This Spring I coached an after school program at Strive Collegiate Academy -- a charter middle school in the Nashville area. I was put in contact with Principal Butler right before schools were given the option to return to in-person teaching.
I was stoked because the timing was so perfect. These kids who hadn't moved much over the last year because of lock down and quarantine were given an opportunity to get some high level coaching that would help them in so many ways other than just getting stronger (though that is awesome) such as sleeping better, better regulated hormones, increasing bone density and growth, and more confidence.
It was really awesome coaching the kids. For the most part, the kids were really out of shape. Not only did they not know how to move their body, but they also were a little overweight. Wall Street Journal wrote about how the Pandemic was REALLY rough on kids, but PARTICULARLY ON LOW INCOME AND MINORITY KIDS. Dag gummit, that sucks...
Here is what Principal Butler had to say about the after school program.
Coach Sam was a great addition to our school during this unprecedented time for students and families. Our students not only looked forward to this time, but were grateful to have time to build their strength and spend some necessary time outside with peers. Coach Sam created a plan that catered to the differing levels of ability. Our students left stronger and more excited to stay active after their sessions with Coach Sam. We are grateful to have been able to provide this opportunity to our students during this time.
THANK YOU PRINCIPAL BUTLER!! IT WAS AN HONOR TO COACH THE KIDS!!
Coaching them was tough, though! There was a big gap in how I envisioned coaching going versus how it actually went, as I've written before. It was tough to coach them because they were so out of shape. But I adapted and the kids really had a good time. They got stronger over time -- what was difficult or impossible for them in the beginning was EZ$ by the time our time was up. We hit deadlifts, splits squats, rows, push ups, DB floor press, farmer carries, med ball throws and played all sorts of games -- weighted tic tac toe, football, horse. They crawled on the ground, rolled around in the grass, and played like kids should play -- ya know, getting grass stains on their pants and shirts! HECK YEAH! One kid said how her little nephew jumped on her -- she said, "I was expecting that to be way tougher, but it was so much easier since lifting with you!"
Here are some videos of the deadlifts. They weren't perfect by any means, in fact some coaches wouldn't have deadlifted them at all. But here was my thought on it -- these kids just spent a year sitting around being taught to FEAR everything, to not take risks, and haven't really experienced something novel -- so some bad form deadlift lets them feel like this...
HOLY CRAP that deadlift was WEIRD and TOUGH, but I REALLY LIKED IT, how much weight was that? do you think I could do 100#s? How much can you deadlift? How much better can I get?
I'd rather have them experience a new struggle and start striving for more than sacrifice the fun, curiosity and experience because it wasn't "perfect form". The form will come with time, but only because they did it the first time.
Here's them playing tic tac toe. I admittedly didn't get a lot of pictures or video because I was too focused on coaching, instead of "doing it for the gram".
Do you know of kids who have been couch potatoes during the pandemic and need some coaching? Do you have some homeschool or charter school friends who kids need athletic development or just be taught how to move their body? Let me know and I'd be happy to coach them!