|Dr. Paul. G Young|
President and CEO
Please excuse me for thinking in football analogies at this time of the year. Quite often, however, analogies can reach, teach, and connect with kids and adults in the afterschool world in ways in ways that other forms of conversation cannot.
If you are like me, you root for one or more favorite football teams each fall. The better you understand the game, the more you know that starting field position and good offense are keys to scoring touchdowns. This becomes most apparent when the ability and experience levels of the teams are heavily mismatched. When less capable team kicks to one with a dominant, experienced offense, that team often gets the ball with excellent field position. Anyone should be able to see that it is easier to score touchdowns when your team receives the ball at midfield rather than deep in the end zone. But, nothing causes more exhilaration for the underdog than moving the ball against all obstacles all the way down the field for a touchdown. Those scoring drives become legendary and sources of pride for the entire team.
We all know that many of our at-risk students are dominated by those with more advantages. Those who have benefited from better experiences find it much easier to take the ball and score. But many of our kids, though, always seem to get the ball deep in their end zone. They must run further and harder, avoid fumbles and numerous tacklers – often without very much offensive support. But when they do, the crowds stand and cheer.
You are the coaches and the offensive support for our afterschool students. You teach and encourage them to start their offensive runs and learn what other dominant teams players already know. You help kids overcome all odds. And nothing beats seeing your kids start from deep in the end zone and run the entire length of the field for a touchdown. That is pride! No amount of money means more to you.
NAA wants to be there for you to cheer your team on to greater success. We respect and appreciate the work you do.
One of the celebratory events which we all can enjoy each year is the NAA Convention and Exhibition. Join us in Orlando, Florida, April 16-18, 2011. Consider our gathering of afterschool professionals in that great city to be the best afterschool coaching clinic anywhere. Come celebrate and learn new offensive and defensive strategies that will help all our students successfully carry their ball from deep in the end zone – and score!
Dr. Paul G. Young, President and CEO, National AfterSchool Association