As an athlete and a coach, 17-year-old Caitlyn knows the impact that a good coach can have on a child’s life. “A coach has a big impact on a child’s life. They serve as our role models and teach us how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”
Caitlyn is a student at John O’Bryant High School in Roxbury and a member of her school’s track and field, basketball, and softball teams. Inspired by her coaches at John O’Bryant, she wanted to pay it forward and become a coach too. Her freshman year at John O’Bryant, Caitlyn met Kenny and Calvin, two YES Track & Field assistant coaches who would become her close friends. Kenny and Calvin encouraged Caitlyn to become an assistant coach too. She applied and was accepted as an assistant coach the summer of 2013.
For the past four years, Caitlyn has helped coach youth ages 4 – 14 on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Saunders Stadium in South Boston. She works alongside an adult coach to plan and implement track & field drills with a group of 15 youth. This summer, she is working with adult coach Kalli. “It’s inspiring to work with Kalli. She is a great coach and treats our group of youth well, almost like peers.”, Caitlyn enthuses.
After four years as an assistant coach, Caitlyn has seen many youth progress and grow with the program. She recalls that at the beginning of last summer, “There was a girl in my group who didn’t want to run, Jasmine.” Caitlyn coached Jasmine closely, even running beside her when she needed the extra support. She proudly remembers, “At the end of the year, Jasmine didn’t give up or start walking!”
Providing this kind of youth-to-youth support is at the core of YES’s mission, and Caitlyn is a wonderful example of how giving back as a coach can be life-changing for everyone involved. “It’s inspiring to see the youth push themselves,” says Caitlyn, “Track and Field will change your perspective on life. Like, just because someone has a disability doesn’t mean they can’t run.”
Caitlyn has also experienced significant personal growth through her experiences at YES. She reflects, “I’ve become more of a leader with YES. I’ve also learned over the years that just because you have a setback, it doesn’t mean your life is over.”
Caitlyn plans to go to college and work in the medical field so she can fulfill her passion of helping others. In the meantime, she will continue making a difference as an assistant coach, helping to give children all over Boston the opportunity to do track and field