PHOTO CAPTION: Chief Warrant Officer 5 Cortez Frazier watches several Peewee League football players attack the blocking sled during a recent practice at the 262nd Quartermaster Battalion parade field. His son-in-law and assistant coach, Jeremiah Goddette, holds the sled. Photo Credit: Contributed Photo
September 5, 2013
By Ray Kozakewicz
FORT LEE, Va. (Sept. 5, 2013) -- The Fort Lee CYSS Sports program runs smoothly year-round thanks to the rewarding efforts of more than 175 volunteer head coaches and a large contingent of assistants for the 155 teams.
"The coaches are the backbone of our program," said Dennis J. Posey, director of Youth Sports and Fitness who has been organizing and directing the program at Fort Lee since 1999. "The time they put in is outstanding. Most coaches go to work each day, then spend 2-3 hours several nights a week with their teams and several hours for the games on Saturday mornings."
This season, CYSS has 30 head coaches in soccer, five in cheerleading and eight for flag and tackle football. About 525 children, ages 3-15, are currently registered.
The head coaches usually start out as assistants to learn more about the sport or the required leadership skills, said Posey. "Many like to coach their own child, so that also makes it easy to recruit coaches."
An estimated 75 percent of the head coaches are military school instructors at Fort Lee and are experienced teachers and leaders, he said.
"Returning coaches are a godsend for us," he noted, "particularly coaches who continue after their kids move on."
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Cortez Frazier has been a volunteer coach since 2009. He began with soccer since he had a young grandson who he wanted to mentor. Since then, he has coached baseball, flag and tackle football and basketball as well.
"My wife said, 'you can do it,'" said Frazier who has served 28 years in the Army and is with Charlie Company, 262nd Quartermaster Battalion.
"I said I would do it for one year. But once you see you're helping the kids, you start enjoying it. I like to see the kids grow. I love giving back to my grandson and the other kids."
Like several coaches, he manages to lead two teams and sports at once. This season he's coaching a Peewee League tackle football team of 7-8 year-olds as well a soccer team composed of 6-8 year-olds. He started coaching 4-6 year-olds, then moved up over the years. On Tuesday, Thursday and Friday he directs tackle football from 6:30-7:30 p.m., and oversees the soccer players on Monday and Wednesday nights.
"Football is good, but I love soccer the best -- maybe because of some of the success we've had," he said. "I love teaching fundamentals.
Frazier added, "The parents are great and are always available to help. I get many thank you notes, which makes it all worthwhile."
Capt. Benjamin Lukas, former commander of the 54th Quartermaster Company, has been involved with youth sports here for more than eight years. He has coached T-ball, soccer, basketball and flag and tackle football.
He began at the urging of his wife also, "'You need to coach our kids,'" recalled Lukas. "And I'm glad I did it. It's been above and beyond being involved with coaching."
Lukas likes to instill good sportsmanship and teamwork in his players, and has continued to watch his prodigies grow.
"Over the years, it's great to see the older kids who I coached a few years back doing well. It makes me feel good inside."
Lukas will deploy in early October with the 82nd Sustainment Brigade out of Fort Bragg, N.C. "So, I am working with my assistant to get him up to speed for when I deploy," he said.
"We find that some coaches enjoy it so much they continue even after their retirement such as Coach Tiwan Jarrett," said Posey. "We could ask him to help coach anything, and he would help us out."
Jarrett, who recently retired as a master sergeant, has coached for about six years. He now heads up an 11-12-year-old Junior League tackle football team. He also has coached baseball, T-ball and basketball. He began volunteering in 2006 and then returned in 2012 after being deployed
"My kids took an interest in football so I wanted to coach. I try to show all the kids how to play the right way and to have a love for the game," said Jarrett.
He continues to coach due to the strong support of parents and other volunteers too.
"My parents are the best ever. They support us -- both mothers and fathers. They also re-emphasize with their kids what they've seen us do in practice. Parents always welcome you back. This support and appreciation makes it all worthwhile."
All the coaches salute the amount of support they receive from the youth sports team -- Posey, Sherman Cordle, program assistant; and Brenda Alvarez, assistant director.
Jarrett said, "They let us coach our teams and have been a big supporter since day one. They also try to upgrade our equipment each year, and continue to be there for all our needs and questions."
"It's been great dealing with Dennis, Sherman and Brenda. They make you feel like you're part of the team. Brenda is great to work with on all the scheduling details," said Lukas.
"We have such great coaches, we could talk about them all day," said Cordle. " We work with them anyway we can."
For example, Alvarez recently spent several weeks finalizing practice times to meet the needs of parents for specific nights of the week for practice.
"We try to work with everyone on schedules and teams," said Posey.
CYSS has a detailed set of operating procedures for approving all coaches. In addition to having extensive background checks conducted, all must sign a Coaches' Code of Ethics and be certified through the National Youth Sports Coaches Association.
New head coaches also are required to watch a series of videos on coaching, and are provided a large volume of materials on various sports as needed.
"Our motto is 'Making it Fun for Kids and Coaches,'" said Posey. "And it works."
For details about CYSS youth coaching, call (804) 734-5364 or 734-4945.