A coach’s mentoring program encourages student athletes to give back.
Head coach, Southern University women’s tennis
Southern University Women’s Tennis head coach Jeffrey Conyers says young people might ignore repeated preaching by family members wanting to steer them in the right direction.
But he is hoping they pay attention when he and his student athletes deliver a similar message.
Conyers was urged by a colleague to consider the Big Buddy Program when looking for a volunteer opportunity understanding of his demanding coaching schedule.
Not only did Conyers become a mentor to an 8-year-old boy, but he was also inspired to start J.A.G. Buddies, a mentoring program at Southern University designed to encourage student athletes to give back.
Conyers and students from the tennis and cross country teams were paired with little buddies from Dalton Elementary School at a match ceremony in September. Participants now include Southern athletes from other sports.
Conyers says he interacts with his little buddy at least twice a month, and the relationship has been mutually beneficial.
“He kind of reminded me of myself: a quiet young fellow, but now he’s starting to open up,” Conyers says. “He talks a great deal more. Myself as well. It’s a win-win for both of us.”
Conyers notes that while his schedule prevents him from attending all of the activities Big Buddy plans, he tries to be present at as many as possible to “share a positive image with these young people.”
Mentors have a one-year trial period with the program during which all activities are supervised. When Conyers and the college-age mentors complete that phase, they’ll be able to meet and do more activities with their buddies.
The coach says he’s looking forward to introducing his little buddy to college life, “so we can keep him on the right track and give him something to look forward to in the near future.”
TO GET INVOLVED with the Big Buddy Program, call (225) 388-9737 or email email@example.com.
By Emily Kern Hebert
Published Jun 23, 2014