For Randy Barnes, Head Football Coach at Rains ISD, coaching is more than Friday night games. “Texas high school football coaches have always been tremendous at coaching beyond the game. We want to change kids’ lives, first and foremost.”
Coach Barnes is passionate about empowering youth leaders in his athletic program, so after noticing the frequent headlines surrounding professional and college athletes involved in domestic violence cases, he decided to take matters into his own hands. The desire to lead an initiative to address violence against women was there, but Barnes had no idea where to begin. Sports play a vital role in the lives of many young athletes, and teams often act as a second family for players. “Coaches are there for them,” he said, “but I needed more tools.”
Coach Barnes began his journey to address violence against women with a prevention curriculum designed specifically for coaches called Coaching Boys Into Men (CBIM). “This is a tool that will immediately make an impact in their communities,” said Coach Barnes. “It’s easy to do, it’s timely, and it may be the most important thing they do for their kids.” Once Barnes received training on CBIM, he immediately connected to his local domestic violence program to ask the prevention team to work with the students outside of his athletic program.
“I know that everybody is facing this,” said Coach Barnes, “I’ve talked to coaches from the richest schools to the poorest schools; [domestic violence] is an issue.” In fact, one in three adult Texans have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime. Similarly, one in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, verbal or emotional abuse from a dating partner.
As a result, TCFV further sharpened focus for athletic directors and coaches who take initiative to address dating violence within athletic communities. Earlier this year, TCFV hosted a think tank of seven coaches from different parts of Texas. The coaches began with a conversation on why a coach’s influence is vital to shifting culture within our communities. Although TCFV has a long history with the CBIM curriculum, it became clear on that day, even more was needed. Champions for Change was formed.
Champions for Change promotes safe and healthy relationships within athletic communities across Texas. To achieve their purpose, the CFC is based around four key concepts: modeling, education, creating awareness, and connecting with local programs.
- Modeling: Coaches must model healthy relationships and lead by example to educate and inspire their athletes.
- Creating Awareness: Addressing domestic violence begins with acknowledging that it is a real issue.
- Education: Multi-session learning opportunities assure the same messages are received more than once (also called dosage).
- Connection: Coaches are not alone – local domestic violence prevention programs can bring programming to schools.
“My coaches made the biggest impact on me in high school and junior high,” recalls Coach Barnes. Caring adults – including coaches, educators, and parents – can make all the difference in preventing dating abuse.
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