“I changed my career to become a full-time advocate of youth athletics because of my experience with New Horizons.”
This week for our Spotlight Series, Kevin McCloskey shares his experiences volunteering for New Horizons and the deep impact it had on him.
How did you hear about New Horizons?
I heard about New Horizons by searching the open coaching positions on the Central Texas Youth Lacrosse website. I was seeking a developmental program and New Horizons fit perfectly.
What made you choose to volunteer?
I’ve played lacrosse most of my life and always wanted to give back to the sport. The coaches that I’ve had in my life have deeply inspired me and taught me lessons that I fall back on each and every day. My hope was to start coaching and learn as I went along, starting with being respectful and enthusiastic, then learning from the kids and the NH leaders.
How did volunteering fit into your life? Was it a hard adjustment?
I was working a 9-5 job in South Austin. At first, Coach [David Hamill] and I meet at different schools and run PE classes using soft lacrosse gear. After a while, Martin Middle School wanted to continue lacrosse, so I would use my lunch break to attend their lunch and talk with kids and teachers about lacrosse. On Saturdays we began having practice in the field behind the school. Schedule adjustment is always a little difficult, but after starting I realized it was exactly the type of purpose I’d been missing.
How did you volunteer, and did that role evolve as time went on?
I did whatever was needed. More often than not, I was coaching. But coaching also involves organizing equipment, creating practice plans, completing registration with the kids, talking to parents, and whatever it takes to build the program. As I went along, I became the head coach of the Martin Middle School team. We had an official schedule, me the other coaches at the CTYLA meeting at the Capitol building, and played our first official season. We wore the football jerseys and the basketball coach, Coach Cray, became our girls coach. It was amazing how much Martin Middle began to identify with lacrosse, I was extremely inspired by the individual students growth and learning about their lives changed my career trajectory.
What is the most rewarding part of contributing to NH’s growth?
Getting to know the student-athletes and being part of their growth was the most impactful part of my experience volunteering. There is so much growth, confidence-building, and positive reinforcement you can encourage through New Horizons. Right in their mission statement it is stated that, “We encourage the development of High Impact Attributes (HIAs) in our players, useful in sports, that also impact positive decision-making, and positive outcomes related to health, education, and risk prevention.” That is exactly what I learned to do with youth and this experience made me both a better person and helped me understand my experience when I was a youth being coached.
What kind of potential do you see from this organization?
The sky is the limit for New Horizons. The organization can either expand into high schools, as they have in LBJ, where students attend after Martin, or NH can continue to expand to middle schools to create competition in East Austin. Coaches, fields and equipment will always be parts of the expansion of lacrosse, but with community support, the game of lacrosse in East Austin has no limits.