PA Spotlight: Brendan McAlpine

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A truly effective coaches’ advice is so effortless and genuine that even when they are meticulously perfecting your soccer techniques or working out a conflict you are having with a friend you don’t realize that they are coaching you. Coach Brendan McAlpine carries around a full toolbox of coaching tips that he flawlessly utilizes on and off the field.

Working primarily in the Englewood and Bronzeville communities of Chicago Coach Brendan provides Work to Play students with a safe space to come play and learn about soccer and healthy lifestyles. Chicago public schools, like the ones Coach Brendan works at exist in communities’ plagued with gang violence and intrapersonal conflicts. This violence permeates into our school communities. Coach Brendan sees this as an opportunity to combat these injustices and educate his students about alternative was to respond and react to violence.

During a morning soccer practice two Work to Play soccer players began pushing each other and fighting over a phone. Coach Brendan stepped in and guided them through the conflict. He turned a physical altercation into an opportunity to learn about the value and powers that words carry. Through his coaching, Brendan’s players were able to verbally work through a conflict and strengthen their individual relationships with one another and subsequently strengthen their relationship as teammates. Building dynamic teams by investing himself in individual relationships with his players allows Coach Brendan to be an agent of change. Coach Brendan led a reflection about the long and short term effectiveness of physical violence in comparison to open conversations. By consistently holding his students accountable for their actions and providing them alternative ways to express emotions. Coach Brendan reduces the presence of youth violence. Giving his players the tools to think critically before they act has significantly lowered the number of incidences like this one at practices and during the school day.

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