Academic sports coaches help Meriden students reach their goals – NBC Connecticut


On Thursday, Maloney beat Platt at the Stoddard Bowl as the town of Meriden gathered for the Thanksgiving tradition. These same athletes are also working hard to make their dreams come true.

“My end goal is the NFL,” said Antwone Santiago, senior at Platt.

“Try to major in law or business somewhere,” added Rashawn Shelton, senior at Maloney.

“Play college football to the next level and get my engineering or computer science degree and just give back to my community,” said Michael Reddick, senior at Maloney.

A new program at Meriden is making sure athletes have all the resources they need to achieve these goals.

“On a day-to-day basis, I am there to support them no matter what they need, whether it is in class, advice, in sport, I am there to support them,” said Creme Watford, academic athletic coach of Platt.

Platt and Maloney each have college athletic coaches for the first time this year. This is a new position that is part of a grant from the Athlife Foundation, which works to ensure that deserving children from the most difficult but promising communities in our country, can achieve in their future career beyond sport.

“They are students first before they are athletes, so I want to make sure they do well in the classroom because it’s the most important thing in life for me,” said Scott Dargan, the Maloney’s academic athletic trainer.

In addition to monitoring grades, coaches set up pre-practice study rooms, help with college prep, recruit visits, and help organize community service opportunities.

“If I feel like I’m having a hard time I know I can go to him and he will help me with whatever I need,” said Platt junior Avery Robinson.

“It’s really good because you’re not in yourself,” Shelton added. “You have someone trying to help you and do all of these things for you too, so you have someone to lean on.”

“Our students will not listen to academic coaches if they don’t feel they have a relationship with them, understand where they are coming from and understand why they are pushing them,” said the deputy superintendent of Meriden public schools, Louis Bronk. .

Watford and Dargan are uniquely qualified for this role. The Meriden natives played football together at Platt High School and became teammates at Nichols College.

“I had the same coaches as them, a lot of the same teachers,” Watford said. “I’m happy that I can be a helping hand and someone they can look up to and try to do the right thing.”

“At the end of the day, we’re all just kids from Meriden, Connecticut,” Dargan said. “I want to see these kids grow up and do great things. I want to see them do better than what I’ve done.”

It helps to have a best friend to support you in these new positions, which is exactly what old college roommates have in each other.

“Whenever I need advice or things happen here I call or text him and we kind of help each other out and that goes hand in hand,” Watford said.

“He’s a brother, whenever life gets a little tough for me I always contact him and the same for him,” Dargan said.

Their bond and success on and off the field inspires the next generation of athletes in Maloney and Platt.

“It helps to know that this is possible on the part of someone who has already experienced it in the same field and the same lifestyle that we have now,” said Reddick.

“I really like the way they support me,” added Santiago. “I’m also working a lot on my self-discipline and I’m preparing for what it’s going to be like in college.”

They might be rivals on the pitch, but the Spartans and Panthers are teammates in life, all striving to be better and make their city proud.

“Whether they go to Platt or Maloney, we want every child to be successful,” said Maloney head football coach Kevin Frederick.

“Same city, same kids,” Platt head football coach Jason Bruenn said. “They all need help. Everyone needs help.”

“This is what it is about, a good education system is not only about studies or sport, it is about developing young men and women”, said Dr Miguel Cardona, secretary American Education, who grew up in Meriden.

The AthLife Foundation grant covers the new post in both high schools for three years. College athletic coaches hope to continue to build relationships and make a positive impact in their community.


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