Coach Jamal O'Quinn:
"I really just do it for the kids and our community."
As part of our founder's vision for FIYA, we've been reaching out to members of the community that we feel demonstrate the positive characteristics of which we expect from our coaches, administrators, parents, student athletes, and other members of the community to create what we call "FIYA Features".
After watching Coach O'Quinn and the KIPP Scholar Academy Lions' season and having won the D1A 2018 Flag Football Championship, we felt that Jamal and his team demonstrated a lot of what we love to see in FIYA: teamwork, determination, school spirit, and positive mentorship from the coaching staff. Beyond that, the overwhelming sense of community that was displayed at their championship game with their spectator presence, cheerleading squad, and student drumline was one to never forget!
Part of why the founders wanted to build a nonprofit organization that hosted and impacted school athletics specifically is because of the benefits that it brings to the school as a whole, how school sports can teach life lessons and values, but also how it can help create a stronger school community and stronger students in the classroom altogether. KIPP Scholar, their flag football team, Coach O'Quinn, and his coaching staff showed that to us this season. We'd like to recognize Jamal for his accomplishments in FIYA but also for his involvement in and service to his school being the head flag football coach, the physical education teacher, AND the athletic director.
We asked Coach Jamal a few questions to give our readers and community some depth to who he is as a coach, as a youth mentor, and as a person. Here is what he had to say:
Q: Did you play any sports growing up and if so, is there a specific coach that impacted your life during those years and beyond the field?
A: I played all Basketball, Football, Baseball, and Track growing up. I was an all-state athlete who received a Scholarship at Boise State university and finished at Cal State Stanislaus.
Q: How long have you been coaching and what first got you coaching?
A: I have been coaching for 13 years. My father was always my coach. He is my best friend and the most amazing role model I anyone could have.
Q: What's your philosophy on coaching and how it led you to success this season in FIYA Flag Football?
A: My philosophy is try your best on every play and everything else will be okay.
Q: What is your philosophy on coaching young boys specifically and the importance of it?
A: I want sports to be a learning to tool for young boys to use throughout their lifetime. I want them to try their best in anything they do, just not sports related.
Q: Your school and team demonstrated such high energy, school spirit, and it always looked like you were having fun. What do you think is the significance of having that be a part of your school/sports culture and how do you think that affects your kids' experience in playing school sports?
A: I really just do it for the kids and our community. If you're not having fun doing it then its not for you. Sports is motivation for our young students. I tell them all the time you can use sports for a better education.
Q: What advice can you give to the rest of our coaches in FIYA in regards to coaching youth sports and positively doing so?
A: I really think coaches need to understand what sports are for. It is used to show only the importance of team work. I never care or focus on wins and losses just the improvement of my team. We need more teaching the students the proper way to compete.
Q: Do your students participate in sports (such as club teams or rec leagues) outside of your school programs?
A: We have about 3-5 students that do. But the majority do not.
Q: Do you have any favorite stories (positive or success stories for example) on a student athlete or from your school as a whole that came from playing school sports in FIYA?
A: I had a student who cried after the championship game [this year] and told me he never won anything in his life. The first time he played football was with me two years ago in the FIYA league. He was beyond grateful for the medal and the field. He cried in the championship game because it was also the first time his parent saw him play and it was in the last game we won.
Q: What do you think the benefits of school sports are? And specifically for KIPP Scholar, how has sports enhanced its school experience, and what have been the benefits of having school sports offered to your students?
A: I really believe sports helps our overall school discipline. We had a lot of student getting in trouble in school, but once they're on a sports team and they are suppose to compete or be on a team for that season, it changes. Some students (including me when I was younger), sports are the only reason why they want to do well in school. [As the athletic director] I have a GPA requirement and behavior requirement for all athletes at our school.
Q: Are there other leagues or organizations available to KIPP Scholar to participate in school sports? If yes, why do you choose to participate in FIYA's programs?
A: Yes and No. I just love the FIYA league for the competition, sportmanship, and vision it has to reach kids in school with sports. I love the league and what it offers to our schools.
Thank you Coach Jamal O'Quinn for your commitment to your school and for positively contributing to the betterment of our FIYA community!