Northwood is home to not only some of the most esteemed athletes in the city, but also some of the most dedicated student coaches and certified referees across Irvine. Whether it be in between their own games or during the summer, freshman Ethan Chen, sophomore Enoch Li and junior Felix Zhu invest their time in hopes of training the next generation of high school athletes.
Chen has been playing baseball since the age of four, and is about to begin his first season as part of one of Northwood’s baseball teams. In his spare time, he volunteers as an umpire for the Northwood Little League with players ranging from seven to 12 years old.
“I wanted to be an umpire so I could give back to the community. Also, I wanted to get to know others better and just in general be able to recognize more people living in the area,” Chen said. “Being an umpire helps me sympathize with other umpires when they make a bad call, so I don’t get frustrated at the umpire during the game even if they make a few mistakes.”
Jumping from home base and into the pool, Varsity Swim member Li has been coaching five and seven-year-old swimmers privately for the past one and a half years, working with each of them at their own unique paces.
“Both swimmers are at different stages of learning, so I have to create individual drills suited for their current stage,” Li said. “I love coaching. My inspiration for becoming a coach mostly came from wanting to have a positive influence on younger generations.”
Li attributes much of his success in coaching to his swim coach, Alex Nieto, who he looks to for inspiration when training his own swimmers.
“He has shown me a wide variety of methods on how to deal with such a diverse group of swimmers,” Li said. “I’ve seen the different ways he uses to train everyone, but most importantly, he has taught me that being passionate about what you do is what makes a coach a great coach.”
Li isn’t the only athlete who teaches future high school swimmers in his free time. Another athlete on Varsity Swim, Zhu has been swimming since before he can remember, and because of his expertise and commitment towards the sport he loves, he was given the opportunity to become a swim coach before even starting high school.
“I have coached swim for four years now and it has primarily been at Northwood during the summers,” Zhu said. “Currently, I coach all ages from elementary to middle school, but I prefer working with 10-12 year olds because that’s when they really start to develop into who they are.”
Zhu believes that swim has not only affected him physically, but has also affected him mentally. One of the reasons why he decided to pursue swim coaching in the first place was so that he could mentor future swim athletes to attain the same skills, tips, and tricks that he received when he first started taking lessons.
“Swimming has always been a very important aspect of my life since my childhood,” Zhu said. “Some of my best memories come with this sport, so I really wanted to share similar experiences with the kids and help them develop into stronger individuals both physically and mentally.”