications for Coaching Corps, said. “We then started recruiting college students and have been successful in having them go to after-school programs and become coaches. It is really important that they have the opportunity to be able to go back to their community to coach.”

Polk also said that Coaching Corps’ mission is not just about sports for the sake of sports, but rather, that the program aims to improve the emotional and physical health of young people.

“I think our desire to touch the lives of so many kids is what keeps us going,” Polk said. “We want to continue to help our coaches become life-long advocates because a lot of children that we have interacted with tell us that no one ever comes back to help them.”

Coaching Corps headquarters are located at 310 Eighth Street in Oakland. The organization has teamed up with key community members to launch the first community chapter. On May 14, Coaching Corps held its first coach training session at the East Oakland Boxing Association.

One of the key community members to help launch the community chapter is Shawn Granberry. Granberry is a leader in the Oakland community chapter and has been involved with Coaching Corps as a member of U. C. Berkeley’s student chapter.

“I was a student at U. C. Berkeley at the time, and my research led me to join Coaching Corps because I wanted to provide solutions to the problems that urban youth face in the inner cities,” Granberry said. “I grew up with NBA player Jason Kidd and what we talked about was creating more community programs for kids. So I started Bears Youth Basketball.”

Bears Youth Basketball partners with Coaching Corps and teaches participants intense and energetic coaching drills, child motivation, and the x’s and o’s of coaching.

“Bears Youth Basketball is my passion,” Granberry said. “I want to help solve issues in the community.”

According to both Polk and Granberry, the volunteer coaches that Coaching Corps typically works with tend to vary in terms of experience when it comes to teaching sports. However, every volunteer and interested coach receives the essential and fundamental professional training to be able connect with urban youth.

“Whether it is through our college chapter or community chapter, our training consists of several hours of learning such things like the building blocks of coaching, behavior management, and peer support techniques,” Polk said. “We get volunteers from every walk of life. Some are athletes and others are just folks that want to do something for kids. So we try to pair and have people work together.”

For Granberry, he agrees that volunteers vary, but that it is a good mix of volunteers that tend to join either coaching program.

“For Bears Youth Basketball, we do get people that have some kind of a sports background,” he said. “I went through the Coaching Corps college training and it was very informative. I enjoyed it and I wish everyone could attend at least a training because it applies to life.”

The overall goal for Coaching Corps’ Oakland community chapter is for it to be the type of model that could be followed by other cities and regions. Currently, Coaching Corps has chapters all throughout Boston, Atlanta, Southern California and Northern California.

“I want to bring back more people to the community,” Granberry said. “We are creating a strong Oakland model. We are going city by city and really want to build a movement. We hope that this model could be the example of how to make a difference, reach back and save kids.”

For more information on volunteering, visit Coaching Corps‘ website.

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