Monday, August 30, 2010

Cabrini Connections' Coaching Clinic

In the NFL there are annual coaching clinics that new and veteran coaches attend to not only learn any and all new rules for the upcoming season, but they use this as an opportunity to learn and share skills and techniques that they can take back to their respective organizations. No matter what time of the year these clinics take place the information that is shared between the coaches and all that attend is beneficial for all, but especially for new and/or younger coaches. The experience and the wealth of knowledge that the coaches posses could play a huge role in that individual coaches success as well as the overall team in that upcoming season.

Last week here at Cabrini Connections we hosted our own version of Coaching Clinics in the form of Leadership Meetings. As the Head Coach of the organization and with Bradley Troast being the Offensive and Defensive Coordinator, we called meetings with some of our key position coaches to discuss the previous season here and to brainstorm ideas for the upcoming season. On Monday of last week we met with our Volunteer Coordinators who are all new to the role, but 3 out of the 4 have been in the organization in various roles for years. Bradley and I are confident that these 4 new Volunteer Coordinators will have an immediate impact on the organization this year and will assist with leading us to a great season. They all had very good ideas of how we can engage the students, volunteers, and parents and a variety of other ideas that should add to the overall success of the program. The 2010-2011 Volunteer Coordinators are Tonya Myers, Amy Stockli (Wednesday), Courtland Madock, and Melissa Iwami!!!

On Tuesday we met with our Club Coordinators. These coaches lead the variety of clubs that we provide the players of the Cabrini Connections' program. The clubs that we are offering this year are Video and Filmmaking Club, Art Club, Tech Club, and Writing Club. The practice sessions for this part of the organization take place on Monday-Wednesday evenings so that our players can take part in these opportunities as well as the regularly scheduled tutoring/mentoring practices on Wednesday and Thursday evening. The Club Coordinators' meeting also went very well with a lot of sharing of great ideas about future projects, collaborative efforts between the clubs, and just an overall excitement from these coaches that can and will lead to excitement amongst the players that join these opportunities this year. The 2010-2011 Club Coordinators are: Shu Ling Yong and Drew Hall (Video and Filmmaker's Club), Ankit Vader and Julia Vaughan (Art Club), Mike Trakan (Staff) and Chirag Patel (Tech Club), and Shannyn Nellet is planning on returning as the Writing Club Coach along with one or two new volunteers joining her in that role.

We completed our last day of the Coaching Clinic by meeting with our College Zone Coordinators. The College Zone area is a resource within the program where our players and coaches receive individualized game plans for the players' future high school, college, and career choices. College Zone coaches meet with player and coach pairs throughout the year to provide these resources along with assisting with standardized test prep, college visits, assistance with financial aid etc... During out meeting we came up with some great new plays for the playbook for the 2010-2011 school year that should continue put our players, coaches, and even parents in a position to have continued success this season. The College Zone Coaches for the 2010-2011 season are Carla Reyes and Sue Gill (Wednesday) and Iesha Wilson and new coach Lindsay Devick (Thursday).

The coaching clinics were a great success and we feel that as leaders in the program we are prepared to have a great season and lead both the players and coaches to a successful season. We will continue to communicate as leaders, brainstorm new plays for the playbook, lead by example, and work as a team to ensure we are putting the Cabrini Connections' program in the best possible position to make it to the Tutoring/Mentoring Superbowl! We are looking to take the lead in what takes place on and off the field, but getting more support from our fans and boosters of the program will equip us with even more resources and tools that can and will contribute to our overall success. We are not asking our fans to paint their face and chest, tailgate all day, or scream until you lose your voice...we are simply asking you to support us by making a donation, making an effort to come visit one of our games (tutoring session), and get some of those in your network to join the Cabrini Connections' bandwagon so they too can consider making a donation or joining you at the game.

With YOUR Support...WE Will Be Successful!

Friday, August 20, 2010


In the National Football League there are tons of big plays that take place throughout the season that are considered big plays, classic moments, and sportscenter's Top 10 Plays of the week worthy. There are plays on offense such as one of the many deep bombs that Peyton Manning throws to one of his many weapons, to plays on defense such as a interception from Ed Reed that is ran back for a touchdown, to one of the biggest plays of the 2009-2010 NFL season where the Saints of New Orleans dialed up a on-side kick in the Super Bowl that lead to a HUGE Super Bowl win! These are a few of the many amazing plays made by players that not only leave fans in the stands and at home in aww, but lead to players, coaches, and entire organizations making their mark in NFL history.

Non profit organizations all over the world also look to make amazing plays that lead to a BIG SCORE, but the BIG SCORE in non profit organizations may look a little different than in the National Football League. Because of the financial situation of the Cabrini Connections' organization, I'm sure many others, the BIG SCORE is not always enrolling dedicated and committed volunteers and students to the team, the big score is not always having alumni (student or volunteer) come back to the facility and share some words of wisdom to the current players and coaches, and the big score is not always putting together a great team building opportunity so the coaches and players in the organization can strengthen their bond. Because of the financial situation that Cabrini Connections, and similar program, are in the BIG SCORE is primarily receiving news that a grant has been approved, a potential donor is interested in investing and confirmed to support the franchise, and/or current players and coaches have brainstormed a great fundraising idea.

The Cabrini Connections' franchise has a goal that all of the players (students) that join the team and remain committed to the team (and the mission) will be in a career by the age of 25. And with that being the mission many would think that BIG SCORES would be the students graduating from high school, entering and graduating from college, and reaching that goal of entering a career by the age of 25. And it's true, that is and always will be the goal and what each member of the organization should be working towards in the many roles in the organization, but due to the lack of resources the image of the BIG SCORE may look more like Bank of America becoming a team sponsor, $100,000+ generating at the annual golf outing, or future Hall of Famer Orlando Pace becoming our #1 Booster Club member.

Hopefully we are able in the near future to obtain the necessary resources in the Cabrini Connections' franchise so that we are equipped to keep the team intact, the facilities open and in great conditions, and a continued pipeline of great players and coaches so the BIG SCORES will be noted as coaches coaching their players to great playing careers(tutoring/mentoring) and they will be entering the Hall of Fame by the age of 25.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Strategic Network Building for Support

I'm going to go out on a limb here by saying that EVERYBODY has a network. No matter if you are 6 years old and your network is family and your classmates or you are Bill Gates and your network is extensive. But what is the use of a network if you can't utilize AND mobilize that network. The President/CEO of Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection, Dan Bassill, put together the graphic you see here in hopes that not only the organization's staff, students, and volunteers use it, but any and all of those connected to Cabrini Connections will use in order to continue to expand the organization's network that could essentially lead to a wider range of support.

Yesterday, after taking a moment to study the chart, I began to add names to the slots. This is easier said that done. True, I could have just threw names on the list, but I wanted to be strategic in my work. I looked at each category and really made an effort to add names of people who I first felt would be interested in the cause and then I considered the fact that they would either have the resources to support and/or could connect me to others in their network that could potentially respond with support also.

I put together a letter of support providing more information about who we are, what we do, and why I am involved and why others my want to get involved in some way. I also added a donation form so that after reading the information that was provided those people could easily contribute. I sent that information to nearly 40 people. The information went out to a wide range of people, from my mother and my father who will support me and my endeavors no matter what, to NFL stars such as Barry Cofield, Tyrell Sutton, and Orlando Pace who benefited from mentors and a support system on their road to success.

My number 1 goal is that everybody that receives the information takes the time to read the information and from that point decide how they can support. I am just one of over 2000+ people that are connected to Cabrini Connections in some way. If every current student, volunteer, staff, if every student, staff, and volunteer alumnus, and if every parent and/or former supporter of the program took 30 minutes out of their day atleast once a week and used this tool to strategically network build for Cabrini Connections not only would we expand our network greatly, but that would put us in a position to provide all of our students, volunteers, and staff with the resources necessary to be successful. And who doesn't want to be successful?...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Meet two alumni

Here are two stories of young people who started with us many years ago.

Tramane Montel Ford got his first taste of acting in 1995 when he became part of the video group at Cabrini Connections. On August 7th he performed his new show, The Tramaine Experience: A One Man Show, and raised money so we can help other kids have similar experiences.

Isaiah Brooms was a Keynote Speaker at the November 2009 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference, where he told how his life has taken a positive direction because of the support he received from his mentor, and the tutoring/programs he was part of. Here's the full transcript of his presentation.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Through Adversity Comes Success!!!

There are a few phrases in the NFL that nearly every coach and player have said atleast once in their career or has gone through it as a team or individually and one of those is "dealing with adversity." In the NFL that can mean so many different things to so many different people and teams; adversity could come in the form of an injury to a player, an interception late in the 4th quarter, or an unexpected coaching change. Quite simply adversity is usually when something unexpected happens that typically goes against the goals of a individual player or coach or the entire organization. And when those adverse situations take place teams and the members that make up the entire organization have to rally together, work harder, and fight through the adversity to reach success.

On Saturday August 7th the Cabrini Connections' team and several other tutoring/mentoring teams came together for an event...a one day tournament if you will. The name of the tournament was "Back to School...Make it Cool" and the goal of the tournament was for each team to come together and successfully inform, entertain, feed, and supply those that attended the tournament.

Just like in the National Football League the players and teams prepare by practicing, communicating, and doing all of the big and small things to prepare to be successful, and we all did the same heading into the event. But adversity struck on the day of the event. There were a series of adverse situations that worked against our teams and went against the goals we were working towards. About an hour before the tournament was suppose to start the location of the tournament was changed, supplies and materials that were necessary for the tournament was not in place (tables, chairs, performance stage, etc...), the power went out at one point, and some members of teams did not or could not show up to assist with the tournament and more. This is the adversity that we had to go through this past Saturday, but through adversity comes success and triumph!

The members of the various teams kept the faith, kept the end goal as the focus, took on different roles, supported each other, and continued to fight through the adversity throughout the day. We were able to to successfully feed each and every person who wanted to eat, we provided a wide range of games and activities for all in attendance, all of the scheduled performances performed successfully and entertained the crowd, each and every youth who needed a backpack with supplies got their backpack, and we did all of that and more with more than 5 minutes to spare before the 2pm ending of our tournament!!!

We know and understand that things will not always go as planned and their will be adversity on our route to success, but this is a great example of how various teams in the tutoring/mentoring league came together and successfully hosted the 1st conference wide Back to School event (tournament)! And very similar to the NFL we will look back at our individual and team preparation for the event and take a look at the game film to make the necessary adjustments to that we are even better prepared for adversity and even with the expected and unexpected adversity we'll be even more successful next year!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Fun Night at Dave & Busters!

Last night we were able to treat some of our upperclassmen to a pretty nice experience at Dave and Busters. Each year during the 3rd and final quarter of the tutoring/mentoring year (after spring break-end of the year) we reward our students who have 75% or better attendance to the program with some type of trip or prize during the summer months. Over the past several years we have been hosting the "GREAT AMERICAn Experience" where we provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner for our students along with a fun-filled day to Six Flags Great America.

This year we decided to switch things up, based on our financial status and because of different suggestions from our students. And we came up with two different incentives for our students who demonstrated outstanding attendance. Last night we took our 10-12th grade students to Dave and Busters and we had a GREAT night! We had a total of 9 upperclassmen who earned the trip, but only 4 were able to attend. The students that attended were De'Sean Hale (2010 graduate), Brittany Delaney (2010 graduate), Victoria Rivera (senior), and Melissa Young (junior).

We started the night with dinner and it was a great opportunity for all of the students to get to know each other and share their experiences inside and outside of the program. We have around 75-80 students in our program each year and they are coming from 30 different schools, so all of our students in the program may or may not be familiar with each other. We talked about the program, college (2 students are heading off to college soon), we talked about favorite tv shows, and just had a good time during dinner. Then the real fun started!!! We all were equipped with our game cards and entered the game room ready to play games, have fun, and of tickets!

So just spent time playing the games, challenging each other, laughing, and having a good time celebrating the accomplishment of the students. One of the many highlights of the night was when Brittany hit the jackpot on one of the games, the lights and sirens went off, and she won 500 tickets!!! The students were able to cash in their tickets at the end of the night and get gifts, games, prizes, and candy that they 'SAID' they would share with siblings and parents...we'll see about that one (smile).

Overall it was a GREAT experience of not only having fun and celebrating their attendance accomplishment, but it was also another opportunity for us as staff to interact and engage the students. It was also a bonding opportunity amongst the students. Hopefully they will continue to show their dedication and commitment inside and outside of the program, but also I hope that they will share their experiences and continue to role model positive actions so that others will follow their example.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Gearing Up for the 2010-2011 Tutoring/Mentoring Season

"Are you ready for some football!?!?!" For any and all football fans out there the month of August is similar to the month of December with the anticipation of the first game of the NFL season being very similar to Christmas morning. But those who truly are fans of the NFL and especially those who are either players, coaches, team owners etc...know there is a lot the takes place prior to the opening kickoff of a new season. There is a lot of film watching, the NFL draft,summer workouts, and a lot of other necessities that lead up the the opening night.

One of the routines that take place is the conditioning test that NFL players must take and successfully past each summer. This test is more than an "in the now" test, meaning that it takes preparation, hard work, proper training, and "good" health for players to past this test. So that means factors from the previous season and the work that has been put in over the summer months directly and indirectly contribute to a player's performance for that conditioning test and the results of the test can say a lot about a players past and give some insight on the future ahead.

The Cabrini Connections' organization is coming off a fairly successful 2009-2010 season, with 9 veteran players graduating from the tutoring/mentoring league and a variety of individual and team highlights through the season. Now Cabrini Connections is gearing up for an even better 2010-2011 season. And we are hosting our own "Conditioning Test" for our players and coaches before we head into the upcoming season. This summer we have been reaching out to all of our returning players (students and their parents) and our returning coaches (volunteers) for our version of a conditioning test. And just like in the NFL, to successfully complete our conditioning test it requires both players and coaches taking part in individual workouts over the summer and during the year, it requires both groups learning the playbook, and it requires "looking at film" of the previous season(s) and reflecting on what went well and what didn't go so well to better prepare for the upcoming season.

During our condition test we are looking to discuss the individuals' ups and downs of the previous season and to set goals and expectations for the next season. So far these meetings have been going very well and we have enjoyed conducting these meetings. These conditioning test has given us a better understanding of the individuals that make up our team and provides us with an idea of the skill set each member possess and the areas that need improvement.

We are hoping that each and every player and coach on the team makes an effort to come in for their conditioning test before the season starts so that we are just one step ahead and ready to hit the ground running before the official team meetings (orientations) September 7-8th for coaches and September 9-10th for players, and the opening season kickoff starts on Wednesday September 15th and Thursday September 16th.

Cabrini Connections is looking to be one of the best organizations in the tutoring/mentoring league at the end of the 2010-2011 season and we need more and more fans to support us and cheer us on to victory. Will you be a fan in the stands?