Andrew Ferenchak possess all the qualities you could want in a volunteer youth sports coach.
The dad of two coaches basketball, baseball and soccer at Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina and is well-known for being patient, kind, caring, trustworthy and approachable.
Those are just some of the many reasons why kids love playing for him and parents love having their young athletes learn from him – and why he is this year’s recipient of the NAYS Volunteer Coach of the Year award. The award is sponsored by Trophy Outlet.
“My dad was a big reason why I got into coaching,” Ferenchak says. “He coached me throughout all of my youth sports and to be recognized with this award means a lot. It is very humbling.”
Before seasons begin you’ll find him gathering his team together to talk about responsibilities and respect, behavior and expectations, and the importance of always displaying good sportsmanship to opposing teams and officials. “I start with three things,” he says. “The first is teamwork, it’s always teamwork and we’re always a team. The second thing is we always have fun, we’re always looking to have fun. And the third is respect – respect for their teammates, the coaches, the officials.”
While he is an outstanding teacher and developer of athletic skills, he also cultivates a love of the game in his players while helping them embrace teamwork – and the importance of working hard and always giving their best effort.
He says that one of the reasons why he loves coaching is because he gets to see the joy on the kids’ faces when they accomplish an athletic feat, and also because he’s establishing an athletic foundation for years to come.
Plus, he loves being a mentor, role model, teacher and friend – impacting young lives through the power of sports. He discovered just how special a coach can be in a child’s life a few years ago, and it’s a moment that he’ll remember with a smile forever.
“A few years ago I was picking up a prescription and I was kind of zoning out and I wasn’t paying attention to anything around me and all of a sudden I felt this little human come up and hug me and shout ‘Coach!’ and I looked down and it was one of the kids I had coached in soccer,” Ferenchak says. “He remembered me and this was a couple months after the season. He remembered who I was and he was excited and right there it was like ‘wow, I made an impact on this 5-year-old’s life that he’s going to remember who his first soccer coach was.’ I have kids all the time now when they see me it’s ‘Hey Coach Andy’ and that really sticks with me that they can remember who their first coach was that taught them the basics.”
Ferenchak has those same positive memories from his days playing youth sports, so it’s incredibly rewarding to be able to pass along a love of sports now to the children that he coaches.
“My dad was always the head coach and my grandfather was always there helping out,” he says. “So I always look back to playing baseball and what my dad did and what my grandfather did and I draw from that.”
And it’s also very clear that kids love playing for him, too.
2017 - Matthew Szaban, Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst, New Jersey
2016 - Scott Denson, Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland
2015 - Kenneth Banks II, Suffolk Parks and Recreation Department, Virginia
2014 - James Culps, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota
2013 - Eddie Garcia, City of Henderson, Nevada
2012 - William Russel Cole, Pax River Raiders Youth Football, Maryland
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