Kristen Leavitt interned at Provo High School as the head freshman girls' basketball coach. She celebrated the ups and downs with these girls. Read more about her experience here!
What was your internship experience?
I took a position as the head freshmen girls' basketball coach at Provo High School. I was under the direction of the head coach of varsity. Some of my duties were to help run tryouts and practices, as well as coach games, schedule transportation, and communicate with the athletes on schedule.
I was responsible for teaching the girls specific offenses and defenses based on the existing program set forth by the head coach, and helping the girls to develop their fundamental basketball skills (e.g. dribbling, passing, shooting, defensive stance and position, etc). Over the course of the season, I set up separate early morning practices where I could help the athletes work specifically on fundamental skills that I felt we were lacking as a team.
I developed and learned new drills for practicing and teaching skills and plays. Beyond all of this, I developed relationships with the athletes and the coaching staff.
I felt more confidence and authority as the season progressed, speaking up more with ideas and demanding more from athletes on and off the court. My team had a major winning record, but the most important thing that I helped to instill in them was teamwork and a positive attitude. No matter what, they were not allowed to criticize or get angry at each other. Overall, our team culture was one of support and encouragement.
What did you learn during this experience?
I learned so much about how to approach, teach, and discipline different athletes.
There is no 'one size fits all' solution when it comes to talking to people. While my personality makes me want to simply demand that someone do what I say, no questions asked, I have learned that this approach is only effective on a select few people.
I learned how to change behavior and improve performance using positive reinforcement and various types of communication styles. Some people need a firm hand, and others simply need a suggestion.
Additionally, while some athletes respond with fiery determination to criticism, others break down and retract into their proverbial shells. Everyone needs a different approach, and learning that was very valuable for me. My PETE courses taught me how to manage a gym, which was immensely useful. I knew how to present new skills effectively, how to get attention and discourage misbehavior, and more. I wasn't thrown to the wolves on how to deal with a gym full of teenage girls: I had been taught specific management skills.
My major also prepared me to effectively teach concepts. I knew not to present the entire idea/skill at once, but to break it down into manageable pieces, and have the athletes perform it slowly until they could perform it correctly.
What courses helped prepare you for this experience?
One specific course actually had us create a portfolio containing all of the information we would use to run our own coaching program, including drills, plays, fundraising ideas, team building activities, and more. This portfolio was a great resource. I definitely grew in my ability to manage time effectively. I had to be on task in order to have practice plans ready, game transportation scheduled, and communication with athletes and their parents in place. Additionally, my communication skills improved.