• July 22, 2019

ECISD implementing Coaching Boys into Men - Odessa American: Local News

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ECISD implementing Coaching Boys into Men

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Posted: Sunday, February 3, 2019 4:00 am

As a way to change the culture, Coaching Boys into Men is being implemented at all of Ector County Independent School District middle school campuses.

Aaron Thomas, Crisis Center of West Texas Battering Intervention and Prevention Program coordinator and community service manager said Coaching Boys into Men is a character building leadership curriculum where they are trying to change norms in schools.

Coaches are some of the top influencers at the schools and young men look up to them, Thomas said.

“It (the curriculum) talks about how to treat women and girls with respect, insulting language, consent, boundaries, communication. It’s a whole plethora of things that they talk about in those 12 weeks to start shedding that light on why do I do what I do,” Thomas said.

It also teaches athletes how to confront people if they see something negative going on at the school.

“This is something that I’ve been doing some research on. The average age of a young man starting to watch porn is 11. At 11 years old, young men start to objectify women in a way that shows them less human than they are. In the middle schools, it’s kind of where the mindsets and the concepts that are going to follow these young men through life start to begin,” Thomas said. “So starting to have these conversations earlier could potentially stop someone from getting into trouble because they didn’t know, or have, the information that we’re trying to give them now.”

If it works, it could be something that’s offered community and area wide.

“It’s real. I was in the oilfield for five years. This is something totally different. I’ve been doing it for a year and a half and experiencing it and seeing it,” Thomas said. “It can change your life. Another reason why we wanted to put this is in school is because I have a class for men who have been abusive on Sundays. And a lot of those men age range from 18 to 50 and older. They were just saying, ‘I wish I had this information when I was growing up.’”

It clicked that no one was giving these men information. They were just picking up information and assuming they were living their lives right, Thomas said. The program changes the young men’s perspective.

“Now they can’t say they didn’t know because you knew and you still did it. We’re just trying to give them that information to keep them out of trouble,” Thomas said.

The coaches are presenting the topics and Thomas said if there is something the coach isn’t sure about, they can call him.

“This is more of a hands-on type approach where every two or three weeks I’m going to go out to the school and just kind of see how it’s going and if they need any help,” Thomas said. “I really want to see it work; give these young men information. It can really transform and change their life. It’s one of those things where if it catches on it can be a community wide thing to where not only just the athletes are learning it, it’s everyone in the community.”

ECISD Executive Director of Athletics Bruce McCrary said students are influenced by what they see and hear on social media, TV, movies and video games.

“… This is a program that’s organized. It addresses a lot of topics that we needed to address to get kids to learn how to respect other people; how to handle conflicts in the right way. I think it originally started because of the problems that some men have with disrespecting women. The coaches said they were seeing some of the same things in junior high boys that they didn’t know how to respect the opposite sex, including teachers,” McCrary said.

“It’s not the fault of the kids. It’s the things that they’re being influenced by. If we can get kids to learn those things, it affects our classrooms and when you have a positive atmosphere in the classroom, you have a better learning environment,” McCrary added.

If they respect the teacher, they will take the class more seriously.

“We were having some issues with junior high boys saying the wrong things, disrespectful things to teachers,” McCrary said.

He added that a lot of times, the athlete would tell the coach they didn’t know they couldn’t do the thing they did.

“Our coaches have a lot of influence over kids and so this is a system for them to be able to have an organized plan to address some of those topics,” McCrary said.

The program is 15 minutes a week for 12 weeks, “but what happens is they use that 15 minutes to address a topic and typically that 15 minutes turns into longer because kids want to talk about it. They have questions that hopefully stimulate the kids to ask more questions, but sometimes a kid will hear it in a group and they’ll go to a coach one-on-one and say, ‘This happened the other day. How should I have handled that?’ That kind of stuff,” McCrary said.

McCrary said the district will look at the program’s effectiveness at the end of the year and see, for example, what impact it had on the attitude in the classrooms and if there was less conflict in the hallways.

He added that the coaches of girls’ teams want a program, too.

“We’re working on that with the Crisis Center and hope to be able to have … a program with the girls that we can turn out in August because our female coaches want the same thing. They need to teach their girls right and wrong in a lot of areas,” McCrary said.

Nimitz Middle School Athletic Coordinator Danny Wright said he thinks Coaching Boys into Men will have a positive impact this year and years down the road. It also will help prepare students to become better husbands, better men, better brothers and better friends.

“I think it doesn’t happen overnight, but you have to start from somewhere. As coaches, whether we like it or not, we are role models,” Wright said.

It’s important that coaches make sure that they do what they say and say what they do.

“You can’t penalize the kid for doing something that they see you do. …,” Wright said.

He added that he’s excited about the program and thinks men in general would benefit from it.

“I know some 40-year-old boys, some 50-year-old boys. I also am privileged enough to know some 14- and 15-year-old men and you celebrate that. But I think the principal, the teachers, the more aware that your school becomes that the program is in place I think the whole faculty will start to appreciate and start to see your athlete in a better light. So it’s a win-win. I think the parents would appreciate that we place that much importance on their child … rather than win, win, win,” Wright said.

He added that he has not gotten a lot of feedback yet because the program is still in the early stages. But even if ECISD doesn’t continue it, it will stay with the students as they go through life.

“This is giving something to a child without wanting anything in return. How often does that happen?” Wright said.

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