Here are comments from incarcerated men who are coaches of the San Quentin sports teams. They report coaching challenges, the qualities that coaches should possess, life skills that men could learn through coaching, and their main goals through mentoring.
San Quentin Giants Infielder Coach Frankie Smith: “One of the biggest challenges is talent verses attitude. Another challenge is how to utilize each player to help benefit the team’s success. There are three kinds of players: those who need to be pushed, those that need to be left alone, and those who cannot be coached.”
San Quentin Warriors Interim Basketball Coach Daniel Wright: “Some of the challenges are dealing with different attitudes, trying to get everyone playing time, and trying to be understanding with players that may have issues going on in their everyday prison life.”
Karriem Shaheed, offensive coach for the San Quentin All Madden flag football team, explains the qualities that a coach should have. He said, “A coach should have patience, foresight, good communication skills and be a good listener.”
Wright explained his opinion concerning the qualities a coach should possess: “A coach should have patience, be authoritative and respected, and have understanding. A coach should have knowledge of the game, try to give guidance and help to some of the younger players that will be going home in a couple of years.”
Coach John “Yahya” Parrett and Assistant Coach Jeffry Evans of the San Quentin A’s expressed what they believe are the life skills men can learn through coaching. They said, “You can learn how to be a decent human being, to be focused and founded just as you would being a parent.
Orlando Harris, defensive coach for the San Quentin All Madden flag football team: “Some of the life skills one can learn through coaching are to have honor, respect and a good work ethic. However, the most important things one can learn are communication, sportsmanship, patience and the ability to listen to constructive criticism.”
Harris discussed some of his main goals through mentoring: “Being a coach allows me to be me a molder of men. By coaching, I’m able to set a positive example, not for just young men, but all men. Some of the benefits I get from coaching are seeing men learn the meaning of teamwork, integrity and responsibility. These characteristics will enable them to utilize these qualities in their communities upon their release.”
Shaheed said: “Coaching helps me to teach what I have learned to others and also to help them learn from the errors that I’ve made spiritually, mentally and physically. Coaching allows me to help each player find out what he is capable of, fine tune his talents and become the best that he can.”