Oak Lawn, IL

Two coaches reflect on teaching toddlers ball

TKhan

This month marked the end of the first summer session for Tiny Tot Soccer and T-Ball taken place at the Oak Lawn Pavilion. Little athletes worked on body coordination, balance and self-confidence through experiencing soccer and t-ball. Students learned the basics of kicking, throwing, running, batting, and catching skills needed for success in both sports. The fun approach offered was a great way for both boys and girls to get their first taste of t-ball and soccer. Perhaps the neat aspect was that parent participation was required since this session was limited to toddlers that ranged from two- to three-year-old students.

We had a chance to talk two of the coaches, Fey Rangel and Jimmy Alfaro, who were eager to get their young students moving.

“It is important to coach kids right now because we're at the tail end of a year-long pandemic and a lot of kids haven't been physically active in over a year because of quarantine,” Alfaro says. He explains how being a coach for young kids requires a lot patience. With Covid-19, many kids have been very shy as they have been used to spending time at home; thus, it is critical to be gentle with his young students and get to know each of them in class.

For Rangel coaching kids was important at this time because of her career choice of wanting to be a coach. “It helps me interact and get more hands-on and get more experience with the kids,” Rangel explains.

While Alfaro did not have a background in coaching, he embraced the challenge. “I've always wanted to coach kids since high school. I always thought it would be cool to get paid to play sports with kids,” he says. His experience after the first session was really fun as he enjoyed seeing the kids every week and getting to play with them. “I enjoy seeing the kids get better at the sports we teach them as the class goes during the sessions,” he adds.

Rangel, on the other hand, has been in sports since a very young age and had coaches that became mentors for her that she truly looked up to; consequently, she wanted to be able to do that for others as she loved it.

“I feel that as a female coach for young kids, I not only set an example for the young girls in my class to exemplify that we as girls are just as capable of doing what boys can do. But I also bring a more nurturing and caring aspect while coaching the kids,” she tells us.

As both high schoolers get ready for college, they leave the toddlers with renewed energy. This program was a fun way to expose children at a young age to learn many elements including “social skills, being more active, learning to follow and listen to rules,” says Rangel.

In many ways, both Rangel and Alfaro found this program to be an eye-opener for them as well. They appreciated the way both their students and their parents interacted with different parts of the program and look forward to doing this again when the opportunity arises.

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I write about culture, politics, parenting, religion, and health. My work has been published in The New York Times, National Geographic, Vanity Fair, Vox and Prism Reports among others.

Illinois State
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