We were thrilled to partner with the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation on June 25th for our sixth virtual Dodgers RBI coaches’ training webinar. The session began with Nichol Whiteman, the CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation and PCA-LA Chapter Board member, who mentioned the Foundation’s efforts to support RBI families through the challenges of the pandemic.
Dodgers RBI is a sports-based youth development program established by the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation. It offers kids baseball and softball programs that address more than physical health and knowledge of the game. The program works to support LA-area youth with vital social and emotional learning and access to health care and educational resources.
Over the last few months, the LA Dodgers Foundation provided more than 2,000 RBI families with food boxes, equipment, fitness supplies and educational resources. The Foundation plans to serve 2,000 more families by July 1st.
Whiteman also announced that the LA Dodgers Foundation was recognized as the 2020 Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year by ESPN and ABC for the 2020 ESPY Awards on June 21st.
“While we are so proud of that win, we don’t do the work we do for the recognition, but we do the work because of the communities we serve need it most,” Whiteman said. “It’s a wonderful celebration of our accomplishments during this time but we know we can’t do it without partners and our families and our coaches. So, we celebrate this win tonight with our coaches.”
Natasha Watley, Olympic Gold Medalist and UCLA Hall of Fame Member was featured as the webinar’s special guest. PCA’s Marti Reed moderated the conversation, which centered on their shared love of softball, life lessons from sports, advice for coaches and the ways in which sports can battle racism.
Watley, who grew up in Irvine, California and started playing softball at the age of 5, believes that one of the main lessons that sports can offer is the importance of continual and incremental progress.
“What I’ve learned through sports is to not be as focused on the end product but on what you’re doing every single day, as a part of the journey and focusing on that process and how you are showing up [to the game],” Watley remarked.
Following an incredible career as a two-time Olympic medalist, Watley established the Natasha Watley Foundation in 2009 to create opportunities for girls in underserved communities to learn and play softball. For the first time, Watley transitioned from player to coach.
Softball was the thing that united us. Softball connected me with others and allowed me to understand that we are different and to learn from our cultural differences. I think it’s critical for coaches, both in this time and going forward, to encourage their athletes to share experiences so that they can come together as a team.
Want more resources from this Webinar? Watch below!
Natasha Watley on Staying in the Moment in Sports
Natasha Watley Talks About the Transition from Playing to Coaching
Natasha Watley Speaks bout How Sports Can Battle Racism
“Coaching is a whole 'nother ballgame. Playing and coaching are two different worlds. Now you are having to fill [emotional] tanks and inspire athletes to see the potential that you see in them and that’s hard,” Watley said. “The biggest lesson that I’ve learned from the transition is that you don’t always have to know all of the answers. Focus on encouraging and inspiring your athletes. Teach the game and the fundamentals but always remember to provide the emotional support your kids need to be confident competitors.”
When reflecting on our country’s current climate on issues of social justice, Watley firmly believes that sports offer a strong avenue for social change and important conversations between athletes and coaches.
“My experience growing up as an African American girl who played softball sheltered me from the outside world because I was connected to so many girls from different racial and religious backgrounds,” Watley explained. “Softball was the thing that united us. Softball connected me with others and allowed me to understand that we are different and to learn from our cultural differences. I think it’s critical for coaches, both in this time and going forward, to encourage their athletes to share experiences so that they can come together as a team.”
PCA is grateful for Natasha Watley’s work and time to make this conversation possible for our 150 attendees. Thank you as well to Marti Reed, our National Partnerships & Marketing Manager, for helping facilitate this. We would also like to thank the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation for their incredible work with their RBI families and the Los Angeles community.