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Sports - Campus & Community

Drexel Partners With Up2Us Sports to Help Veterans Become Youth Coaches

September 13, 2016


This fall, Marcedes Kennedy will be the first military veteran to pursue a master’s degree in Sport Coaching Leadership in Drexel University’s Center for Hospitality and Sport Management.  As part of a new partnership with the non-profit organization, Up2Us Sports, and their Operation Coach program, she will immediately put her coaching leadership skills to the test as a mentor to Philadelphia children who are hitting the courts and the books with a local program called SquashSmarts. The partnership aims to help veterans work their way into coaching and community building while getting a degree.

Kennedy will earn her degree online while building work experience and sharing her skills as a leader with students in SquashSmarts — an outreach effort started at Drexel in 2001 that connects middle-school students with tutors through the sport of squash.


Up2Us Sports' Operation Coach matches qualified coaches with local, sport-based youth development organizations — like SquashSmarts. Here in Philadelphia, the program draws on the abilities of veteran students in Drexel’s Sport Coaching Leadership program to serve as coaches, leaders and mentors in these organizations.

“Military veterans are uniquely positioned to be successful coaches in these organizations – we have children looking for role models and veterans looking for a meaningful way to contribute in society,” said Amy Giddings, director of the Sport Coaching Leadership Programs in the Center For Hospitality and Sport Management. “When a veteran becomes a coach to the children in these programs, they receive almost instant credibility. This is truly a very special opportunity, Drexel University is able to make a clear impact in the lives of children who live in underserved areas, support workforce development for military veterans and continue to provide high quality professional development through coach education."

Military veterans identified through Operation Coach will be placed in a position through Up2Us Sports to work as a coach with youth development organizations for a minimum of one year, with the opportunity to renew their position for a second year.

“Marcedes Kennedy will be a difference maker; I remember her as a young student in the SquashSmarts program at Drexel University! I am so proud to have her return to the University as a leader in West Philadelphia community while furthering her education,” said Rebecca Weidensaul, assistant vice president of Student Life. “She will bring all of the attributes from her military training and SquashSmarts experience to this new role as a coach.  We welcome Marcedes and look forward to watching her coach matches and inspire our rising stars!”



“I am thankful for the opportunity to take what I learned from Up2Us Sports and enhance these skills as I receive my master’s in Sport Coaching and Leadership at Drexel University,” said Marcedes Kennedy. “In addition to furthering my education, I have the opportunity to work with children, which has been a passion of mine since the ninth grade. What makes it better is that the children I will coach are from my neighborhood and participants in the same program I attended when I was young: SquashSmarts.”

The degree in coaching leadership is being offered with Operation Coach for the first time this fall. It’s a fully online program for any veterans interested in furthering their leadership skills and coaching knowledge. Students learn about coaching theory, developing a program, coaching philosophy, goal-setting, understanding the needs of athletes, recruiting, developing training programs, budgeting, program planning, forecasting, NCAA compliance and fundraising.

“We are thrilled to have Marcedes back,” said Claire Perry, regional manager for Up2Us Sports. “We look forward to her helping the next generation of Philadelphia’s youth succeed in sports and in life.”


Candidates for Operation Coach can apply, or be nominated, through Up2Us Sports and their position is co-funded by Drexel and Up2Us Sports. Veterans interested in learning more about the master’s in Sport Coaching Leadership can visit Drexel Central and the Office of Veteran Student Services to understand tuition benefits, which include a 40-percent discount on tuition for the master’s in Sport Coaching Leadership.

To learn more about the M.S. in Sport Coaching Leadership visit:


Media Contact:

Emily Storz