Cultivating the future of youth athletics


Photo provided by Kendrick Pham

HUDDLE UP: Junior Kendrick Pham shares his expertise with a couple of young swimmers.

Varun Vishnubhotla, Sports Editor

Whether out on the field, pool or court, Northwood athletes strive to be their best and edge out their competition. However, when they aren’t competing or practicing, some athletes choose to help others reach their potential through involvement with community organizations. There are many opportunties for athletes to help out younger people who aspire to improve in their sports. It is truly rewarding to watch others grow and improve. In an interview with the Howler, juniors Kendrick Pham and Darren Huynh shared their experiences coaching younger athletes for the Irvine Swim League (ISL) for five and two years, respectively.

The Howler: How did you get involved in the mentorship program?

Kendrick Pham: Since I was on the Westpark Marlins, the ISL team I attend, for 11 years, the head coach gave me an opportunity to coach there.

TH: Why did you choose to become a coach?

KP: When I was younger in the ISL, I was coached by high schoolers, so I wanted to be like them and help out the community. I also love the interactions with parents, other coaches and swimmers in the pool.

TH: What techniques do you incorporate in your practice sessions? Darren Huynh: I try to recollect any past advice from my previous coaches to improve their technique. It is also important to be encouraging and patient. A majority of the time, the children will often cling to you or the pool wall because they are scared, so you need to listen to them and slowly push them out of their comfort zone.

TH: What were a few challenges and successes you face when coaching?

KP: Some challenges that I had were probably getting swimmers to listen to me, especially the ones closer to my age. They act like they’re your friend and just mess around. On the other hand, the success of coaching is when a kid drops a lot of time from their previous best.

TH: What do you enjoy most as a coach?

DH: The thing I enjoy the most is when my coaching actually works. When dealing with children, it’s very rare to see any immediate progress, but in those few circumstances its very satisfying to see a child improve due to your guidance and their effort.

TH: How can others get involved and give back?

KP: In ISL, if you can swim and are over the age of 15, you can start volunteer coaching for your nearby ISL team. Literally, any volunteer work can help make someone’s day.