America SCORES Milwaukee/Milwaukee Bucks

Sharing the science behind Trauma-Informed Coaching

2017 On the Table MKE Focus: Healing, holistic coaching practices for youth in Milwaukee
2018 On the Table MKE Goal:  “Announcing our progress since 2017; Hearing what other On the Table groups are doing one year later.”

A conversation with Kate Carpenter, Executive Director of America SCORES Milwaukee, and Alicia Dupies, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Kate: “I thought On the Table was a great idea, but I wondered how America SCORES could bring people to the table to talk about Sports Based Youth Development. If we were going to do this, I knew we’d need a strong, connected partner.”

Alicia: “I knew if we had the right people there and could prove a theory of change, then there might be an opportunity to keep a dialogue going about Sports Based Youth Development.”

Kate: “At SCORES, historically we’ve downplayed the idea that we use sports to help kids learn and achieve. We describe our work as ‘A combination of literacy and service learning, oh, and we also do soccer.’ We knew that partnering with the Bucks could bring our concept of teaching kids life and work skills through sports to a wider audience.”

Alicia: “We were bringing people together to understand the power of sports as a healing tool for kids with significantly high Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) scores. Our invite list was an eclectic, intentional cross section of leaders and coaches, people from health and public health backgrounds, civic leaders and business leaders with a desire to lift Milwaukee.” 

Kate: “We wanted business leaders to leave the event understanding that sports teach skills kids can use in the workplace, but also that sport participation can help youth heal from the effects of trauma.”

Alicia: “David Flynn [of From the Roots and We Coach] was our facilitator. He showed brain scans of children before and after sports activities. People understood ‘This is a real thing; this is scientific.’ After coaches in the room saw the science, David shared very simple strategies and role played different ways a child could receive coaching. If we don’t understand everything a child has in their ACE suitcase, the wrong coaching style can trigger a negative response. It can hinder their mental and physical health.”

Kate: “There was a palpable moment when it seemed like everyone in the room was like ‘Wow, we get it – how sports and collective action can be a vehicle for important work in Milwaukee.’ The vibe in the room shifted.”

Alicia: “People told us: ‘We need more of this.’

Kate: “It was not what we had intended! Weeks later, we were still getting emails from people who wanted to be involved. We were left with a huge feeling of responsibility that we had started something that needed to continue.”

Alicia: “We sent five youth coaches to the Memphis Grizzlies, a peer team of the Bucks that has been actively involved in Sports Based Youth Development through a trainer named Megan Bartlett. We held a Trauma-Informed coaching training for 120 coaches in Milwaukee in December/January. We’re partnering with David Flynn and Megan Bartlett to develop a strategic plan. We’re talking with the Philly Youth Sports Collaborative and the Aspen Institute Project Play.”

Kate: “That first event really rallied a group of folks who have been working hard since On the Table to create the format and next steps that can support this concept citywide.”

Alicia: “We now have a steering group that checks in weekly. We’re learning valuable lessons from other cities and collaboratives. There is a real need for this. On the Table opened the door to realizing that need. We would love to have other leaders come help us bring the vision of a formal Milwaukee sport alliance to life in the next 12-24 months.”