As the school year winds down and summer approaches, we’re sharing stories about how positive mentoring relationships support a healthy lifestyle through physical activity. This post recognizes the important work done by Up2Us Sports’ mentoring model, which unites coaches and youth through their shared love of sport.
Delmy Del Cid is mentoring teenage girls in the South Bronx to help them become strong, confident, young women – and she is doing it as their soccer coach.
Del Cid, 23, also grew up in the Bronx and knows about the poverty, gang violence, and drugs her players encounter daily in their community. She uses her coaching connection to be a positive role model and mentor for her team, just like her coaches were for her. Delmy had a particularly profound impact on one of her players, 13-year old Meredith Cazales.
Meredith was an honor student who excelled in school despite living in an area in the South Bronx that is known for drug use and gang violence. When her father unexpectedly passed away in 2013, she began having academic and performance challenges until Delmy stepped in and helped her get back on track. Her grades went up, her self-confidence improved, and her performance on the soccer field excelled – enough to be named team captain.
For Delmy, coaching isn’t just a job – it’s an integral part of her life. She and Meredith have become like sisters through their time together as coach and player. Meredith says, “Delmy has been a mentor to me because she has made me want to look forward and try to find my future. She makes me feel safe and happy and I feel like I have an older sister who is there to talk to me and protect me.” Similarly, Delmy says of Meredith, “Even though I’ve been Meredith’s coach and I’ve provided her with mentorship, I’ve learned confidence, trust, and friendship from Meredith.”
Del Cid is just one of many coach-mentors serving through Up2Us Sports, a nonprofit that trains coaches in trauma-informed techniques to mentor youth in underserved communities. The Up2Us Sports coaching program is supported by AmeriCorps.
Up2Us Sports coaches are trained to understand the impact that exposure to adverse childhood experiences can have on young people. Coaches learn strategies that encourage kids to be physically active, become more comfortable in their bodies, develop competence, and make meaningful connections with caring adults and supportive teammates. Up2Us Sports coaches are equipped to be mentors for all kids, but are especially suited to help youth in at-risk communities.
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Up2Us Sports knows sports are a powerful tool to reach youth and a great avenue to become a mentor. Their latest campaign, #SheCanCoach, is working to create more opportunities for women to coach and become mentors for young girls who need them. To learn more about Up2Us Sports, check out their website here.