Volunteer Spotlight: Coach Mark

Coach Mark is a busy man.  A father, husband, teacher, and student, Mark Garcia's weekly schedule is chock-full with activities and rides.  Of all people, Mark can get away with saying he's "too busy" to volunteer.  Yet, every summer since 2011 he has rallied a group of volunteer coaches to host the Bellflower Summer Sports Camp at a local elementary school.  He started hosting the Summer Sports Camp out of the desire to show God's tangible love to families who often cannot afford to sign up their kids for traditional sports leagues during the summer break.  As a result, hundreds of Bellflower Unified School District kids have improved their confidence by practicing soccer, basketball, and football skills, and learned about what it means to have integrity.  

If you roll up to Ramona Elementary on a Wednesday night during the summer, you'll see a group of parents, mostly from the apartments on Flower St, chatting with one another while cheering for their budding athletes on the field.  Coach Mark starts the night off with group stretches.  He's an expert at making the kids laugh while they warm up--even the kids who are new and shy.  After warming up the kids break into smaller groups by age and are sent with other volunteer coaches, like Coach Preston, Coach Morgan, or Coach Robert, to further develop their skills before playing a scrimmage game of soccer.  You would think that would be the kids favorite part of the night, however, most kids look forward to story time at the end of the evening.  Even the most active kids calm down and lean in to see the pictures and hear the intonations in Coach Mark's voice as he flips through the pages of the storybook.  The chance to tell a story about God's love and discuss how that impacts the kids' lives throughout the week is one of Coach Mark's favorite things about Sports Camp.

We are grateful to God for volunteers like Coach Mark who make the time to invest in building relationships with the neighborhood kids and their parents.  We are also grateful for the sponsors of the 2018 camp, including The Nest, Curves Bellflower, Eastside Christian Church,  and Quick Sports.