Student coaches foster passion in youth sports


Photo courtesy of Soph Bartolone

Team photo of Soph Bartolone and her Bulldogs basketball team

Connor Foote, Editor-in-Chief

Youth coaching is a great way to give back to the community. Many Madison students coach because they want to give young players an experience similar to theirs, watch them fall in love with their sports or relive their past as a failed athlete, blaming their shortcomings on an exaggerated ACL injury that was more of a sprain than a tear. Some simply want to rack up some service hours. These three Madison coaches tried their hand at the coaching trade: Caitlynn Hastings (’23) and her swimmers, Luke Kenney’s (’23) Orange Crush and Soph Bartolone (’23) and her basketballers.

Hastings is an avid swimmer who emulates legends such as the coaches of Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky, despite swimming being extremely tedious. Her main motivation was helping the children develop their strokes.

“I love being able to witness young athletes grow and improve as they become more confident in their abilities,” Hastings said. “It feels great to witness them seeing the benefits of their hard work pay off. Many of my swimmers saw huge time drops or even legalization in strokes they had previously struggled in.”

These little runts may come in as beginners, but our fantastic coaches whip them into shape right away. Take the Venerable Orange Crush, to which the title venerable may not apply. Winning only three games this season, Kenney’s team had a bigger emphasis on development.

“My players are doing amazing,” Kenney said. “They’ve all really progressed from all ends of the roster.” 

Basketball wasn’t the only focus for his team this year as they helped guide a player whose first language was not English. 

“It was amazing for us coaches to watch him improve not only his basketball skills but also his English as the season progressed,” Kenney said.

Kenney was not the only coach who tried their hand at Phil Jackson’s legacy. A relatively authoritarian coach comparable to Bob Knight or Bill Belichick, Bartolone’s Orange Crush very well in their league.

“I love when I give my team instruction during practices and they internalize it and put it to use during games. very rewarding for both me and the team”, Bartolone said.

The Bulldogs were the peak of athletic performance thanks to her contributions, winning games left, right, center and slightly right of center. They advanced all the way to their league’s championship game, winning in glorious fashion, 19-15.

“Success requires collaboration,” Bartolone said. “You can’t be successful without social support, whether that support be from family, friends or teammates”.

Regardless of record, performance or results, these coaches certainly have helped to shape their players’ athletic futures, and in the process played an honorable part in helping the community.