Through Summer Coaching, Trinity and Javonn Find out What They’re Made of

June 15, 2023



In the summer of 2022, six youth participants from PeacePlayers Brooklyn got to role reverse and see what it feels like to run in a coach’s shoes. And as youth coaches Trinity (17) and Javonn (21) tell it, it was a game changer of a summer. 


Trinity and Javonn coached PeacePlayers programs as part of the Department of Youth and Community Development’s Summer Employment Program, which places youth around the city with summer jobs. Javonn has been a PeacePlayers Brooklyn fixture since nearly the beginning, while Trinity is a newer recruit. But for both of them, coaching presented a paradigm shift, a sort of mirror reflecting the people they have the power to be. 


For Javonn, it wasn’t his first time coaching, but it was this past summer when Javonn made the decision to fully show up, and that made all the difference.

“Last time, I wasn't really talking as much. I wasn't really doing anything, and not a lot of kids really knew who I was. So I just feel like, if I'm a coach, if I'm going to represent, then I have to make sure that the kids know who I am and make sure they know my voice. So when something happens, they know who to come to instead of just being like, ‘Who is this person?’”


Even though Javonn made that first step, made that decision to be all in, the first two weeks of camp were a struggle. “You know, I’m a reserved person. I don’t really like talking in big crowds like that.”

Javonn, who some in the PeacePlayers family have affectionately called The Voice of Brownsville for his fierce activism against gun violence, had actually gotten used to speaking in front of people. But it was different being around high schoolers. “When it comes to teenagers and all that, you know, they’re in their hormones and sometimes they want to be defiant, so I was kind of nervous of that.”


But Javonn wasn’t alone in overcoming those early struggles. The PeacePlayers Brooklyn team, including Coach Matt, were always on hand to help Javonn believe that he could do it. “They were like, ‘Here’s what you’re gonna do – right here, you’re gonna do the warmup and then you’re gonna work this out, and if you’re confident in other parts, we’ll throw you in too,’ which they ended up doing, which I appreciate a lot. Once those two weeks were done, I realized that these kids are here to learn basketball.”


“Coach Matt pushed me to do a lot of things. Pushed me to get out of my comfort zone, try it out… just giving me chance after chance, and also putting me in positions to strive.”

Trinity also struggled to step up and coach at the beginning. But her power to push through the challenge came from within herself. “I think I struggle with confidence a lot, because I have four siblings, I’m the middle child. So, you know how the middle child is, and I feel like… being talked down on a lot when I was younger, I didn’t really know who I was myself, because I’m hearing just everything from everybody else.” 

“Having to be a leader, I had to tell people what to do, had to be assertive. Be more confident with what I was saying, instead of how I was before. I was more timid. I was more non-confrontational. I would get really clammy, and really super nervous, and I'd overthink everything, every single outcome. But I had to push past that side of me in order to fulfill a role I had.”


And fulfill Trinity did. To the extent that she was even able to help other young players with struggles that until recently had been her own. Trinity recalls one girl in particular. “[She] was a lot,” Trinity confides. But after a while, the girl began to open up. “She revealed to me that she wasn’t as confident with herself… She would act like she was all that, but she was very vulnerable and very insecure about herself.” 


“I let her know that what people think shouldn’t matter to you, especially at such a young age. You know, you have to be yourself. You have to take yourself where you need to go.”


Trinity’s impact on these girls isn’t a coincidence. There’s something about seeing a female coach, who comes from where you come from, who looks like you do. “I think it helps the girls a lot with their confidence, like seeing that there’s a girl doing something that they want to do. It might give them the motivation to get where they want to be, rather than just seeing boys in the media playing basketball.”


A lot of the young leaders in PeacePlayers talk about trying to be the person they needed when they were younger. Trinity and Javonn are leaning into that, but they’re also becoming exactly the people they need right now.

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