For head coach Shayla Cox, the only reason the Mexico volleyball program exists is to improve the lives of the athletes it touches.
She and her staff go about the process of coaching each and every individual with the idea that they're not just teaching them about the game, but their also imparting life lessons and helping prepare their athletes for what lies ahead. In order to truly reach that goal as opposed to it just being something they say, Cox has chosen to surround herself with like minded people and one of those fellow Mexico teachers is Hawthorne Elementary's Mendie Tutt.
Having just finished her first year at Hawthorne and about to be named to Cox's staff for the 2018-19 school year, Tutt, who's originally from Texas but moved here from New York, when talking about summer camps mentioned at her last job having worked with an instructor named David Jack. While he previously lived in Indiana, that's only because he spent a year as an assistant volleyball coach at Indiana University.
Turns out he actually now lives in Buffalo, N.Y., where his wife Felisha Legette-Jack is the Head Coach of the University of Buffalo Women's Basketball Team and he not only works in real estate, but also serves as a Coach/Special Consultant for just the type of event Mexico was hoping to host.
So, based on that reccomendation Cox and Athletic Director Jeff Anderson decided to call Jack and arrange a three-day camp around his availabilty, which actually comes with a resume much deeper than just that one job.
"(Volleyball has made my life better through) the people that I've met. The people that have impacted my life. The successes, from being a player, as well as the places that it takes me," said Jack. "Education, absolutely. You don't know where this is going to take them, if they have the ability to play in college or play pro overseas, but you never quell somebodies dreams if that's what they want to pursue. You just don't know. They're young and they may develop late or get taller, bigger or stronger."
Beyond belonging to the Jamaican National Team from 1985-96, which included being a Jamaican Sportsmen of the Year nominee and MVP, Best Defender and Best Server in '93, Jack was also HeadCoach/Director for the Long Island Big Apple Volleyball Club in Wantaugh, N.Y., from 2002-06.
He was also an 8-Time U.S.Open Volleyball All-American from 1990-'07 and in 1992 Jack was on the Men's U.S. Open National Championship Squad.
"(The cirriculum of this clinic,) it's always defense. A lot of diving. A lot of rolling. Defensive principals like where you are supposed to be in terms of defending the court when we serve. Defensive positioning. How to read the hitter when the hitter is hitting. Just all of the fundamentals of defense, as well as being aggressive enough in how we teach it and how they should approach it."
Like most athletes, Jack has been playing his sport of choice since he was a child simply because he enjoyed the game. Becoming a coach was something completely different that was a much slower process and took alot more focus and effort.
"I started working camps when I was younger. There is a fulfillment working camps when you can teach somebody a skill. The joy they have on their face after when they learn how to do it gave me pleasure that made me think maybe I could teach the game," Jack said. "Over the course of years doing camps over and over and seeing that I actually know how to put together the plans, put them in place, teach the kids and have them really learn it, I figure I should continue this and continue to coach."
One things that hasn't changed for Jack is his love for the game. Considering it allowed him to win a U.S Open National Championship and Most Valuable Player Award with the Men's 45's in 2007, as well as the AA Men's US Open National Championships in 2001 and 2005, his hard work has definitely paid dividends.
"The enjoyment comes in getting athletes to identify the area they need to improve upon and how we break the skill down for them in parts. If we're doing spiking, we take their legs out from under them and work on just the wrist snap," said Jack. "Then we work on the throwing motion. Then the approach. We'll put them in boxes and let them work on just the contact point alone. Then we'll elevate them to approach, jump, swing. We'll do the same thing with serving."
The way Jack breaks down the serving motion is to put an athlete on their knees and at first let them work on toss and contact. Eventually he elevates them to the point they can take an approach based on various circumstances before having them put it all together.
"If you break it into smaller parts for them, sometimes they understand it better than if you show them in one motion how to serve or how to hit. When things are more complicated, kids can't always coordinate enough for it to make sense to them," Jack said. "At that point a kid might decide having learned the fundamentals from someone like coach Cox or myself they really want to take this further. Because of those foundational principles they can take it to the next level."