COOL Sports has always been one of my favorite aspects of the CalSERVES programs. As a mentor at Sheppard Elementary, I coached every Challenge during the school year. I enjoyed watching my students’ faces light up with joy when they arrived at the Challenge and saw all the other students in their COOL Sports shirts. When I became a Program Assistant, I took over the responsibilities of organizing the Challenges. Now in my third year as COOL Sports “Cruise Director”, I found myself wondering if I would still have the same passion for COOL Sports as I did as a mentor. My concern quickly vanished after our last Challenge.
It has been a few years since volleyball was the focus for a Challenge. As mentors reported struggles our students had with this sport, we changed the rules accordingly to give them a better chance at being successful. As we started the Challenge, I quickly learned that the rules were going to go straight out the window. The students had trouble serving the ball over the net and passing to each other. Standing there reffing the matches, I adjusted the rules as best as I could in the moment. I saw mentors who had spent weeks teaching their students the fundamentals of the game cheering to the top of their lungs when a student was able to hit the ball over the net.
Looking around the gym, I saw that every person in the gym had huge smiles on their faces. The students, mentors, Super T’s, and parents were so proud of the hard work that had gone into this Challenge, no matter how the students performed. I thought about the purpose for which COOL Sports was created: it is a chance for students to participate in new sports that they might not have access to and it doesn’t matter how great of an athlete they are. What matters is that they showed up and did their best.
As I swept the gymnasium floor after the Challenge had ended, I heard a student shout out to her mentor “Good night Ms. Hunt. Thanks for being the best coach ever!” Watching the mentors cheer when they saw their kids return a serve, score a point, or simply get the ball over the net reminded me why COOL Sports will always be a passion of mine. These events allow the kids to realize their potential and have the power to change lives, including my own.
by Taylor Ford, CalSERVES Supervising Teacher at Wright Charter
and COOL Sports Coordinator