To the kids she coaches Marnisha goes exclusively by ‘Coach Super.’ The moniker doubling as a nickname and the perfect embodiment of her life and commitment to young people.
Hearing Marnisha’s story, her nickname becomes less surprising. Born and raised in Dayton, Ohio she grew up in a religious family where both of her parents worked, she went to school, played little league baseball and other sports here and there. In 1996, she began attending Wright State University to study computer engineering, but after attending the school for three semesters she did not have the money to continue. She left school and signed up to join the Marine Corps in order to make the money needed to return to college.
Marnisha went through bootcamp and marine combat training before she was stationed in North Carolina at the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, a major Marine aviation unit. She served in the aviation logistics unit there for about three years. She was the first female recruit through her local recruiting office and went on to help recruit more female Marines. “We say ‘we are the fewer and the prouder,’ it is already hard enough to find a Marine, but to find a woman Marine is even more difficult and then to be a woman Marine of color is even harder to find,” she said.
After leaving the military, Marnisha returned to school and earned her bachelor’s degree from Bryant & Stratton College in Virginia. While there, Marnisha realized how much she enjoyed working with and teaching others. Because of this discovery, Marnisha knew what path she wanted to take upon graduation and got a job as a middle school math teacher, keeping her in Virginia. She went on to teach at a variety of levels for close to 10 years, including teaching students with disabilities.
Marnisha began feeling complacent in life after a decade of teaching in Virginia and was contemplating a major change – moving to Los Angeles. Her cousin lived in LA and had been asking her to make the move for a while, so in 2016 Marnisha decided to take the leap and move across the country. After settling in, Marnisha was searching for teaching opportunities when she came across Up2Us Sports’ Operation Coach program. This program offers coaching opportunities for veterans to work with kids in underserved communities and it turned out to be the perfect fit for Marnisha. “Up2Us Sports brings these athletic opportunities to children in the lower-income areas who usually would not have the opportunity to do this, and I thought that’s awesome,”she shares.
At the start of her service term, Marnisha attended the first-ever Up2Us Sports Coach Training Institute that was solely for veteran coaches. She was joined at the Los Angeles training – fittingly held at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall – by 30 other veterans and together they learned and collaborated about the effect of trauma on young people and how to best serve the communities they would be working with.
Marnisha was no stranger to training because of her military background and she compared the Up2Us Sports training to that of the leadership training she received while in the Marine Corps. “In the Marine Corps we are taught you are only as strong as your weakest member, so if you see someone struggling you want help them out. With the Up2Us Sports training there was the feeling that we are all here to help each other so if there is something you don’t know or something you are struggling with we are here because we want to see you excel, be a great coach, and help your students.”
Now, a few months into her coaching career Marnisha loves the work she does as a soccer coach and mentor at Brotherhood Crusade. As a Los Angeles based non-profit organization, Brotherhood Crusade attempts to improve the quality of life of individuals through a range of programs that include focuses on education, mentorship, and sports. Marnisha uses her wealth of experience and training to work with young girls and boys, connecting with them and helping them build life skills through soccer and other fun games.
Marnisha is quick to pick up on the challenges that working with young people, especially those who have been exposed to trauma, brings. She has embraced her role as a female role model that all of her students can count on and look up to. “Working in these environments, I have to be able to learn my children quickly and be able to know what it is that they need from me,” she said. “Each child needs you in a different way. We always talk about things being fair and we have to be able to treat everyone fairly and equally, but we have to give them what they need.”
To be a positive force in young people’s lives is an amazing opportunity to make a difference and in this role, ‘Coach Super’ certainly lives up to her nickname.