A local high school coach was recently honored for his efforts to prevent violence.
Robert Casperson, the eight-year head coach of Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaat.at Kalé’s boys basketball team, received a certificate of recognition by Futures Without Violence prior to the San Francisco Giants’ home game last Sunday at Oracle Park. The baseball outing doubled as Strike Out Violence Day, and FWV used the occasion to highlight a leader of its Coaching Boys Into Men program.
“It was such a shock, and I told them I was only willing to go down and accept this award on behalf of all the great coaches in Alaska who are implementing CBIM and also the people at the state level that bring the trainings to us,” Casperson said.
This was the 21st time the Giants have hosted the Strike Out Violence event, according to FWV program manager Yesenia Gorbea Zuffanelli, who oversees CBIM across the country.
“Each year it’s important for us to bring awareness to folks in the world or in our community of San Francisco around domestic violence and sexual violence,” Gorbea Zuffanelli said. “Each Strike Out Violence event, we highlight a coach that is doing amazing work with the athletes to prevent violence in that respect.”
CBIM is an evidence-based program based on the belief that if men are supported as role models, they will use their influence as fathers, educators, coaches and policymakers to stand up for respect and non-violence in their communities. It teaches young athletes how to have healthy relationships, and promote the role men have in the movement to end violence against women and girls.
Ann Rausch, Program Coordinator at the Alaska Department of Public Safety’s Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, said program began in Juneau around 2010. It was introduced first at Thunder Mountain High School. Casperson started implementing the violence prevention program in 2012, and teaches lessons to his team weekly or biweekly. There are over a dozen other Alaska teams that implement CBIM, Rausch said.
“We’re trying to give them a plan for a situation so they have a chance they can be successful in it,” Casperson said. “We talk about how they can react if they see bullying going on, to be an upstander instead of just a bystander.”
Casperson helped lead a CBIM training in Juneau this spring. During the training, JDHS basketball players volunteered on a discussion panel to talk about the program’s impact on them. Casperson said player panels have a chance to drive the program forward.
“I truly think that’s one of the most influential things we can do is bringing these kids up in front of the adults and letting them see how this program has had an impact on their lives,” Casperson said.
“Our athletes are very visible members of our school community,” he added, “and if they’re working to be a positive influence in our school, that’s going to make a difference on our school culture and climate, that’s also going to make a difference on our community culture and climate. The good behavior becomes infectious and it spreads.”
Prior to going on the field, Casperson and former Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt spoke at a FWV gathering inside the stadium on violence prevention work.
“It was a powerful thing to be a part of, to be completely honest,” Casperson said. “To see that many like-minded individuals in a room discussing the progress that’s been made but (also) the fact that more work needs to be done.”
A 2015 University of Alaska Anchorage study found half of all Alaska women — over 130,000 individuals — have experienced violence in their lifetimes.
“I would really love it if all the male teams can participate in it and I plan to implement it more in the baseball program,” JDHS athletic director Chad Bentz said. “He has it down and the players know — they expect to be in that program and they enjoy it at the same time.”
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.