Class dismissed: BSA Coache’s Adademy wraps up year

ROXBURY — The year-long Boston Scholar Athlete Program’s Coaches Academy wrapped up on Tuesday afternoon at Suffolk Constructions training facility.

This year more than 90 coaches attended the free four-course curriculum, which provides BPS coaches access to professional development courses aimed at making them better coaches on the field and better mentors off it.

“We had an unbelievable year with the Boston Coaches Academy,” said Evan Davis, BSA’s executive athletic director. “We’ve averaged 25 to 30 coaches per session and it’s been great. It’s been everything we’ve hoped for.”

The four courses — each offered three times a year — were taught by instructors from Wheelock College, Northeastern University’s Sport in Society, Institute for Sport Coaching and Positive Coaching Alliance. The classes touched on topics such as community, team, player and program development.

Every coach who completed all four courses received one credit toward an M.E.D. course at Endicott College’s Master’s in Athletic Administration program.

“Every coach has said they’ve taken something from each course, something that’s going to help them with their program,” Davis said. “One thing, that’s all that matters.”

Longtime Burke volleyball and softball coach, Joanne Lee-Nieves, said over her 20 to 25 years coaching in the district there have been some clinics offered to coaches but nothing as consistent as the Coaches Academy.

“This program is the most intense,” she said before Tuesday’s two and a half hour session. “[Before] there was usually one [clinic] a year.”

Before leading Tuesday’s session, Eric Eisendrath, the Northeast lead trainer for Positive Coaching Alliance, said coaches who don’t receive proper training tend to emphasize winning and don’t take a  “performance-based mindset” with an emphasis on building character.

“In the absence of training coaches fall back on the winning at all costs model,” he said.

Eisendrath logs 40,000 miles a year and said his clients include youth, high school and college sports programs. But he noted that it’s unusual for him to teach the same course three times in a year to one organization.

“To come back three times under the umbrella of a larger program is rare,” he said. “To be rolled into a larger curriculum is a very unique experience. To be part of a complete coaching curriculum speaks highly of what Suffolk is trying to achieve.”

Eisendrath’s session focused on helping the coaches to create “triple impact competitors” who try to improve themselves, their teammates and their community.

“You have to make your goals effort goals,” he said. “Focus on the process of winning rather than the product of winning.”

Positive Coaching Alliance also awarded the BSA its Seal of Commitment this year for the success of the Coaching Academy.

“I feel I learned a lot about how to work better with a team,” East Boston volleyball coach Vanessa Bigby said before Tuesday’s session. “One of the biggest things [I learned] is how to get information to parents and how to work with difficult parents.

“I feel I learned a lot to become a stronger coach. … If they offer it ever year I will be here if it’s different [classes]. I definitely got a lot out of it and I loved it.”

Next school year’s Coach’s Academy will begin in August with a football combine thanks to a partnership with Powerade.

“Our goal is to offer this free of charge to every coach that coaches in Boston Public Schools,” Davis said. “The goal is by the end of year three we want to have the most robust coaches education program in the country.

“We want to help our coaches be the best they possibly can be at their craft.”

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