Written by guest writer and MAM Coach, Jerjuanna Fountain
A day at Memphis Athletic Ministries is as Forrest Gump would say, “like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get!”. Each day is different, each day is new, each day is worth it all!
Normally, the day starts at the schools our students attend. At the heart of what we do at MAM, we strive to coach, grow, and lead, and I can not achieve any of these if I don’t show my students that I am willing to meet them where they are. I have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and going back to middle and high school, yikes! While there, I get to see students, get to know their teachers, and get a better understanding of what they are learning or having difficulties learning. This helps me better serve my students holistically.
From there, it’s to the gym where we go over daily plans: literacy, Bible study, sports, life skills, and a host of random activities that a coach may have for their age group! After that, all coaches pray and then the fun happens! Students flood in, the tik-toking begins, sports like volleyball and flag football are played, and there are always boys who think they can beat Coach Jerjuanna in a game of “around the world” and they get shown otherwise.
Depending on the day, the boys and girls will have a sports practice, get lunch, have free play, devotional daily, and a bible study once a week. My favorite times, regardless of the week, the day or the activity, are the times I get to listen to conversations from students. One can learn so much from listening! Merely being present can grow a trust that words could never describe. In order to coach, grow, lead, and help my students discover anything, I must know who they are and what they have experienced in their lives—and I must allow them to know me. These conversations give ground for that, and it’s crazy because they can happen at any given time, during any given activity, and no matter the plan for the day. I have to have the willingness to engage with my students, a willingness to hear and to listen, a willingness to show that, even in conversations, it’s okay to have emotions. It’s okay to be vulnerable.
My all time favorite conversation started during a bible study game. We were talking through Matthew 14 when Peter walked on water. The lesson focused on trust, something we all struggle with, and one student did not want to participate. She said, “I don’t even trust my own family. Why would I trust you or any one to catch me?” After ten minutes of encouragement, the girl finally did it. When she fell back and was caught by another student, she was completely amazed. She could not believe that the other student actually caught her. The amazing part was the student that caught her walked over to me and said, “Coach, I had to trust myself too.”
A day at MAM is always a surprise, nothing really ever goes as planned, but the day is always needed, the lessons are always learned, and lives are forever changed—mine, students, other workers, day after day!