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A different shot at helping kids succeed

Sotiros moves from School Board to coaching ranks

May 22, 2012

West Allis - George Sotiros, who would jump through hoops to work with kids, seemed like a fitting appointee to the West Allis-West Milwaukee School Board to fill a vacancy in fall 2009.

So it's no surprise that he would also be a fitting candidate to coach budding girls hoops stars at Nathan Hall High School, an opportunity he has accepted after being selected over other head coaching applicants.

Consequently, however, his decision means he will no longer serve on the board.

Sotiros acknowledged this week he felt he would not have time - nor in his mind would it be right - to do both jobs.

"Call me old-fashioned, but it wouldn't be proper," he said.

On the other hand, he is happy with the chance to continue working with school-age kids in a meaningful way. Serving as Hale girls head basketball coach is "just a different way to serve," Sotiros said.

Adding to life's lessons

While he will miss the board, he has wanted the schools to focus more on life lessons. In fact, that's one of the things that made him want to be on the School Board to start. Now he will be able to teach those life lessons himself, he said, through every teaching moment that comes his way.

For example, as an experienced coach of select and traveling teams, Sotiros said he tells players that when they make mistakes he wants them to be aggressive mistakes.

"Those who never make mistakes are the people who do not do anything," he said.

Sotiros wants young people to try things and get involved.

Teaching time management skills will inevitably become part of the lesson plan, too, he said, given that he will likely at some point have to ask players why they didn't do their homework. He believes he can teach them to plan ahead better so that homework will be done.

Mentors and good coaches can help young people tremendously, he said.

"Life lessons are a huge piece that's missing in society," he said.

Looking ahead, long-term

His decision to become a coach not only affects the School Board but his own daughters, whom he will be coaching a few years from now. Having a dad as a coach is stressful, Sotiros acknowledged.

"Coaches usually are tougher on their own kids to make sure there isn't favoritism," he said, adding that he talked it over with his daughters and they gave him the go-ahead.

But his commitment is even more long-term than when and if his daughters play on the team. Sotiros said, saying he would love to coach for 10 to 15 years, helping young people develop self-esteem and learn lessons that will serve them throughout their lives. He takes the task seriously.

"It's humbling that parents hand off their kids for a while, even one hour, saying, 'Here, you mentor them for a while,' " he said.

The board will discuss soon how to fill the vacancy. His term expires in April 2013.

- Jane Ford-Stewart

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