If you were to join Backyard Sports Cares at Purchase College on a Sunday, you would see nearly 50 amazing volunteer peer mentors helping special needs athletes play, learn and have fun. The most dedicated, experienced and oldest among them wear red shirts and are cleverly named… the Red Shirts! This inaugural group of special high school seniors are the most steadfast of our volunteers and serve as role models for younger peers, teaching them the ropes and inspiring them through their commitment and passion. The Red Shirts also help with lesson and event planning and serve as a liaison between underclassmen and the coaches.
“We actively seek opportunities for our Red Shirts to grow their leadership and communication skills, and gain confidence in their decision-making,” said BYSC Coach Vin Minotti. “We want these future leaders to have an amazing volunteer experience and take what they’ve learned with them and use it throughout the rest of their lives, especially when they have an opportunity to serve.”
Red Shirt Emily Lattman, who has volunteered with BYSC for two years, says that’s exactly what the program has done for her: “I love being a Red Shirt because it has allowed me to connect with athletes and volunteer coaches in the Backyard Sports community. I have learned so many valuable lessons regarding leadership and being a role model, and I am so excited to take those new skills with me to college after I graduate.”
Three-year BYSC veteran Alec Greenwald concurs: “It’s all about the feeling of knowing that I’m teaching younger volunteers to pull from this program exactly what I did throughout high school. It makes me feel like a tree casting out my roots: teaching one kid something that extends to many players and eventually more volunteers.”