Before Coach Stephen Souky started coaching girls’ youth softball and basketball, he had no idea of the social pressure on girls to diet and work out to conform to a specific image of what they should look like. Throughout his many years of coaching experience, Stephen Souky has seen his commitment to coaching increase as he’s learned that athletics can provide a crucial way for girls to build positive relationships with fitness and health, rather than one based in shame or social pressure.
For the most part, Stephen Souky coaches girls in the middle school age range, who are in many cases encountering the many challenges of growing up as a young woman. According to Stephen Souky, he frequently coaches girls who are exposed to pressure to diet or work out obsessively in order to achieve a skinny physique. With a supportive athletic atmosphere, however, girls can learn to build a positive relationship with their own health and physical activity through learning about healthy ways of achieving physical fitness and increased confidence about their own skills.
Coach Stephen Souky focuses on building respect and sportsmanship among teammates, and that includes respect for one’s self. While many girls show up to his team with poor self esteem, Stephen Souky coaches them to athletic success, helping them feel like a key part of a team. Furthermore, when fitness is coupled with sports and a group-focused sense of participation, as well as a focus on strength and skill rather than personal image, girls can reframe the way they look at themselves and at physical activity. For Stephen Souky, seeing his players begin to reform their confidence in terms of athletic ability, teamwork, and health, rather than image or conforming to a certain stereotype, is one of the most rewarding parts of coaching a girl’s team.