by Cooper Danzig
When I first started volunteering for BYSC five years ago, it was something I was told to do: a Bar Mitzvah project my mom signed me up for. However, it quickly became something I love and look forward to all week. Being able to share my love for sports with an athlete and seeing their smile at the end of the session is incredibly rewarding. Sports has this amazing power to bring out the best in people, and when sports are combined with the incredibly caring coaches I have had the pleasure of working alongside, something beautiful is created.
Throughout my years with BYSC I have formed connections with many amazing children. These bonds are built on a want to have fun, which makes the relationships so sincere. Working one-on-one with a child allows me to understand their abilities and learn how I can best help grow their skillset. I love seeing old faces and getting to grow on my connection with an athlete week after week, but I also cherish the opportunity to coach an athlete that is new to the BYSC community. And BYSC is exactly that: a community. It is a caring community where everyone is rooting for each other. Activities are based on competing against yourself and having the athletes try to beat their previous score. This creates an environment where everyone can be a winner.
I volunteer with BYSC to help children with developmental disabilities learn athletic and social skills. I am proud to see how far some of the athletes that I worked with years ago have come today. And just as I hope that the athletes have learned a lot from me, the experience has also taught me lessons and skills that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Patience is a very simple but important skill that I developed as a coach. Every athlete I was paired with progressed at a different pace. BYSC showed me the importance of accepting everyone for the level they are at and not rushing success but instead celebrate every little achievement on the path to success.
My work with one specific athlete, Jayden, showed me the power of immediate, total vulnerability. Before my work with him, I focused on the rules that society holds for first meetings such as making small talk and having a good first impression. From the get-go, Jayden started each session with a big hug. He joked around like we were old friends and was himself in full force right away. When I embraced a willingness to be vulnerable, as Jayden did, I found beautiful, personal introductions. I learned to be transparent and open when meeting people.
I owe so much to everyone at BYSC for helping me grow over the years. Now, due to my experience with BYSC, I am dedicated to helping people with developmental disabilities wherever I can. I used the skills I learned being a coach to create a club at my high school that helps integrate the students in the FASE classroom into student life and will continue to focus my energy on projects like this throughout my life.
“Just as I hope that the athletes have learned a lot from me, the experience has also taught me lessons and skills that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”