LOS ANGELES (KABC) — If you’re learning how to coach football for the first time, it’s pretty unusual to start your training inside one of the country’s premier venues. Well, that’s what’s happening for some military veterans and their families.
“I’m just at a loss of words, it’s an excitement in being here, being an inner city kid, a younger man, getting a chance experience this, I’m just at a loss of words,” said Navy Aviation maintenance administrationman Mikal Bradley, whose participating in the program.
Nearly 30 veterans recently received hands-on training at SoFi Stadium.
“We educate, develop and certify veterans, military spouses, transitioning service members and Gold Star families to become character-based coaches in sports and then we provide pathways for them into their community to coach at the youth high school and even collegiate and pro levels,” said Soldiers to Sidelines Founder Harrison Bernstein.
Veterans told Eyewitness News they’re walking away with valuable experience and lessons
“Actually being reminded of the little things that you forget as your coaching or as being a leader or speaking up,” said aviation life support system technician Willie Martinez III. “You come in and they’re reaching you the nuisances of football, the nuisances of dealing with young minds or older minds that are stuck in their way. You can be active and help them get to the next level or just help them cope to stay active or to get back into the community and help others.”
Soldiers to Sidelines aims to help veterans by creating a community and improving their mental well-being as well improving quality of coaching.
“Military service and coaching are incredibly linked,” said James Herrera with the Wounded Warriors Project. “When they’re out there on the battlefield, serving one another, watching their brothers and sisters to their left and their right, they’re developing those incredible leadership skills to translate to coaching and mentioning our nation’s youth and sport.”
Those 30 vets left SoFi Stadium with on-the-field football coaching training and the certification they need to be the best coaches they can be.