Students gain valuable experiences coaching

January 26, 2018 — by Francesca Chu and Alexandra Li

Student athletes continue cycle of coaching younger children. 

The day before the championship meet in July last year, junior Nicholas Bray watched as a young swimmer practiced diving into the Brookside pool over and over again, only to belly flop every single time. Though his shift as a lifeguard was over, Bray decided to stay longer to help the child perfect his dive.

The sense of happiness that filled Bray at the child’s success motivated him to start coaching students in swimming. At the age of 13, Bray entered the junior coaching program at the Brookside Club, where he had been a part of the swim team for 12 years. The program allows older swimmers to watch during younger kids’ practices, acting as an extra set of eyes for the coach and giving advice on how the swimmers can improve.

When he turned 15, Bray received his lifeguard certification and began spending more time at the club, around 15 hours a week over the summer. Bray joined the coaching program because he remembered looking up to and admiring the older swimmers who helped him when he was younger.

“By the time I was old enough, I realized it was my turn to give back to the club,” Bray said.

Besides working with the junior coaching program, Bray also teaches private one-on-one lessons with some of the younger swimmers, a job he gets paid for. Sometimes, if he gives useful advice to a student during a group practice, the parent will approach him and ask if he would be willing to continue working with the child privately.

Bray has found that coaching has helped his own skills in swimming as well, since it reinforces concepts in which he also has room for improvement.

“To be able to teach something is to be able to do it better,” Bray said. “I’ve focused a lot more on my form since I started coaching.”

Similarly, senior varsity player Neal Iyengar coaches younger children as part of the National Junior Basketball (NJB) league. For the past two years, he has coached seventh and eighth graders at West Valley College with Nihal Mahajani, a senior from Lynbrook, holding two practices and a game each week.

Like Bray, Iyengar remembers being coached by other high school students when he was younger. The prospect of coaching his own team interested him, so he contacted the head of NJB once he reached the minimum coaching age of 16.

Additionally, Iyengar feels that coaching students has helped him empathize with other people and changed how he approaches the game.

“I learned how to verbally influence people through positive and negative reinforcement, and to not get frustrated as easily,” Iyengar said. “It’s enticing because coaching and playing show me two different perspective to the game.”

Overall, Bray and Iyengar have found their coaching experiences to be rewarding. In particular, Bray enjoys the added authority of instructing others.

“Coaching comes with a bigger responsibility and I feel like I’m moving up at Brookside,” Bray said. “I see that all the parents are watching me and all the kids are looking up to a good influence and it feels good to be that person.”

 
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