Coach Kuneka Gilchrist
Kuneka Gilchrist, or Coach K, is the Head Volleyball Coach at Central High School. She has been coaching for PAL for two years, but expects to continue coaching for many more years to come! Kuneka always teaches her athletes that the only competition they have is themselves and that every practice and every game is a chance to challenge yourself and develop new skills.
“I have the opportunity to give young ladies support and encouragement, but most importantly show them the importance of maintaining respect and integrity,” she stated.
Although she is focused on teaching her athletes important lessons, they’ve been able to teach her about patience and how to work through shortcomings in order to develop strengths.
One of the biggest strengths in sports is the power of teamwork. Coach K’s team works together to become better as a unit. “I have my players give me examples of things they have done alone and things they have done with ‘a little help’ and I try to show them that it’s a great thing to be great at something, but it’s even better when you can share your greatness with others and win, or build things together.”
In addition to working well together, each player on her team has confidence in what they can already do as a player, but are open to learning different and new things as well. Their openness to learning will help them their entire lives. It is great that the team focuses more on overall improvement than winning. Her team is also extremely diverse, but every player respects one another and are more supportive than judgmental.
Kuneka encourages a lot of team-building activities at practice. She also sometimes lets a player lead a drill, giving every player a chance to shine in a skill they know.
“I also meet with my captains, and stress the importance of being approachable and respected by your teammates,” Kuneka stated about her team, “I require bi-weekly progress reports, and we often discuss the importance of education not just to play volleyball but to play in the game of life”.
Coach K got involved in coaching with PAL for the 14U team. Although she was nervous, the staff was very supportive and gave her all the support she needed to develop her knowledge of the sport.
“I have always admired Ramona Cox as a phenomenal coach and professional. She is educated, well organized and most importantly has the knowledge of volleyball that I want to learn from her and all of her coaching staff,” said Kuneka of Detroit PAL’s Ramona Cox, “Her program reflects this, and I wanted to be a part of a program that develops not only skills in young players but that teaches teamwork as well.” Ramona Cox is the Detroit PAL Athletic Director in charge of the volleyball program.
“I love that she is always open to learning and improving her coaching skills and she loves to work with the girls!” said Ramona of Coach K, “She works hard to make sure the girls see improvement in their skills and have fun while doing it.”
In addition to coaching volleyball for Detroit PAL, Kuneka is also a school-based therapist, as her passion has always been giving back to the youth of Detroit. She successfully juggles her time between the two by keeping a schedule and never committing to thing she can’t finish, a mindset she uses while teaching the girls.
Coach K is doing great work with the youth of Detroit, on and off the court. Her passion for coaching is making a difference in these girls’ lives. Keep up the great work Kuneka!