The Home Team Roots for Success Karly Grogan ENG106-B3

An INtroduction to civiC engagement

Find Your Purpose

Civic engagement has the reputation for always having a positive impact on those who choose to engage. It is definitely true that a majority of people reep the benefits of participating in service learning or giving back to the community, however that is not always the case, especially with students in higher learning. The problem with college students is that they do not like to be told what to do. Therefore, when students are forced to do something they automatically have a negative attitude toward it. It is that negative attitude that looms over them the whole time and impairs their ability to get the full experience. With that said, when students are forced to participate they do not take the time to choose an organization or experience that holds true to their personal values, is something that they believe is important, or something they feel passionate about. This idea of participating without purpose completely changes the impact a service learning experience can have on a student.First, a student’s bitter attitude does not only come from the fact that they are teenagers, but also from the fact that most students were forced to engage in some sort of service during some point in their lives. This defeats the purpose. Civic engagement and service should be a person’s own choice as opposed an obligation to fulfill a credit or graduation requirement. When students grow up only knowing service as something they have to do at least twenty hours of in order to graduate, they do not understand or even know the real benefit. Society tells them they must, so they do and that is the end of it. They do it to get the signature on their volunteer hours sheet and are completely blind to the life-changing impact a service experience can have on their lives.

Find Your Passion

Passion plays an essential role in a student’s takeaway from a service learning experience. Students are missing that passion. It starts with the organization you chose to work with. A student must take the time to self evaluate and figure out what he or she wants out of the experience. Then, he or she must choose an organization that holds true to his or her own personal values and what the student believes is important. This is where passion comes in. Having that passion toward a service experience turns it from something you have to do to something you want to do. It becomes a part of your life and a part of who you are. Passion is genuinely wanting to help an organization because you believe so deeply in the cause. Passion is forming relationships with the people you are helping. Passion is going home and not even just feeling good about yourself, but thinking about what more you can do. It is putting all the trivial things in life aside for a small part of your day to do something bigger than yourself. If students were to have just a taste of passion toward the service or organization they decide to civically engage with it, it will make it all the more meaningful and fulfilling.

Tell Your Story

Once that passion is present, the experience becomes a story. When you tell that story people can feel what you are feeling. You have so much to say, share, and spill because the experience was overwhelmingly life-changing. That would change the statistics of Ashley Finley’s article, “A Brief Review of the Evidence on Civic Learning in Higher Education.” These students self reports would be so much more insightful if students cared about what they were sharing. The stories would turn into data and instead of just straight statistics it would be raw evidence of the interaction of students with civic learning. There would be much more real, meaningful information for the researchers to work with rather than just numerical findings. The information is much more valuable when it has a deeper meaning other than just a “student self report” (Finley 1). Overall, in order for civic learning to be a life-changing experience a student must find the service that they will put so much passion into that it becomes part of who they are and the commitment shifts from an obligation to a priority.

Trying out for the home team miami

"we all need someone who inspires us to do better than we know how."

Why I Tried Out for This Team

When Alex Pou, the founder of The Home Team, presented the mission and idea behind his organization to our class, I immediately knew it was something I would be able to put my heart into. Throughout high school, I was a mentor for an elementary school student who had a troubled home life. Each week we would do homework, practice her times tables, read books, as well as play board games, talk about her friends, and play outside at recess. I genuinely looked forward to devoting my free period to her. The best and most rewarding part of the mentorship was seeing how excited she would get when I would walk into the cafeteria to pick her up every Tuesday. Before I could even pick her blonde ponytail out of the crowd, she would emerge from the chaos with a contagious smile and greet me with a huge hug. It was that instant gratification that made giving up my free period for the day overwhelmingly worth it. I honestly miss being able to have such an impact on a child which is why I saw the Home Team as the perfect opportunity for me to get involved and form influential relationships with the kids in my new home of Miami.

The Impact I Can Make on the Team

Our mission is to use the life skills of athletics to advance at-risk youth on the field, in the classroom and within their community, to prepare them for college and beyond.

The Home Team is unique because it works directly with the University of Miami to show the involved student-athletes how their dreams of going to college is within their reach. In order to get a college degree, many of the students need sports. The Home Team provides a student-athlete model that teaches the kids how to balance both athletics and an education. The Home Team stresses using academics to achieve athletic goals and athletics to achieve academic goals. These students need motivation for academics; they need someone to show interest in them and they need something to strive for. The Home Team provides volunteers that invest in the participants academic and athletic careers and constantly remind them that they are capable of so much more than they think. Kids are extremely impressionable, therefore if you gain their respect and become a role model to them, they are going to want to make you proud. When kids do not have the best home lives, they need that person in their life who will push them to their greatest potential. They need that person that will be proud of them when they score the touchdown and get an A on the test. A volunteer from the Home Team can be that person for a local kid who never thought he would amount to anything. Through the Home Team, a kid who only really saw his life in one lense can be the next NFL star, the next doctor, or the next CEO. This organization opens the doors to so many opportunities for students from elementary school to high school through academic and athletic success.

An Inspiring Coach to Help Make it All Happen

When Alex Pou came into our class to tell us about his organization, I could feel how much pride and passion he has for the kids in the South Florida area. He has made it his mission to get these kids on the right track, so they can eventually make it to college and build a life for themselves. I find that truly inspiring, to have a passion that is so much bigger than yourself and being able to radiate that passion so much that other people want to help you fulfill it. Alex Pou did just that. Although the mission behind this organization does not have anything to my major of marketing, I hope to be able to somehow incorporate working with children into my career. Whether that be working in the marketing department for a company that creates products or services for children or volunteering at a non-profit organization that works with kids. Wherever my career path takes me, I hope to have as much passion and pride for it as Alex has for his work, while simultaneously being able to make a difference for someone somewhere.

AN INstant Replay from A meaningful game

Walking into Tucker Elementary this afternoon, I felt confident. I had been meeting with the same group of boys for past month, so I thought I could handle anything that they tried to throw my way. I walked into the classroom like I normally do and approached the 3rd grade boy I usually work with. Today something was off with him. He wasn’t eating his snacks and he was especially quiet. I assumed it was just a bad day at school, maybe he was tired, maybe he got in trouble in class, maybe he got picked on. I continued to work with him as I always do. He would do all of the math worksheet that he could on his own and then I would guide him through the ones he did not know. He usually only needs my help on a few of them. I tried asking him if everything was okay today and he continued to reassure me that he was fine and that he did not want to talk about. The rest of the meeting went on as usual. After all the kids were picked up and we were cleaning up, I asked TJ about the boy to find out more information. TJ told me that the boy’s dad went to jail that week. TJ explained to me how close the boy and his dad are. I was not expecting him to say that at all, when I was in elementary school and someone was upset it was because they forgot their lunch money or they got in trouble with their teacher. This 10-year-old boy was dealing with such a traumatic life event. He may never get to see his dad again. TJ also told me that the father really held the family together and now that he is in jail it is uncertain of the boy’s permanent living situation. My heart broke. I cannot even imagine having to live such a difficult life. This boy has such a bright future ahead of him if he works to his potential, but the possibility of success maybe not be attainable simply because of the life he was born into. I think about that day a lot now. Whenever I am complaining about living in the “gross” dorms or eating the dining hall food, I bring myself back down to earth and remind myself that I am so incredibly lucky; I have nothing to complain about compared to my mentee at the Home Team. Hearing a situation like that taught me to always be grateful and appreciate the life I was born into.

The Home Team is always the winning team

Mentor: The Essential PlayeR

The success of The Home Team program lies in the effectiveness of the relationships formed between the volunteers (mentors) and the participants (mentees). A successful mentoring relationship is formed over time; it cannot be rushed or forced.Mentors must be a source of dependability and consistency for the mentee. Being consistent means showing up for scheduled meetings, always being ready to support, and being prepared for the challenges that may arise that day. Studies support the concept that there should be an agreement between both parties that sets the time and date of each meeting, how often the meetings will be, and what should be accomplished. Another essential aspect effective mentoring relationship is building trust and friendship (Rahill et al. 288). An effective mentor and mentee relationship is built on guidance using your own expertise and experience, like a teacher or parent, while also being a support system, like a friend. The at-risk youth involved in the Home Team need that person in their life who will push them to their greatest potential. A mentor should be that person for its mentee.

The FInal play of the Game

My mentoring experience with the Home Team gave me the unique opportunity to connect with the community in my new home of Miami. Going to college in such a beautiful place with so much to do, it is so easy to get wrapped up in all of it. However, taking on the responsibility of being a mentor for an at-risk youth opened my eyes to the societal issues that are happening right outside the green gates that enclose the bubble of the University of Miami. As I was teaching the mentees essential skills on how to balance their lives, I was also teaching myself. My research holds true; a consistent, trusting mentor relationship is equally as beneficial for both the mentor and the mentee. Although the Home Team's main mission is to teach at-risk youth how to excel in academics and athletics, because of the special mentor relationship that can form, it becomes so much more. The Home Team has the potential to turn every smart, talented kid, who is at the unfortunate disadvantage of growing up in an impoverished area, into a successful college student-athlete.

Works Cited

Fuller, Rhema, et al. "The Impact of High School on the Leadership Development of African American Male Scholar-Athletes." The High School Journal, vol. 100, no. 2, 2017, pp. 146-162, ProQuest, http://access.library.miami.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1862733873?accountid=14585.

Keating, Lisa M., et al. "THE EFFECTS OF A MENTORING PROGRAM ON AT-RISK YOUTH." Adolescence, vol. 37, no. 148, 2002, pp. 717-34, ProQuest, http://access.library.miami.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/195942138?accountid=14585.

Korn, Melissa. “Princeton, Others Aim to Accept More Low-Income Students.” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 1 Mar. 2018, www.wsj.com/articles/princeton-others-aim-to-accept-more-low-income-students-1519900203.

Rahill, Stephanie A.|Norman Krystal|Tomaschek Amanda. “Mutual Benefits of University Athletes Mentoring Elementary Students: Evaluating a University-School District Partnership.” School Community Journal, Academic Development Institute. 121 North Kickapoo Street, Lincoln, IL 62656. Tel: 1-800-759-1495; Web Site: Http://Www.schoolcommunitynetwork.org/, 30 Nov. 2016, eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1146494


Ruklick, Joe. "Corrupt College System Hurts Black College Athletes." Chicago Defender, Mar 01, 2001, pp. 16. ProQuest, http://access.library.miami.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/247045516?accountid=14585.

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