HOW IT BEGAN
In March 2022, California Ultimate’s Executive Director Grant Boyd attended an Inglewood Active Communities stakeholder meeting. One of the members, Aba Ngissah (a teacher with Inglewood Unified School District), informed the group that the District currently had no PE teachers for their middle schools. At face value this was tragic for the kids, but Aba also explained that the classroom teachers were having to lesson plan for PE as well and/or supervise the students while sacrificing what should be a free period to catch up on work.
Stunned, Grant took a meeting with Aba and IUSD immediately to see if California Ultimate could at least run a week or two of Ultimate sessions. After talking at length, CUA agreed to take on all middle school PE classes at Bennet-Kew, Centinela, Oak St, and Payne Middle Schools for the rest of the year. While agreements were drawn up and passed through District hands, CUA trained and hired eight coaches, and collaborated with the new coaches to develop a seven-week curriculum.
COACHING THROUGH CHAOS
Each school, let alone each period at a school, has a whole different set of circumstances surrounding PE class. On top of all of that, The District had not informed CUA that each of the schools was going through state mandated standardized testing. But our coaches were brilliant, accommodating, and super supportive of one another. With one to two coaches dedicated to each school, plus four floaters helping out at all of the schools depending on day of the week and the number of classes/students, Inglewood middle school students started learning fundamental Ultimate skills and playing fun games.
In the very first week we heard this from 6th grade teacher Joyce Nishikawa while looking off at a group of girls who had just finished PE with our coaches, “Thank you for being here. I love what you’re doing. I’ve never seen those girls run before!”
Uncertain how the students would respond after not having formal PE class for some time, one of our coaches overheard an 8th grader at lunch watching the 6th graders at PE, “Yo, for real ready to play this Ultimate game tomorrow…this looks dope!”
And then after the first week we heard a few breakthrough moments such as, “Oh! I see why miss Katie keeps making us do those alligator catches! Alligator guys! ALLIGATOR!” For coaches, these tiny moments are gold. Throughout the seven weeks our coaches were teaching Inglewood students, we heard praise from the District, principals, teachers, and students. It was clear that our coaches, and Ultimate, were a hit.
AWARDS & GRANT FUNDING
Tracking the greater youth sports landscape, California Ultimate caught wind of two different awards celebrating youth coaches in under-resourced school districts.
Coaches Katie Killebrew, Leo Decter, Naomi Guzman, & Toph Eggers were all nominated for and then declared Champion Educators. The award was administered by LA84 and LASEC, and is a legacy program of the College Football Playoff series which will be held in Los Angeles in January 2023. To kick it all off, our Coaches took the field during the third quarter break of the USC football game on September 17th to be honored. As part of being a Champion Educator, our coaches also had a professional film crew interview them; keep an eye out for our #ChampionEducators on social media by following @CalUlti & @PlayEquityFund & @LA84Foundation.
As a result of CUA’s dedicated coaches and this innovative program, California Ultimate was recently awarded a $50,000 materials grant from LA84’s #PlayEquity Fund to continue and expand the program in Inglewood this school year. CUA plans to use the funds to outfit each middle school with custom jerseys (to compete in a year-end tournament), new discs, new sun hoodies to keep our coaches shaded, paint to create 4v4 field lines on each school’s blacktop, and more. Additionally, we will invest in Social Emotional Learning assessments for 400 students so that we can collect valuable data on our program’s (and Ultimate’s) impact on these students.
While we are honored to accept this grant from LA84, it only covers materials. As firm believers in our coaches’ work and the value of their service, CUA needs your help to match these funds so that we can get our coaches back to work in Inglewood.
Separately, Coach Tasha Pimentel was nominated for and awarded as the ICOACHKIDS Champion Coach representative from the USA. Tasha was bestowed this inaugural, international award based on her work in Inglewood where she demonstrated the key coaching concept of using alternative methods to connect with students.
California Ultimate Association (@CalUlti) – an after-school program in Inglewood – creates cooperation and new connections among students through sport. #ChampionsEducateHere @CFPExtraYard @LASEC @CFBPlayoff @PlayEquityFund pic.twitter.com/qf1HMAyu5X— LA84 Foundation (@LA84Foundation) December 5, 2022