Coaching greatness

North Preston grad inspires young leaders through sport

Coaching greatness

Coach Colter Simmonds, Founder of the We Will Win Youth Association (3WYA) | Photo: Jeff Harper/Metro

"I have a passion to help youth that remind me of myself when I was a young person growing up and needing some direction. When I moved home I set the goal to work directly with youth. For that to happen, I felt I had to have an education to be an example of what I was preaching.” - Coach Colter Simmonds, Founder of 3WYA

Fast Fact

Each year the We Will Win Youth Association (3WYA) must raise a minimum of $200,000 to travel to competitions in Ontario, Quebec and the United States.

When shots rang out in his community of Preston, claiming the lives of two young people, Coach Colter Simmonds, Founder of the We Will Win Youth Association (3WYA), felt he had failed.

“I felt hopeless when the shootings happened. I’d moved home to make a difference. I was trying to get an education to become a true role model. I blamed myself. I wondered if it was too late.”

Uphill battle

As a young person, Colter spent much of his youth travelling back and forth between Toronto and Nova Scotia. A bad reputation, hotheadedness and lack of discipline had him careening down a risky path. Over a period of six years, he attended five different high schools.

“I wasn't doing much, but I was around a lot. My friends were in and out of jail. Friends were getting killed. I didn't want to get caught up into that violence.” Colter knew it was a route he didn’t want to take.

"Back then, I was always walking a fine line. But I also had a loving family and a love for sport that kept me out of some really bad situations.”

We Will Win Association

Colter says he long saw similarities between Toronto and North Preston, and feared the historic, Nova Scotian community was on its way to a negative place. He was confident that sport could make the difference. He enrolled in Recreation at Truro Campus.

The long-time coach launched his We Will Win idea in 1999. “Back then it was just Colter Simmonds, fill a van and let's go play ball!” It wasn’t until completing his diploma however, that the NSCC grad says he had the tools and knowledge he needed to grow the organization into what it has become today.

“NSCC was me on a piece of paper. I felt accepted and respected. I was doing a program that came naturally and felt like a part of me.”

He adds, “The planning, the team work, the events management, organizing, understanding any legal liabilities, how to get the supports that I need to be successful — all of that was in the program and all of that I use now. I don’t know where I’d be without it.”

Today Colter, his team of coaches and his family and community volunteers work with youth-at-risk generally — placing a particular emphasis on African Nova Scotian youth — to encourage community, athletic and academic achievement. “We teach life skills including: anger management, understanding sexualized violence, knowing and communicating boundaries, financial management, healthy eating, career exploration and leadership.”

Since We Will Win’s official inception, over 200 youth have participated in 3WYA’s programs and gone onto post-secondary studies and athletic competitions across North America (including at George Brown College, Carleton University, Cape Breton University, University of Utah and Iowa State University).

“With the right combination of academics, leadership and athletics, young people can become leaders and inspire others,” says Colter. “Working towards a common goal, pushing yourself to achieve, fighting for what they want — if you can make that connection with young people, and show them how those are transferable skills, they can do anything.”

12/03/18

"I have a passion to help youth that remind me of myself when I was a young person growing up and needing some direction. When I moved home I set the goal to work directly with youth. For that to happen, I felt I had to have an education to be an example of what I was preaching.” - Coach Colter Simmonds, Founder of 3WYA

Fast Fact

Each year the We Will Win Youth Association (3WYA) must raise a minimum of $200,000 to travel to competitions in Ontario, Quebec and the United States.

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