A Decade of Inspiration

Program Associate Victoria Medrano highlights a trio of Coaches from Daley Academy known as, “The Daley Moms.”

As the years have passed, we have seen how Urban Initiatives has grown remarkably. In that growth, we have gained an abundance of amazing coaches, including this dynamic trio at Daley Academy. Martina G. Arellano, Rosa M. Cervantes, and Maria L. Salazar, have all shown true passion for Urban Initiatives programs at their school. Coach Martina, Coach Rosa, and Coach Maria, all started coaching 10 years ago, when their kids first joined the Work to Play program.

Now that their children have long since graduated from Daley Academy and are now in high school and college, each of these Coaches decided to stay involved at their neighborhood school. When given the opportunity each Coach speaks about the importance of Urban Initiatives not only at their school but also in their community. “Because the kids are not in the street. It’s helping the students become responsible, because if they are not doing well in school, they cannot be in the program.” Coach Rosa states why she thinks the program is important to the Back of the Yards community. At Urban Initiatives, we advocate for our students to excel not only on the field or playground during program sessions, but in the classroom as well. In our Work to Play program, players are scored on a scale of 1-3 weekly to see how they are doing in the classroom, as far as turning in homework, classroom participation, peer respect, and teacher respect.

If students are receiving low scores they sit out for a portion of games/practices, by doing so, we have helped kids attain ownership for their actions outside of practice. Coach Maria talks about how UI has helped the players grow to be more responsible. Along with that responsibility, they have gained the opportunity to not only meet kids in other communities, but travel to other communities, as well. “By meeting other kids in different communities, the program also taught our kids to unite with students from other neighborhoods.” Coach Rosa mentions, “When students start the program they believe it is a competition with other players in different communities, but later learn it’s about meeting new students and making connections.”

Uniting students not only from other schools, but also uniting those students who go to the same school. With the continuation of Urban Initiatives, at Daley and amongst other schools, Coach Martina explains the impact it will have in the Daley community, “Students will be more health conscience, they will be friendlier, and there will be less delinquency. The kids who graduate have learned to get along not only with students they go to school with, but students in other communities across the city. The students apart of our program, set an example for the other kids in our community, this impacts the kids around them to want to better themselves each and every day.”

As Urban Initiatives continues to grow, we hope to continue to inspire our program participants to better themselves and to continue to unite with students across different Chicago communities. We also want to give a special shout out to these three terrific coaches who have continually helped inspire students everyday for the last 10 years. Thank you, Martina, Rosa, and Maria, for being truly committed coaches to every UI student athlete at Daley Academy and at all our partner schools.