Patrick Murky is a competitive swimmer with his sights set on making the 2012 Olympic team. Before being recruited for the University of Texas at Austin’s swim team, he spent a lot of his high school years–usually more than 20 hours every week with his swim coach, Brian King. Practices, swim meets, and travel time meant that Murphy and his coach shared a lot more than just a love of swimming.
Over the years, King has become a part of Murphy’s family. “Brian is a combination of friend and family–in a way I look at him like a big brother,” says Murphy, 18. When Murphy’s father became very sick a few years ago, King stepped in and made sure Murphy got to practice, kept up with his schoolwork, and had someone to talk to. “I view myself as something of a father figure to Pat. He knows he can tell me anything, and I’m there for him,” says King. “We are very close.”
The relationship between Murphy and his coach is not unusual. For many teens, a coach is more than someone who will teach them how to play a sport. Coaches can have many other roles in kids’ lives, according to Sandra Short, professor of physical education and exercise science at the University of North Dakota. “Coaches can be teachers, mentors, parents, role models, friends, motivators, advisers, and even career counselors to the kids they coach,” she says.
Lexi B. isn’t an athlete–she’s an actor. Lexi spends several hours each week rehearsing with her acting coach, Jody Davidson, as part of a youth theater ensemble. The high school junior is learning a lot about the business of acting from Davidson and views Davidson’s role in her life as that of a teacher and mentor. “I’ve had some situations when I have had to go to Jody to get advice about dealing with things I’ve found difficult, like not getting a part I really wanted,” says Lexi.Continue reading