The crowd roars for the football team running onto the field, the band gears up for the fight song as the ball soars through the end zone, and behind the scenes, coaches and volunteers such as Davy Mize, territory sales manager for Monsanto and volunteer high school football coach, have also been preparing all week for the big game. These volunteers are the role models and leaders of the team, band, and students.
“I’ve had a lot of volunteer assistant coaches, and I don’t think a volunteer coach could be any better,” says Tensas Academy Head Coach Joe Coates. “He’s committed, knowledgeable, and the kids love him. He’s a quality Christian leader and role model, and a great balance to my rougher coaching tactics.”
When Mize moved home to Saint Joseph, La., after playing defensive end for the Delta State Statesmen football team, he was encouraged by friends to coach their kids at Tensas Academy. Although he has coached most grade levels, Mize currently is the high school assistant coach for both offensive and defensive lines. He says he enjoys coaching the older kids because they take the game more seriously and have a stronger desire to play hard and win.
“The most important aspect of being a good coach is to earn the players’ trust, and keep it, so they will learn from what you are trying to coach,” says Mize.
According to the Kid’s Count Data Center provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, children who are mentored are 52 percent less likely to skip class than those without an adult role model and 46 percent less likely to start using illegal drugs. Mentors are important to help build communication skills in students, set career goals and gain self esteem. 73 percent of mentored students were noted to have an improved relationship with their family, and 96 percent of mentees say they would like to continue having a mentor, according to Americorps Connecting Generations. The statistics of mentored students are consistently positive, and it is easy to see why volunteers such as Mize continue to dedicate their time to students.
As the conference season gets started with five wins under the Chief’s belt, Mize thinks this could be one of their best seasons yet. “If I could give the players one piece of advice, it would be to always give 100 percent, in whatever you’re doing,” Mize says. “If you are going to start something and want to see it through, be ready to give what you need to give to be successful.”
Mize got involved with the academy eight seasons ago, and is committed to community involvement with the 4-H Junior Livestock Team and his church, as well. Mize knows that in a small community such as Saint Joseph, volunteer opportunities are limited, but he encourages his neighbors to get involved with something they are interested in and stick with it.
Photograph: Tensas Academy, St. Joseph, La.