To Pikesville native Ben Sigelman, 25, a soccer ball isn’t just a piece of sports equipment to kick around on a field, it’s representative of the personal development — physical, intellectual and creative — that’s possible for a young person to attain and integrate into all areas of his or her life.
Sigelman is deeply committed to passing on the knowledge and care he received from coaches and mentors to the young people he works with and show them why confidence, dedication and motivation cultivated through sports is so worthwhile.
He gained experience as a counselor for five years at the McDonogh All Sports Camp and also at Lil’ Kickers soccer for kids. Then, after completing his associate’s degree in business administration about two-and-a-half years ago, he started B-more KIDSTRONG — where his clients might range from 18 months to 18 years — teaching physical literacy. He offers his programs to schools as well and just finished up a session at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School’s elementary school.
JT caught up with Sigelman in between classes at Bare Hills Racquet and Fitness Club in the Nevermore CrossFit box, where he teaches one-hour classes after school (or after camp during the summer) for kids.
Why did you start B-more KIDSTRONG?
Kids are losing a lot of their motor skills [sitting around] playing video games and watching TV, and with the program I’m running, I’m trying to change the culture of what’s going on. I really wanted to institute a new program that’s not out there. All these schools in Baltimore County are starting to lose their gym programs, and even if they have them, they’re often not teaching kids about physical education.
What’s behind the B-more KIDSTRONG concept?
I had great and talented coaches and mentors, especially my dad. And I wanted to give the knowledge they gave me to the kids out there. To pass on all that’s inspiring, motivating — all the developmental approaches they’ve given to me, like how to be a well-rounded good individual.
How does physical activity accomplish this?
With a soccer ball or anything, it’s about the effort you put into it, it’s about establishing goals. I’ll give [kids] a skill, but they can establish the goals — short term, like getting just through a class, and long term, like learning to juggle a soccer ball. They’re going to be working as a team, and they’re going to be working with other people their entire lives. So it’s important for them to learn how to share, love and care for other people when they’re young.
What are the classes like?
A typical class is first they get to hang out with each other, socialize. From there we’ll start with a warm-up game, and then we’ll go over a skill or strength for the day. We’ll learn a new movement. But it’s about really learning the movement first, learning what your body is doing and why it’s doing it. Then we do a workout — four minutes to 30 minutes, it’s always changing — and finish with a cool-down game or a stretch.
There are different ways of learning and I use tell-show-tell-go. So it’s visual, auditory, kinesthetic, linguistic — I’m hitting every style of learning so that everybody has the same foundation to learn from. Nobody is going to be left behind. Everybody is treated fairly.
Why do you love about your work?
I get to wake up every day with a smile on my face knowing that I’m giving these kids a bright future. I can be having the worst day, but when I go to work, the kids are coming at you wholeheartedly. They don’t care what happened five minutes ago; they’re there in the moment. The best thing in the world is, honestly, what they give to me, and that’s happiness. I love watching them learn. That’s the best part.