Chauntelle Acol takes the difficult undertaking of mentoring adolescents by volunteering in a sport she enjoys as a youth football league assistant coach
Children, whether they are boys or girls need semblances of structure in their lives so that they can mentally and physically improve themselves. This, by no means, is an easy task. But one mom by the name Chauntelle Acol takes the difficult undertaking of mentoring adolescents by volunteering in a sport she enjoys as a youth football league assistant coach for the Crestview Area Youth Association (CAYA) in Crestview, Florida.
“I enjoy organizing and planning extracurricular activities for our boys,” Acol said. “I believe that when we are able to gather whether it’s on or off of the field, we build better relationships with the community. I have stepped up in the CAYA as a volunteer, whether it is roasting a whole pig for a fundraising event, hosting our athletes at my house to swim in the pool, I feel that my efforts bring parents together and allows our community to be open to dialogue and meet new people.”
Acol stated that her volunteerism stems from her appreciation for American football.
“I love football,” she said. “Growing up, I've always been a tomboy and played a year in middle school but my dad never showed up to any of my practices or games, so I decided that one year was enough for me. I loved the running, hard hits, the feeling of moving the ball, scoring, and winning. I volunteered [to be a coach] because my son is on the team, we were lacking coaching staff, and I have skills in exercise science and sports massage therapy. Understanding kinesiology helps me to teach them how to use their bodies more effectively and efficiently.”
According to Acol, she does feel the occasional gripe or objection of her being there from the other coaches.
But, she uses that negativity as a driving force to be better, she said.
“Being a youth football league coach is tough but incredibly rewarding,” Acol said. “ I was recruited because I was the only parent showing up, planning, and designing workouts in the offseason alongside the Head Coach. As a female and being the only one on the field managing practices, it is also a weird scenario because some male coaches don't think I have any credentials or what it takes to be coaching. It doesn't bother me at all, everyone starts somewhere.”
Despite any roadblocks from other coaches or parents, Acol believes that the time she gives to the team directly strengthens the community of Crestview while helping to instill pride, critical-thinking and accountability in the players.
And just because she’s a woman, Acol said that she isn’t too lenient or too strict on the boys because they want to look up to a leader who is firm, fair and knowledgeable.
“It was difficult balancing being ‘tough’ on them while trying not to ‘crush’ their spirits,” she said. “Encouragement should accompany any form of criticism. Over the past few months, I have learned that every athlete is different. Therefore, one strategy of discipline or communication style may work well for one player. However, it does not work for all, and that’s why as a coach or parent, you must allow yourself to be flexible here and there.”
Although the season has just started, Acol knows that playing the game will build leadership skills and create positive changes in the players, she said.
“I think playing and being a part of a team sport helps to give a sense of identity to anyone that plays,” Acol said. “It challenges players to dig a little deeper and to care about the group a bit more than themselves while achieving a goal. One example of positive change that I see playing the sport comes from an 8-year-old boy who has a rocky home-life but a ton of determination. The team and parents came together to ensure that he had some of the necessary equipment to play. You can see the gratefulness in his eyes. He shows the appreciation on and off the field. And that’s the best feeling I will get as a coach and as a human being.”
According to Sydney Jordan, a regional manager for an internationally recognized non-profit organization, to be a single mom, there are many sacrifices to be made. And like the iconic DC comic book character Wonder Woman, she pushes herself a little bit more than the average mother