Americorps Service Spotlight: Andy Neilsen

andyatinterfaith.jpg Urban Initiatives is so lucky to have Coach Andy “Championship Attitude” Neilsen on our team this year as an Up2Us Coach Across America AmeriCorps Member. He oversees the Urban Initiatives Coaches Corps Program and supports the Work to Play Program at Daley and Libby schools.

Coach Andy was determined to get involved in AmeriCorps because he wanted to provide direct service that would impact neighborhood and social issues. Andy grew up playing sports, and he knows what a valuable experience it can be for kids growing up. That’s why he’s so excited about the work we do at Urban Initiatives!

Through his participation with Coaches Corps Program, Coach Andy gets exposure to teachers who are so relentless in delivering the positive messages through sports participation. They emphasize living with a Championship Attitude. He has learned a lot about pointing out teachable moments and pushing kids to understand they have potential to be great teammates in all aspects of life.

Andy’s favorite memory from the year is when a player at Libby asked him, “Coach Andy are you going to be with us for the whole rest of the year?” When he said yes, she shouted “YESSSSS!” (fist pump and all). Andy definitely keeps this in mind when he’s getting up at 5:45am to make it to Libby’s morning practice. 

This year, Andy had learned to have a deeper appreciation for how complex kids’ lives are and the importance of staying patient. At Urban Initiatives, we work with kids from all kinds of backgrounds whose lives are sometimes very complicated and difficult. “I see kids as young as 2nd grade dealing with some tough stuff. I really admire their strength and I’m grateful to be able to play soccer with them.

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