The Princeton Varsity Club and Coach for College celebrated 10 years of their global partnership this summer. During this momentous year, five varsity student-athletes took part in the program, spending three weeks in rural Vietnam teaching and coaching underserved middle school students.
Coach for College is a global initiative that aims to promote education through sports and invites American student-athletes to combine their passion for service and sports to mentor younger Vietnamese students in different areas of academic, athletic and cultural skills.
As a part of their experience, Princeton student-athletes were assigned a specific school subject and sport to teach. They were then paired with local Vietnamese college students to develop daily lesson plans and outdoor activities for their classrooms. The Vietnamese coaches served as their tour guides and translators throughout the summer and helped each group build camaraderie among their students. Each class was assigned a special team color and came up with a unique name, which also lead to some friendly competition among the groups. Classes faced off every day in some fun academic and athletic competitions and at the end of each week, teams were awarded points based on their success. The competitions culminated into a fun celebration with all the classes at the end of each camp rewarding the students and coaches with various prizes.
“Encouraging the Vietnamese children to fulfil both their academic and athletic potentials was the most rewarding aspect of this experience. I enjoyed leading the purple team in both academics and athletics, especially with volleyball and biology. Creating an environment in which the Vietnamese children were able to explore their passions, be curious and create genuine connections to both their coaches and peers was both important to the program and rewarding to self.”
– Tamara Tymczyszyn ’26
When they weren’t teaching in the classroom, Princeton coaches also had the chance to become students themselves and learn about the rich history of Vietnam. During their trip abroad they lived alongside local Vietnamese instructors, toured the rural countryside and immersed themselves in Vietnam’s culture trying typical food dishes and traditions.
“To the Vietnamese coaches, thank you for showing me true compassion and understanding. I learned not only about culture and a different way of living but a new form of love displayed through friendship. One that transcends culture and language. I’ve never had such a hard goodbye and I know it is because what we had was so special.”
– Serena Starks ’23
The Princeton Varsity Club is proud to have sponsored more than 60 student-athletes to participate in Coach for College over the last 10 years and looks forward to providing Tiger student-athletes with this transformational experience for many years to come.
“I was able to feel and see the impact of Coach for College on me and the children almost immediately. While I taught the children lessons on English and volleyball, they taught me life lessons on winning, losing, resilience, passion, and joy. Beyond the children, I was also able to learn about the culture in a unique setting with Vietnamese coaches providing us firsthand experiences. I am beyond grateful for the Coach for college program for providing me an experience I will never forget.”
– Ava Houlahan ’26