High School Athletics Coaching and Mentoring

Matea Villegas headshot
Matea A Villegas
Emphasis Area
Business Administration

Matea Villegas applied her leadership and coaching skills in her role as Varsity Boys Volleyball coach.

Why did you choose this internship?

I chose to coach varsity level boys volleyball at Tucson High School because I had three years of prior coaching experience that set me up to pursue a more competitive coaching position. After being denied a varsity level coaching position the year before, I felt more inclined to choose this internship since the position was not yet filled and I was still eager to apply my coaching skills and leadership skills to a program that could benefit from them. Having played volleyball for more than eight years of my life, I knew that choosing this internship would allow me to express my passion for volleyball and test my knowledge of the sport. Most of all, I chose this internship to gain experience in managing a multi-level volleyball program involving athletes, parents, administrators, and a school community, which is an experience similar to a management role that I aim to pursue in my future career.
What kind of work did you do throughout your internship experience? 

Throughout my internship experience, I coached and managed a Freshman/Sophomore volleyball team, a Junior Varsity volleyball team, and a Varsity volleyball team at Tucson High Magnet School for the 2024 Spring Boys Volleyball season. My role as the head coach involved applying my leadership qualities when coaching athletes during practices and games. I also applied my creativity towards designing volleyball T-shirts, senior banners, gameday posters, and community engagement events for the program. The more challenging work I did was planning and executing fundraising events, sending out weekly emails to athletes and parents, mitigating losses, injuries, and athletes’ behaviors, and completing paperwork. Despite its minor challenges, the work I completed throughout my internship played an instrumental role in my professional development and ability to face adversity.

How did your Applied Humanities major coursework help prepare you for the internship experience?

My humanities courses prepared me to take on this internship because it requires leadership and intercultural collaboration. My applied humanities and business administration coursework combines leadership and business concepts with the intercultural practices of the humanities, which set me up for success for this role. It also prepared me to reflect on achievements to gain confidence in my skills and use my creativity to address challenges that I faced along the way. Without having prior knowledge and coursework experience in Applied Humanities, I feel that I would have struggled to grasp and apply leadership skills and collaboration skills into my internship experience.

What was the most satisfying part of your internship? 

The most satisfying part of my internship was leading the Varsity team to win their region, titling them Region Champions. This accomplishment was not only a goal that the athletes set for themselves, but it was also a goal that I set for myself as their coach. Achieving this goal made me feel like all my time and dedication to coaching was a success. Winning the region is also a highly recognized achievement, which is something I plan to showcase on my resume. Another satisfying part of my internship was being voted All-Region Coach of the Year. I was so proud of this recognition and it encouraged me to continue believing in my abilities and the goals I set for myself. 
What did you find challenging about your internship? 

The most challenging part of my internship was overcoming doubt from people who questioned my capabilities as a young woman. Typically, coaches are predominantly older adults, whereas I was 21 years old at the time. Other coaches, administrators, and referees would question my age and my ability to fulfill the responsibilities of the position. However, being questioned about my age never stopped me from persevering through others' doubts. I continuously reminded myself that my experience and knowledge, not my age, are what qualified me to be the head of a high school volleyball program.

What was the most significant contribution you made?

The most significant contribution I made in this experience was serving as a role model and mentor to the athletes that I coached. At the end of the season, they wrote kind, hand-written messages to me that showed me the impact of my work. One of the athletes even asked me to write them a letter of recommendation for one of their other extracurricular activities because they saw me as a mentor. From receiving the athletes’ thoughtful letters and contributing to their personal successes, I felt like I achieved my goal of building strong interpersonal relationships with them.

What is the impact of your internship experience?

A major impact of my internship was serving as a supportive guide who helped athletes unlock their full potential and achieve their goals. Through reinforcing confidence and skill progression, I had the opportunity to empower athletes to overcome challenges, practice teamwork, and create a roadmap for success. I also set an example with my own journey to show them that even a full-time student can take on great responsibility and gain experience doing something they love to take steps forward in their career.