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On The Whistle Podcast | Penance to Mission: Shaping the New Face of Service

January 12, 2021

Gary Goldberg

It all started at a keg party on the Georgetown campus. Paul Caccamo and scores of his friends were celebrating his graduation until the police showed up. In a turn of events worthy of Les Mis, a passing Jesuit priest convinced them to let Paul go provided he performed an appropriate penance. A letter soon arrived inviting Paul to help at a Catholic school in the Marshall Islands. There, what started as a year of penance launched the mission of a lifetime.

Paul, who now serves as executive director at Up2Us Sports, sat down with me for this episode of the On the Whistle podcast. He and I discussed:

  • The new faces of community and national service
  • Racial inclusion and gender bias in youth sports
  • Trauma-informed coaching in an age of COVID

 

Listen now

 

 

Full Transcript

Gary Goldberg:

Hey guys, Gary here. Before we get to the show today, I wanted to highlight our sponsor, Sports Engine. Sports Engine is dedicated to making the life of a youth sports volunteer easier. Through their applications, people are able to save time on administrative tasks, allowing them more time to focus on developing their athletes.

Gary Goldberg:

More than a million teams, leagues and clubs use Sports Engine every day to run their websites, promote their programs and to collect sign-ups. They also offer an easy solution for getting uniforms delivered directly to their athletes' homes. It's called Sports Engine Gear, and you can check it out at sportsengine.com/gear to get started. Great. Now, onto our show.

Announcer:

You're listening to On The Whistle, the podcast that explores the impact that coaches, teachers and mentors from youth sports organizations and schools have on young people's lives. Let's get into the show.

Gary Goldberg:

Hey everybody, welcome. Super excited to have you here today. This is another episode of On The Whistle. And I'm excited to introduce our guest today, Paul Caccamo. An Italian guy from Long Island, at least his mom is from Long Island.

Gary Goldberg:

And Paul is the founder of a really cool organization called Up2Us Sports. U P, the number two, Us.org is their website. Paul's a 25 year veteran of the nonprofit sector. And one of the founders of the sports-based youth development movement. This is a very, very bright guy. And from what I can tell, highly intellectual. Did his undergraduate work at Georgetown, got a graduate degree at Harvard, as they say, where I'm from. And is the recipient of a prestigious graduate award for the innovation and design of social service programs. And so we're really interested in talking to Paul today, as On The Whistle continues the exploration of the relationship between mentorship, coaching, teaching, and the fabric of youth, throughout our communities.

Gary Goldberg:

So Paul, welcome to On The Whistle. Super excited to have you here today.

Paul Caccamo:

Thanks, Gary. My mom is from South Philadelphia. I'm from Long Island.

Gary Goldberg:

Oh, interesting. Yeah. Well, that's a strong identity, Philadelphia. My daughter's a freshman at Drexel, so we're learning all about it.

Paul Caccamo:

Yeah.

Gary Goldberg:

So Paul, a little bit about the early time, before we get into the current time. We were joking a little bit, before the show. We're both... I don't hide it, I'm 51. You look around my age, we don't need your exact number. But, this is, obviously, somewhere further into your journey. Where did the journey begin in terms of understanding that you wanted to take on a life of, in essence, service leadership? It's clear to me, that you've invested in this idea of trying to help, bring along the benefit of coaching throughout communities. So, when did that become your awakening or a destination, with what you wanted to do with yourself?

Paul Caccamo:

Sure, Gary. It's a little bit of a long story. So I'll give you some highlights. And I am in my mid fifties now, so get ready for a bunch of aches and pains that we didn't realize existed in the forties and thirties.

Gary Goldberg:

Paul, you don't look a day over 49.

Paul Caccamo:

Thanks. But, first of all, I think there's always a bit of service in all of us, that we get involved at certain points in our childhood and adolescence and projects that are about community service and reaching out to others. And I was always involved in those. But, I think the real turning point for me was, when I was graduating, actually from undergrad. Which yes, you mentioned it was Georgetown. It was a Jesuit University and I, believe it or not, I had this massive party and the Jesuits were actually having meetings about their missions around the world. And during my party, the beverage was not tea and coffee. There was literally a thousand students ready to graduate on the lawn. And it caused such a ruckus that when the police arrived, they looked for who was running the party.

Paul Caccamo:

And all of a sudden there wasn't a thousand people on the lawn. That was basically me, trying to pump the keg, for the next party goer, and there was four cops around me. And so, I was telling the police, "I'm graduating. There's no reason to make a big deal of this."

Paul Caccamo:

And I realized they weren't listening. So I decided to appeal to anyone in earshot, who might have black cloth and a white collar on. And, a Jesuit priest was going by. And I said, "Father, Father, they're trying to arrest me. I'm graduating." And he... I remember he must've been like 90 and he looked... I really have to scream to get his attention, we'll put it that way. And he did walk over to the police and he said, "Why don't we forgive them?" Like very Jesuit, genteel. "Lets forgive this young man."

Paul Caccamo:

And then I was like, "Wow, that was so easy." And then I turned to walk away, and he said, "Young man, wait one moment." And he asked me, he said, "Give me your name and number and I'll find a place for you to do penance somewhere." And I was like, "Huh."

Paul Caccamo:

And so, I ended up getting a letter from a priest in the Pacific Islands, who was running a school for kids. And he had been there since World War II, the country is The Marshall Islands. The Marshalls are quite unknown, but they'd gotten some attention because their land atolls, that have been disappearing in the ocean, with the rising ocean the last 10 years.

Paul Caccamo:

So I lived in a very, very flat partial of land, in The Marshalls. And, people conjure up palm trees and exotic pacific life, but in fact, it was all shacks and it was one of the most densely populated ghettos in the world. With tremendous issues of alcoholism. And, there wasn't educational opportunity for kids. So, there was a lot of depression, anxiety and even teen suicide.

Gary Goldberg:

Hmm.

Paul Caccamo:

And, it was a lot to suddenly be a part of. And...

Gary Goldberg:

It's a big price to pay for a simple keg party.

Paul Caccamo:

I've thought that, ever since. In a nutshell, Gary, I couldn't turn down that experience, even though I never thought I would end up doing a life of nonprofit and community service type work. But, it was just... When life throws something so strange, such a twist, you either have a choice to go the straight and narrow, or take the twisted path.

Paul Caccamo:

And, in this case it was go and help a very elderly priest, run their school. And I did. And over the course of that year, I learned a lot. Most importantly, that I wasn't prepared for the kind of issues that this community faced, the Marshallese.

Paul Caccamo:

But, we're all human. And they brought me into their world, just as much as I brought some resources and education and teaching skills to theirs. I learned that kids were really isolated in this island. And that, that isolation created a lot of stress for them. They were able to watch, at the time it was videos of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rambo movies. But, they weren't a part of that world. They were a part of a world of shacks and poverty.

Paul Caccamo:

I realized that education was everything. Because, if we could teach kids to get past an eighth grade education, which is where they maxed out, at the schools, we can get them to high school. And if they could get to high school, maybe they could go to college in Hawaii or Guam. And, maybe come back and help their family get to a different position.

Paul Caccamo:

So it was those kinds of lessons where I... And probably the most fundamental one, which is why did I not have those challenges in my own life? And yet people for no other reason than where they're born, experienced these challenges. That's when I said, "I don't know that I'm even thinking that I have a choice, but I have to do something about it."

Paul Caccamo:

And, I spent the next 20 years in nonprofits and community service. And I just want to point out one thing, that coming back to the US and working in cities like New York and Boston and Washington DC, where I really first started doing youth development and community organizing. The issues of kids, down the street in Rocksbury, in Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn, in Anacostia in DC; in many ways are the same. They're isolated, they don't know how to access all that stuff, that's downtown. Then that stuff doesn't seem like it's for them, so it's just a bunch of images.

Paul Caccamo:

And there's depression, there's anxiety. There's a sense of not belonging or being a part. And we see the same exact issue, where... How do we solve that? And, you don't have to go 12,000 miles around the world, to see how important it is to help. How much the kids are being isolated and how that's affecting their mental health. You can go down the street, from whatever city you're living in and see the same kind of experiences, that children are facing. And that's what my mission became through, first through education. But for the last 20 years, through sports.

Gary Goldberg:

It's a great background and a really fascinating story. A modern term for what you're describing is called structural inequality. And, people always say, "Well, what does that mean? People have access to a lot of stuff, don't they?" But depending on what zip code you're born into, you may or may not have access to the same resources, whether it's capital, nutrition, education, housing, employment opportunities, strictly by the zip code you're born into. And I think that Marshall Island example is a stark one, right?

Paul Caccamo:

Yeah.

Gary Goldberg:

Because, you can imagine all of these limitations; one, physically, cause you're on an island, right? And then you don't resource it properly. And then you have all these stresses. So, it's a fascinating story. And then the parallel to that and the other local communities that you described in this, it's really enlightening.

Gary Goldberg:

I'm going to read a quote, it says... One of the articles of content that you put onto Huffington Post is, "The new faces of national service are those men and women holding baseballs, soccer balls, tennis rackets, golf clubs, and badminton rackets. Yes, the new faces of service are our 400 Up2Us Sports coaches and the four million other volunteer youth sport coaches, who pick up their whistle, this afternoon and help your kids, be part of a team."

Gary Goldberg:

Now, I was so shocked when I read that quote, because it is directly in parallel to the ethos and mission statement of our company, SquadLocker. But also, the spirit of On The Whistle, which is the appreciation and exploration of the impact that coaches and mentors and leaders have, on their community by supporting kids. Talk to me a little bit about this quote and how that sensibility became Up2Us Sports.

Paul Caccamo:

Thanks. And it's really relevant today, because certainly, when you look at the crisises we're facing today, service is definitely in the frontline, the workers. The frontline workers in healthcare, people delivering food and meals right now, when families are isolated. People helping families who may be facing eviction or homelessness. That's what service looks like, right now.

Paul Caccamo:

But, there's an undercurrent of service. And that is, there are a lot of kids out there, today, just as there was when I wrote that quote, which was before COVID, who... They're experiencing, whether it's anxiety about school, anxiety about exposure to violence, anxiety about something going on at home. And today, anxiety about COVID, about what's happened to the world around them, about intergenerational racism, that kids... They are experiencing various degrees of mental health challenges.

Gary Goldberg:

Wait a minute, Paul, are you saying that X's and O's solve that?

Paul Caccamo:

I'm saying...

Gary Goldberg:

Because, I want to make the same correlation and I think X's, and O's are a format to influence the kids, while they're making those feelings. But I'd love to know tactically, how Up2Us Sports does that and the methodologies behind it. Because I get the, "Hey I'm in a bad place and I'm a child and I may or may not have a good relationship with my parents. So as mentor, coach leader, teacher comes in and pays attention to me, my self worth goes up. My opportunity for outlet about my own personal emotions or needs, has an opening and a place. And therefore I grow as a kid." Right?

Paul Caccamo:

Yes.

Gary Goldberg:

That's really what you're after. That's, your mission. And so, tell me a little bit about Up2Us Sports. What's the format of it? How do you do that? Right?

Paul Caccamo:

Sure. So, let me finish that last thing and by just saying, when we look at, even today, what is national service? What is community service? There is that frontline, the worker, but then there is this other secondary response, to criseses like today. And that is the response of the mental health of these children and the question you just asked, which I'll get to.

Paul Caccamo:

And who is at the frontline of that? Well, that's who children will talk to, when they are experiencing stress. They may not always be a parent. Our parent may not be available and it may not be a teacher, or a counselor. But when there's a coach, we know that kids often will turn to a coach. They often trust coaches. For no other reason than, "That's my basketball coach. That's my soccer coach."

Paul Caccamo:

Sometimes they may not even be qualified to gain that trust. They may not be a great coach, which is something that Up2Us is trying to train coaches on, the skills to be a great coach and to deserve that trust. But they will get the ear of children in ways that other adults don't. And so that is a major secondary response to healing our country today. And it has always been there, in communities, for all the challenges that kids have faced. And that's why I say that, national service isn't just healthcare workers. It isn't just emergency service response folks. It's coaches. They are there to help the mental health of our children and our communities. They're there to make kids belong. And that's one of the fabrics that makes community great, that makes a country great. And that's what national service is. And that's what Up2Us Sports coaches are.

Paul Caccamo:

So, to your question about the X's and O's, it's not just that a coach is there, but when a coach is trained to use sports, in the way that sports can uniquely address mental health. For example, getting every kid during a practice to actually exercise and move, that is a benefit that neurologically makes the brain feel healthier. It actually grows parts of the brains and connections. Setting up practices in a way that kids belong, in the way that they build relationships. Even with the kid on the team who, they maybe don't necessarily gravitate towards, maybe because they're not the most skillful, maybe they're not the same classes or have the same interests outside of the team.

Paul Caccamo:

Well, when you start to create an atmosphere, in which a team builds positive relationships among kids; that is mental health. That's how kids start to build a sense of social confidence, that they belong. When you create rituals and like what your company represents in terms of team identity and logos and uniforms, and a sense of ritual. This is how we do it here. These are the rules here. This is what we wear, what we look like, what emblimizes us. That buffers kids from some negative [inaudible 00:16:23], that could be more challenging to their long-term mental and physical and social health.

Gary Goldberg:

That's actually fascinating. Just the idea that the logo has some sort of benefit or preventative measure to it. It's like a shield, if you will. That's really interesting. I've never thought of it that way.

Paul Caccamo:

And so, every single piece of sports, if you break it into it's design, that we sometimes have just taken for granted. But, we can't take it for granted, especially today with COVID and with the rise of the racial consciousness in America. And how much it is impacting so many of our black and brown kids, in their communities.

Paul Caccamo:

We can't take for conscious that these things will just happen, if a kid plays sports. We have to train our coaches and even our teams and leagues on how to take advantage of these components and really create the maximum output in terms of a kid's health and wellness. And it's not difficult. It's actually fun, the training. Because, it's sports and at the end of the day, if you make sports boring or unexciting or training too methodological; well then, who is the coach?

Paul Caccamo:

So we got to make it fun. We got to make it as active as the game. And so, that brings us to Up2Us Sports and what we do. We started with the idea... During my journey, from the Marshall Islands to today, was a lot of figuring out this issue of wellness among kids. And what I realized that kids did look up to coaches. And specifically, in Washington DC, I met a woman who was a teacher who was having challenges, getting her kids academically focused. And then, one day, she started a soccer team, really whimsically. Only because, she brought a soccer ball, because she herself was on a league, into the classroom and all the girls were like, "What's that?" And she explains soccer to them and they said, "Can we play? Can you teach us?"

Paul Caccamo:

Next thing she knew, she was a coach. And next thing she knew, she had an entirely different relationship with those kids.

Gary Goldberg:

Mm.

Paul Caccamo:

That the girls in her class trusted her, like no other adult. And she used that responsibility to say, "Now we're going to take the kind of strategies we are using in soccer, the teamwork we're building here. And we're going to bring that back into our community and our school life. What are our strategies for graduating? What are our strategies for handling, dating boys?"

Paul Caccamo:

[inaudible 00:18:45]. And she really translated life skills from sports, to life skills in teenage girls. And that's when I entered the sports world; is I met her and I was fascinated. This is how you address wellness. And this is how you use sports to address academics, how you use it to address girl confidence. There were just so many things that opened when I met this teacher. And I said, "I'm going to get involved in organizing sports around these outcomes."

Paul Caccamo:

Today, 10 years ago, I met commissioner Tagliabue and it was 11 years ago or so, just when he was retiring, and asked for help to start another nonprofit. And that's Up2Us Sports. And the idea was, there are all these sports programs that are working in some of the most challenging socioeconomic, urban areas in this country. Where the communities are facing and the kids are facing exposure to violence and poverty and overcrowded schools. And a lot of these programs have the challenge of coaches. How do we have consistent coaching in these communities, because it's not the same as suburban sports.

Paul Caccamo:

In suburban sports, usually, there's a parent available, somewhere in the team, who has a job, where they can take a few hours off and coach. But, go to a low-income urban or rural area and there may not be the economic wherewithal to take off of work. There may be a single parent, there may be a grandparent raising kids. So who's going to coach?

Paul Caccamo:

And so, the idea that I had was, "Why don't we go to programs, that the federal government has been sponsoring around other kinds of national service. You may have heard of some of them, Teach for America,[inaudible 00:20:42]. Why don't we create the sports' version of that, for coaching? Because, for all the reasons we've been saying, Gary. It's not about coaching. It's about health and wellness for kids.

Paul Caccamo:

So the federal government, AmeriCorps is the name of the program, responded. And we built out a national effort to recruit, train, and support coaches in communities that had the challenge of getting consistent coaches to grow sports and make sports available to local youth. And there was one major difference that I realized. And it's partly a reflection of my own experience was... Going back to the Marshall Islands, I knew after I helped develop a school, teach the teachers, I taught, myself, over 150 kids during that year, every single day. I knew that when I was leaving, I was leaving. And I wasn't going to be living in the Marshall Islands, the rest of my life.

Paul Caccamo:

And I thought something's got to change, in terms of how we do community organizing and national service. The old models of, "I'm going to spend a year in this community, helping with this particular service. But it's not my community and I'm going to leave." It doesn't work, I don't think, in terms of creating sustainable change.

Paul Caccamo:

So, let's recruit coaches from the same community that we want to serve. And let's not only get more kids the access to play sports, but let's get more young adults the chance to realize that their love of sport makes them a coach. And, that their ability to serve their community as a coach ,makes them a leader. And as a leader, they themselves have a whole pathway in front of them that is about community change, community empowerment. About, "What do you want to do, coach, in your own future, now that you realize what kind of a positive influence you can be?"

Paul Caccamo:

So, our program has become as much about serving as many kids and leveling the playing field for sports in urban America, as it is about elevating the role of coach as community leader.

Gary Goldberg:

There's a couple pieces of your website content that I want to break down, get a better understanding of why you've approached things this way. There is a section on racial inclusion, a piece about including black and brown kids in your programs. There's a piece about gender bias, which is she-coach, I think is the title of it.

Gary Goldberg:

So, it's clear to me that you're thinking about your program to solve these cultural inequalities. How do you do that and balance the fact that there's a lot of white boys that need help too, right? So how do you balance the treatment of the society's topics or stresses, but also keep the program unbiased or open to everybody? So, how do you argue the point, "Hey, by doing that, I'm not giving up on this."

Paul Caccamo:

So, the shortest answer is geography. But I do want to... And I'll get back to geography in a second. Somatically, we're trying to create the concepts of how sports itself can be a methodology for mental, physical, and social health. That is universal.

Gary Goldberg:

That's your foundation.

Paul Caccamo:

Yes. And I often say that there is no doubt that, if I had the resources and if there are listeners, out there, who are in middle-class, upper middle-class, wealthy communities... There are kids who are experiencing stress and anxiety, especially this year. All kids are experiencing some level of it. But even without a COVID, there are kids who experienced this; there's something going on at home, there's a exposure to a dating issue or a bullying issue. So, that's universal.

Paul Caccamo:

And what I'm trying to learn and decipher is exactly how do we get intentional, with how we practice coaching sports, to address those issues. And it can be addressed from the most wealthy community to the poorest community. It's the same methodology. Every coach should go through our training, every single coach.

Gary Goldberg:

What does your coach learn, if they go through your training?

Paul Caccamo:

They learn that, don't take it for granted, when you get out there and blow the whistle. When you say team up, pair up... That's a moment to say, "Hey, there's a different way of getting kids to pair up. There's a different way of when we start practice, maybe we should sit down and spend some team talk. Just as a coach, letting kids in a circle. We're just going to talk about what happened in school today. Who wants to start?" That little things like this, which coaches rush over to get to the athletic skill building... They're critical and you as the coach, maybe the only one who gives a kid that experience to feel safe and comfort and to express things like that.

Paul Caccamo:

So what do they learn? They learn everything from, how do you build relationships among the team? How do you build relationships, as a coach, to the team? How do you observe behavior? Because coaches see things, that maybe other adults don't see. And how then, in terms of behavior... And now we're getting into trauma. How does the brain work and how does a child's brain develop. And why is sports so critical to a healthy brain development, in children? And what do you, as a coach, now that you know... And again, we don't want to make this boring. No, one's signed up to be a social worker or a psychologist. They signed up to coach, but every one of our coaches is fascinated when they learned a little bit about how the brain works and how much the idea of physical activity, of life skills, of relationship building, how it lights up parts of the brain in a child. You can literally see it. And how much, when those things are applied in sports, you see a brain light up, more than many other activities.

Paul Caccamo:

And then a coach is like, "Wow, I could light brains up, just by doing a few extra things." And, that's why we teach about the brain. And that's why we teach our coaches about... And we will get to trauma. Probably in a little bit about trauma.

Paul Caccamo:

But then, we conclude with, how do you then use this in the context of the community you are working in. And, whether you're coaching in, again, a wealthy community or a poor community, how do you use what we've just learned, to what are the challenges that kids face in this community? What are the languages, the religions, the economic situation. And, how as a coach, can you be sensitive to that to say, now I understand my role in making kids feel they belong and this team is going to be their buffer from, whether it's negative issues like alcoholism or issues like virus. This team is going to be the buffer for these kids, because I want everyone of these kids to be great athletes, but I also want every one of these kids to succeed and go to college and have great lives.

Paul Caccamo:

Coaches do that. So, that's the training in a nutshell, there's very specific pieces to get to all of that, but we took about 10... It took us six, seven, eight years developing it. And we're still developing it.

Paul Caccamo:

And the question that you originally had about why are we particularly focused in black and brown communities is, I started this program in an urban America. And I started it for addressing the fact that kids in low-income, urban areas have dramatically less access to sports, than kids in wealthier areas. And you can just look at the numbers, a kid growing up in, we could say like a Roxbury in Boston, West Inglewood in Chicago, Liberty City in Miami. If you go to low income areas that are predominantly black and brown, there's just less of an opportunity to play sports. And as someone who has spent my entire life in urban America, that's where we focused. Is, let's level the sports playing field, while we're learning all these lessons, about empowering and training coaches.

Paul Caccamo:

Now, those lessons translate to coaches, in every single community in this country and probably the world, but we're practicing it in the communities that are around me, in our urban communities across this country. And I hope, someday that I can get resources to place coaches in rural communities too, because there's a lot of... My goal as a nonprofit, is to make sports available to kids in under-resourced communities. Those aren't all... As you suggested, they're not all urban, they're not all black and brown. So with resources someday, we'll have coaches in under-resourced rural communities as well.

Gary Goldberg:

So it's, U P, the number two, US. Up2Us.org, and I know there is a donate now section on your website. So if you're listening to this episode and you're feeling inspired and you want to provide resources to this organization, obviously, visit the website and get in touch.

Gary Goldberg:

Paul, you use a phrase called trauma sensitive. And I haven't heard that in coaching. What is trauma sensitive and why does it matter?

Paul Caccamo:

So, first of all, it's a heavy word for coaching, I think.

Gary Goldberg:

It sounds heavy.

Paul Caccamo:

Yeah. And...

Gary Goldberg:

You might want to rebrand it.

Paul Caccamo:

And it's...

Gary Goldberg:

Are you talking about kids who have had... Like a kid who has been abused, a kid who has been abandoned? Is that the type of trauma? Are you talking about trauma like, "I got in a car accident. I broke my arm."

Paul Caccamo:

Yeah.

Gary Goldberg:

What type of trauma?

Paul Caccamo:

So, I am talking about mental health. The reason I hesitate and nod a little is, I want to be sure that your listeners, especially coaches, out there, understand that don't be scared of this term. In a nutshell, it is when a kid experiences stress and I again take it from the communities that I work in, every day. When a kid, in this neighborhood, in North Lawndale, Chicago has experienced violence and sees maybe an episode of violence, once or twice a week. That, this causes stress and that the child, and this goes back into our training with the brain. Their brain starts to react to the fact that, "Wow, it's a dangerous world out there."

Paul Caccamo:

Now it could be violence. It could be bullying in a school. It could be something emotionally abusive, either at home or in some other venue, in the community. But a kid starts to respond to that, inside. Whether or not they are conscious of their response or not, their brain does, because we all protect ourselves. And so a child, once they start down that path, of seeing a stress and start to have that stress response of, "I'm going to protect myself", it starts to slow down certain parts of the brain, that are otherwise out there to make friends, to learn more, to set goals in life. So, you have a child where their brain's shutting down, because of these episodes. And yet, we know anyone was going to be successful in this world...

Gary Goldberg:

Got to have those sections turned on. You have to use them in order to grow.

Paul Caccamo:

So the definition of that breaking down and shutting down, is trauma. And when we say trauma informed coaching, go back to what we described earlier. A coach can light up a kid more than anyone else, in many ways. And so, when we say trauma informed coaching, it's, "Hey, coaches. Not every one of you are going to experience kids who have these levels of trauma, but you might. And so, by understanding what trauma is and how it shuts down the brain. And by understanding how you, in getting kids active, in building relationships and being there as a positive adult role model, you are reopening that brain in a way that a teacher can't even do. So, be trauma informed, have that in your toolbox."

Paul Caccamo:

And in the case of our coaches, who I support at Up2Us Sports, every day, they have to use that trauma informed coaching, almost every day. Because, the kids they're working with, do in fact experience this, all the time. But I have so many coaches, who've come up to me from other communities and said, "I had a kid who left my team, because she felt she was not attractive enough to play in the sports team." Or "He finally told me that, something was going on at home and his parents were alcoholics and he was not doing well with it. Why not have a trauma informed coaching class, so that you could be the person to literally save those two kids."

Gary Goldberg:

Yeah, unlock the potential for them. Paul, one of the questions that I like to ask all of our guests, and this may be related to you. You may want to answer this personally, and you may want to answer this on behalf of the coaches or the kids in your program. But, having played a lot of games and been to a lot of tournaments, I'm curious, what do you think has gained more from, the wins or the losses. And for those who can't see Paul, right now, he's starting to smile and I'm seeing him going into a deep thought pattern.

Paul Caccamo:

Yeah. I've never been asked that question, which is... That's what a thought pattern has suddenly...

Gary Goldberg:

That's what we like to do, we like to challenge our guests to do some deep thinking.

Paul Caccamo:

I almost think the more popular answer and the one that I actually have to pick is the losses. And it's because, both, for me, and also for the coaches and kids I serve. Two different examples in very different ways.

Paul Caccamo:

For the coaches and kids I serve, the losses teach resilience. And resilience is incredibly important, right now. It has always been important in low-income black and brown communities, where there has been a lot of odds against kids, in terms of availability of equal resources and education and healthcare. So, being resilient is critical and you really learn resilience from loss.

Paul Caccamo:

And I would say in very similar way that, my own losses. I just look at yesterday. Obviously, I do a lot to try and raise money, to get as many coaches on the ground as possible. And every time a foundation, I had a big one yesterday. They say, "No, we're not going to fund that." That's a loss to me. And I think of resilience and how much I've learned.

Paul Caccamo:

So what do I do? I was, "No! No!" Having my fit, because I really wanted that grant. And then the resilience sets in, which you learn from the losses in your life. And you say, "You know what, I'm going to find that money somewhere else." And we've got to keep doing that. "I'm going to bounce back." And you don't get that from winning, you get that for loss.

Gary Goldberg:

Paul, you are an absolute inspiration. And Up2Us.org, Up2Us Sports is clearly something that our listeners should pay close attention to and visit your website, read your content on Huffington Post, huffpost.com and learn from you. And the service that you're doing and the service that you're supporting more broadly, can only make our world a better place. I'm certainly grateful to have met you. And thanks so much for joining us today.

Paul Caccamo:

Thanks a lot.

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