Coaches represent leadership, mentors, and inspiration. Often, a coach’s words will echo through an athlete’s mind for years to come. During difficult times, the words motivate them forward. Rarely do these coaches even know the impact they’ve had on an athlete until many decades pass.
With Friday, October 6th being National Coaches Day, we thought it only natural to reach out to one of our favorite coaches – Coach Nate!
So tell us, who are you, where did you come from, and what do you do?
My name is Nate Dalena and I am the executive director of CenCal Youth Sports. I am a born and raised Fresno guy and love our tight knit community. The goal of CenCal Youth Sports is to promote Hard work, Integrity, and Trust (HIT!) to the youth of Central California, through our sports and fitness programs. I have been coaching since 2015 and our main programs are Rugby and Youth Empowerment.
Tell us about the organization
Rugby has been in the Central Valley for many years and Rugby for youth and high school players started over a decade ago. Our age ranges vary depending on the program.
We have flag (Non-Contact) Rugby for players aged 4-12 and we have tackle rugby programs for high school students all the way down to U10 players. Rugby is special because of its culture. The game is unique in that it centers around respect. No matter who we are playing, the teams gather together after each game for a social where we share a meal and bond with the other team. Coaches and parents are included in this as well. This unique part of rugby helps us build a community that truly feels like a family.
Tell us about something that you do that makes you stand out
Both of my parents were coaches, so I had the privilege of watching and learning from them as I grew up. Every player that steps into our programs is different. They come from different backgrounds, schools, cultures, etc. It’s our job as coaches to figure out what motivates each individual player so that we can get them to where we need them to get too.
I’ve heard many people say that kids are different these days, and I would have to disagree. I think kids are kids, and if you can figure out what motivates them, you’ll be able to coach them in a way that leads to success. If you have clear standards and goals and you couple that with a level of understanding for players, you’ll be able to figure out who each player is and how you can get them to where they need to be
What is it that most people DON’T know about your organization?
Rugby is still a very niche sport when compared to other sports in Fresno, so I would lean on the fact that there is Youth Rugby and High School Rugby opportunities in the Central Valley for players starting at 4 years old and going up through high school.
Stepping away from rugby though, we also run a program called Youth Empowerment Systems (YES). It’s a character-driven, level-based, youth fitness system. When our programs started running again after the pandemic, I noticed a severe change in many of our returning players. They seemed less confident and a bit lost. We started YES so that the players could gain some confidence back after being on a hiatus from activities for an extended period of time. YES is a program that helps youth develop a growth mindset in a gym setting. The fitness program is built for kids, so its mostly body weight and technique oriented. My favorite part of this it is the goal setting though. We’ve seen a lot of kids understand that if they set goals and then work hard to achieve them, that they can get over many of the obstacles that they think are in the way.
How can our readers help?
We’d love for more players and parents to join our community and give rugby or YES a try. We’re seeing great development from all of our kids and we’re excited for their futures. Our Tackle Rugby season starts in December for U10, U12, Middle School, and High School players. We have other programs running almost every month and all they need to do to reach out is email me or check out our website cencalyouthsports.com. Nate@cencalyouthsports.com.
Anything else you would like our readers to know?
I think its valuable for parents to know about the benefits of the multi-sport athlete. Introducing different movement patterns for kids aged 5-12 is incredibly important for development. I am starting to see a lot of sport specialization much earlier for kids. While they may help short term skills, it can have negative long term effects in regard to body mechanics and mental burn-out. I think there is a lot of value in playing as many sports as possible at a young age and then picking a couple once you get to middle school and high school.
FIND CENCAL YOUTH SPORTS
Coach Nate’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/coachnate_cencal