My best life choice

JES­SICA NICO is a re­porter by day and a vol­un­teer bas­ket­ball coach by night. As she ex­plains, sports vol­un­teers aren’t re­ally in it for the ac­co­lades – but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t recog­nise them.

Cockburn Gazette - - NEWS -

I AM of­ten shot a look of in­credulity when I tell peo­ple I vol­un­teer as a ju­nior bas­ket­ball coach.

Most times that shock deep­ens when I tell them I coach not one but two teams, jug­gling al­most 20 young teenage boys be­tween them.

Tak­ing up coach­ing is the best de­ci­sion I have made.

It can be stress­ful, play­ers can be ir­ri­tat­ing in typ­i­cal teenage fash­ion, but the ben­e­fits far out­weigh the few lit­tle irks.

I have seen the boys grow in more than just bas­ket­ball skill and abil­ity – they have be­come more con­fi­dent, more re­spect­ful and more aware of how their ac­tions im­pact oth­ers.

They are friend­lier, bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tors, bet­ter lead­ers, bet­ter fol­low­ers, bet­ter team play­ers – all traits that will serve them well as they start to make their way in the world.

For my­self, there are the ben­e­fits to men­tal health, a greater sense of com­mu­nity and the feel­ing of be­ing part of some­thing, of know­ing you are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence, how­ever small, in the life of a young per­son.

I see first-hand the strug­gles my club and oth­ers like it have in en­tic­ing par­ents or the wider com­mu­nity to vol­un­teer an hour or two a week, but grass­roots sport­ing clubs can only sur­vive through the gen­eros­ity of their vol­un­teers and the pos­i­tives of be­ing in­volved, of mak­ing a dif­fer­ence, are well worth a few hours a week.

If in 10 or 20 years “my boys” don’t re­mem­ber any­thing that hap­pened on the court, but re­mem­ber they had a coach that they re­spected and had fun with, then it will all have been worth it.

That’s why I coach.

Ask the coach of any lo­cal team and I truly hope their answer and joy would be some­thing sim­i­lar to mine.

Jes­sica Nico.

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