Even leaders need a little help finding new ways to lead. That’s where Soldiers to Sidelines, an organization that helps integrate military personnel into youth sports, comes into play.
Based in Washington D.C., and founded by Harrison Bernstein, a three-time All-American football player and former NFL trainer, Soldiers to Sidelines takes veterans and teaches them the most cutting edge coaching strategies to succeed as a football coach in order to “inspire, motivate and encourage young athletes to succeed in sports and life.”
Once military veterans complete the training, Soldiers to Sidelines places new coaches with youth or high school sports programs. Some coaches even land internships at the college level, or like Antwan Sorrells, an Army veteran, they may shadow college coaches to gain more knowledge.
Sorrells, a high school coach from West Virginia who deployed four times to Afghanistan and Iraq, and returned from his last mission legally blind as a direct result of two IED blasts, had the opportunity recently to spend two weeks with Georgetown University’s football program.
“For the most part, I’ve been sticking with Coach Sgarlata with the cornerbacks since that’s what I coach back home,” Sorrells told GUHoyas.com. “I’ve been bouncing around to defensive line meetings and linebacker meetings, stuff like that. Mostly the defensive side of the ball, which is kind of my specialty.
“The staff here is awesome. Any questions that I have, they are more than willing to answer questions, whether it’s about coaching philosophy or anything like that. The good thing about Soldiers to Sidelines is it gives you so many different opportunities. It’s such a great resume builder and the program is so supportive.”
As beneficial as the program is to military veterans, it’s impact is just as pronounced on youth.
Because 70% of athletes quit playing sports by the time they reach high school, coaches enrolled in Soldiers to Sidelines are being trained according to the research of Dr. Amanda Visek, a professor of sports psychology at George Washington University. She believes the three biggest factors that make sports fun (The Fun Integration Theory: Towards Sustaining Children and Adolescents Sports Participation) are 1. Being a good sport, 2. Trying hard and 3. Positive coaching.
That’s why Soldiers to Sidelines follows principles of this theory to teach coaches how to keep kids active and engaged.
For more on this ground-breaking program, visit SoliderstoSidelines.org.