It used to be that youth sports coaches were almost exclusively concerned with success on the field or court. That has been changing, though, and recently the Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern PA held a workshop in “Double-Goal Coaching”—training youth sports coaches in both winning games and teaching life lessons through sports.

The idea of coaches serving as mentors is an ideal fit with the Mentoring Partnership’s so-called natural mentoring initiative, called Everyday Mentoring. “Natural mentoring is the idea that adults can be more intentionally mentor-like in their relationships with youth who are already in their lives,” says Kristan Allen, the organization’s director of communications. “So we reached out to the Positive Coaching Alliance to bring their Double-Goal Coaching workshop to Pittsburgh, which shares many of the same ideas as our Everyday Mentoring.”

Approximately 50 coaches from 32 groups, including many from Pittsburgh Citiparks youth leagues, attended the free April 10th workshop, which was sponsored by the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, along with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Charlie Batch’s Best Batch Foundation, and the Dignity & Respect Campaign.

The facilitator from Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) focused on strengthening student athletes’ on-field performance, positive attitude, and motivation; building strong relationships with parents and league leaders; and helping youth learn on-field lessons that make a difference in achieving success in their off-field lives.

The three-hour workshop emphasized core principles of the nonprofit PCA, like “Filling emotional tanks,” “Honoring the game,” and coaching for the mastery of sport, rather than just scoreboard results. Each of the participants received certification as a Double-Goal Coach and The Power of Double-Goal Coaching by Jim Thompson, PCA’s founder and CEO.

“The interaction among the local coaches was an important part of the workshop,” Allen says. “They networked with each other, shared stories and strategies, and seemed committed to keeping the conversation going well after the workshop was over.”

Although no date is currently set for the next youth sports mentoring workshop, Allen says the Mentoring Partnership can create workshops as needed. “In our work we always offer workshops that can be customized to a specific group, so youth sports coaches can always contact us to set up training.” Allen says any adults who have regular interaction with children can benefit from being trained in Everyday Mentoring, including teachers, librarians, museum workers, camp counselors, and even aunts and uncles.

As an example of their customized training, the Mentoring Partnership worked with the city of Pittsburgh earlier this year to train 150 crossing guards. “They see the same kids every day, and sometimes it’s just a matter of looking and noticing that Jimmy isn’t smiling like he usually does,” Allen says. “They learn the ways to ask if something’s wrong, or just the value of giving them positive encouragement or saying they hope the child has a great day in school and cheering them on.”

The Mentoring Partnership works with 150 different mentoring programs in the Pittsburgh area, Allen says, providing resources and best practices through their Structured Mentoring and Everyday Mentoring initiatives. “We’re dedicated to making sure that all kids who want or need a mentor have access to one,” Allen says. “The more adults we can equip with this information the happier we will all be, especially the children who benefit from those who take the little bit of extra time to do something special for them.”

To learn more about opportunities for mentoring in our area, visit The Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern PA.

'Burgh-loving Jonathan Wander (Twitter: @jmwander) has written for various publications including Men’s Health, and has gratefully guest-posted on amazing sites like That’s Church.