An Interview with Jeff Tarigo, Youth Sports Head Coach
Youth Sports is back in action this semester at The American Society of São Paulo (AmSoc) with T-ball for kids ages 4-7. We are thrilled to have Jeff Tarigo back as head coach for his fourth season with us.
T-ball and baseball have been a big part of Jeff’s formative life. Originally from Connecticut, he began playing T-ball at age 5, and played baseball throughout his youth, ending up as the catcher for the University of Vermont.
As he explains, “Competition and some challenges were important for me, as it helped me develop new skills and strategies to overcome them and gain confidence in my abilities. It was fun playing on a team with friends, supporting each other, and learning to understand the team is more important than the individual.”
Jeff’s goals for the season? Teach kids how to be part of a team. “Our AmSoc T-ball program is often a first introduction to sports for many of our young players,” explains Jeff.
Beyond learning how to be on a team and play the game, Jeff is focused on teaching the basic skills of throwing the ball, hitting the ball, catching the ball and running the bases.
Watching an AmSoc practice, you’ll see younger kids learn to catch using Velcro mitts. As Jeff explains, “Working with beginning players, we use Velcro mitts and balls to create a safe environment for them to begin catching the ball properly. Players can build their confidence and skill level at the same time.”
Competition... [was] important for me, as it helped me develop new skills and strategies to overcome them and gain confidence in my abilities.
Additionally, throwing balls in a straight line can be really hard for 5 year olds. To help develop aim, kids practice throwing balls through hoops. Jeff explains, “Using hoops on the fence, we created a game of ‘target practice’ for players to practice throwing the ball, working on their grip and building arm strength. Players can get a lot of reps to improve their throwing mechanics.”
Through playing fun exercises like these, kids build coordination in catching and throwing.
Bringing it Home
But beyond practicing T-ball, in Jeff’s opinion, “The more sports kids are involved with at a young age, the better. The most important thing is to have kids build their athleticism, physical movements, and confidence that will support their development in anything they choose to do later on. Whether it's T-ball, basketball, football or any other sport or activity, it's crucial that kids get outside and ‘play ball!’.”