As part of NFL Salute to Service Week, the New York Jets hosted the 4th Annual Solider to Sidelines (STS) Coach Certification Clinic presented by Verizon.
The week-long program supported by the Jets and Verizon provided military veterans, military spouses and Gold Star families from all branches the opportunity to receive their STS football coaching certification and become character-based sports coaches in their communities.
“We are extremely honored to partner with the New York Jets and the Soldiers to Sidelines coaching certification program,” said Tony Wells, senior vice president of marketing for Verizon. “There is no greater calling than to serve your country. Their years of service are what make them an integral part of the communities they serve. Verizon and its more than 8 000 V-Team veteran employees salute our veterans and their families for answering this call and securing the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. Thank you to all veterans for your sacrifice, bravery and strength.”
The workshop had 84 participants and was led by Soldiers to Sidelines founder and former New York Jets trainee coach Harrison Bernstein. Bernstein has served as executive director since 2014 and has helped hundreds of veterans “discover a renewed sense of purpose in their communities” as coaches.
“Some people just want to connect and bring kids into the community,” Bernstein said. “Some want to get more involved in the community at the youth or high school level. And then some want to make a career out of it where it’s their main source of income. The Soldiers to Sidelines program helps them do that.”
The first five rigorous and educational sessions took place virtually from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. from October 30 to November 4 and featured presentations given by coaches and front office members from high school, college and professional levels. They taught on several topics, broke down films, told personal stories and answered questions about their experiences in football.
“We had such a good team of presenters,” Bernstein said. “We’ve had guys at all kinds of levels. We’ve got guys from Division I, Division II, Division III, and then some of our soldier coaches who have gone through our program, we’ve helped them get college jobs, and now they’re giving back and presenting.
“This course and program is based on science and the research of everyone else in the space. We’ve had so many great contributions. Think sports, think psychology, think biomechanics, think emotional intelligence, think communication, how from which we provide this information which allows us to be inspired.”
Jets general manager Joe Douglas, whose father and uncles served, joined Thursday’s sessions and spoke about the values of the military and its impact on his life and answered questions.
“Joe heard about the concept and really enjoyed the effort and the mission,” Bernstein said. “He got involved and was great for us.”
Based on an exploratory analysis of qualitative data from past clinics, many participants were empowered and inspired to take on coaching and leadership roles in their own communities. The experience has proven to provide veterans with meaningful work serving their communities.
“The presenters, the material and the hope are enough to keep me fighting the good fight for America’s youth on the ground,” said one attendee.
Another added: “Soldiers to Sidelines has inspired me to be a better leader, coach and manager in my daily life while pursuing a new path in sports training. Many leadership concepts we learn as young people soldiers are strengthened and adapted to the civilian world making us better coaches, bosses and above all parents.”
Wrapping up the week, the Jets will welcome attendees to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on Saturday morning and honor them on Sunday when the Jets host the Bills at MetLife Stadium.
“It’s honestly indescribable,” Bernstein said of the recognized soldiers. “How can you actually put that into words? … Military service skills translate into being great coaches in the community. And our veterans and military, they haven’t finished serving just because you’re leading military service off. You can still serve his country as a coach and have a full stadium recognize that is impressive.”