Through coaching kids, three students are able to connect with the sports they love

Through coaching kids, three students are able to connect with the sports they love

Senior Colin McAlister, junior Allyson Makalous and sophomore Gwen Kline have found new ways to get involved with athletics
Junior Allyson Makalous coaches at Pinnacle Gymnastics and Goldfish Swim School

Junior Allyson Makalous coaches at Pinnacle Gymnastics and Goldfish Swim School to connect with the sports she enjoyed as a child.

Makalous was a gymnast when she was younger and does dance currently, which is part of the reason she began coaching at Pinnacle Gymnastics. However, she also just enjoys working with kids.

“I love hanging out with younger people,” Makalous said. “I think that they’re so creative and I think that they’re so innovative. They’re just really smart human beings but not in the sense that we normally consider smart.”

She enjoys coaching advanced recreational gymnastics the most at Pinnacle because of the kids’ fun personalities. 

“Seven to nine [years old] is the range that I love to coach because they’re super duper creative,” Makalous said. “They always come up with the most random things, and they’re so giggly and happy. Their day is determined by how many jokes they can say rather than tests and I just think that’s so awesome. I just love how joyful they are.”

However, when it comes to swim, Makalous enjoys her classes with the toddlers the most.

“My favorite [age range] for swim is the one to two year olds,” Makalous said. “I just love holding them and making that connection physically and emotionally – just meeting with them and understanding they’re terrified. They’re putting themselves into a pool and they’re with someone that they’ve never seen before and I think that it’s so awesome that they just adapt.”

For Makalous, the joy in coaching ultimately comes in the moments of success after a lot of hard work.

“It’s those little moments that make it [so fun],” Makalous said. “It’s not about getting the skill, it’s more about accomplishing the goal and working for and achieving something that you thought you couldn’t do.”

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Sophomore Gwen Kline coaches at Dance Expressions

Sophomore Gwen Kline has a similar backstory to Makalous in that she began coaching at Dance Expressions because she herself is a dancer. Kline also said the kids are what make coaching so fun.

“They’re so cute and silly,” Kline said. “Of course, they go a little crazy, but they’re just so sweet and they always want to do better.”

Despite Kline’s love for the job now, she was nervous to begin coaching because of the students she would need to be in charge of. She was able to grow past that and coaching has helped her develop as a dancer and a person in many ways.

“I got asked to [coach] and I thought this would be a really good experience for me just in general and it’ll help my confidence get better,” Kline said. “I felt like it would help my skills a lot.”

Having background knowledge of the skills in dance has become a great help for Kline because it gives her the ability to teach from her own experience.

“Knowing what I need to do and dancing with confidence helps a lot,” Kline said. “When instructing the kids, you get to know them and their personality and can help them out, but you can also work on your own dance skills. If you’re doing tendus you can focus on pointing your foot while you’re coaching.”

For Kline, coaching dance is not only about teaching the technical skills, it’s also about sharing fun moments with the students in her classes.

“Recently, we were dancing and we didn’t have the music and the main teacher was out of the room, so we had to sing the song,” Kline said. “We didn’t really know the lyrics but the kids started singing and it was just so cute and wholesome.”

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Senior Colin McAlister coaches wrestling at Mill Valley Kids Club and Monticello Trails Middle School

Senior Colin McAlister has been immersed in the sport of wrestling his entire life. He decided to also become a wrestling coach at the Mill Valley Kids Club and Monticello Trails Middle School during his freshman year after being inspired by his own coaches.

“I started coaching because I’ve always thought the coaches were my role models growing up and I thought it was important to be a role model,” McAlister said. 

After receiving insightful advice, McAlister saw coaching as a way to better himself while also helping to teach others. 

“I’ve heard a lot of people say, ‘you don’t master something until you can teach someone else’ so I decided to improve my own game and my own wrestling,” McAlister said. “I wanted to practice teaching it to someone else, so I can improve myself and improve others while I do that.”

Coaching kids from six and under all the way up to 14 year olds, McAlister believes that his job of coaching wrestling is crucial in helping the kids learn and develop, especially at that age.

“I think the sport of wrestling helps people in life so by coaching them in wrestling, I can also coach [the kids] and teach them lessons about life,” McAlister said. “That’s really important to me, especially as they grow and develop at such an important age of [their] childhood.”

Coaching has also presented McAlister with the rare and fun opportunity to coach his own younger brother, leading them to secure multiple state titles together. 

“My favorite memory from coaching is definitely when I got to coach my little brother to his two state titles that he won,” McAlister said. “He’s a seventh grader and he wrestles [for a] club so coaching those kids to those state titles was really enjoyable for me.”

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