Paying it Forward: Coaching Leads to Success•
When Colton Alexio learned that his high school coach of four years, Ron Murphy, had been diagnosed with cancer, Alexio was distraught. “Coach Murphy – one of the most influential people in my life – said that he would be there for us ‘no matter what’, in sickness or health,” says Alexio, “And he wasn’t playing around. He was there for me every day until he passed.”
During the regular season and even during the off-season, Murphy was a constant in the player’s lives, caring about how they did in school and what they were going through in their lives. But during Alexio’s senior year, Murphy succumbed to his illness.
“I remember seeing hundreds of people at his funeral. He had impacted so many lives as a coach,” Alexio recalls. “I wanted the chance to have that same impact on kids.”
When Alexio first arrived at UCLA, he learned about Coaching Corps and attended a training, and started coaching soccer and basketball for low- income kids in Culver City, CA. “I was giving back and helping out. There’s no better feeling than that.”
But nothing prepared him for how the experience influenced his own life. After the very first practice, Alexio thought things went well – the kids seemed to like it and he felt like his coach training came in handy. But when he arrived the next day, some of the children asked a very simple question, “What are you doing back?” Alexio was confused, but the kids explained that new people rarely come back into their schools or neighborhoods for them. It was then that Alexio understood the instability that his players faced everyday living in a neighborhood pierced with poverty.
Alexio knew he was doing something important. “My commitment to the kids grew. I wanted to be a stable person in their lives – someone who was there for them ‘no matter what’.”
Just like Coach Murphy was for him.