It took less than one minute to realize that David Dagostino was going to be an incredible addition to the YSPN360 Community. Maybe 10 seconds, actually, or whatever the time it takes to glance over a resume. Not just a resume, mind you, but a RESUME-resume. The kind that makes you tilt your head, glancing with a raised brow and say, “You, uh, cut and paste this from somewhere?”
A two-sport athlete (baseball and basketball) in college? Yes.
A Divison 1 Head Basketball Coach? Yep. A Division III Head Baseball Coach? Check.
Former advisory board member to the NPRBA Legends (Retired NBA Players), a former partner with the NFL Legends program, and an American Sports and Fitness Certified Speed and Agility Coach?
Played baseball professionally, and now runs Ultra Marathons? Yep, that too.
NBA analyst with SB Nation? You bet!
By the time I had arrived at “holds a Certificate of Completion from Columbia University (NY) from their Sports Management department in using Technology and Analytics to Globalize Sports,” I half expected the next line to say, “Not a fan of Kryptonite, either, and I ask that you introduce me to the YSPN360 Community as Clark Kent.”
The most amazing part of all this, though? When chatting with David, learning about his current work, from family ventures that help children process mistakes and make them life principles to globalizing sports to autism—yes, the “A” word—plus the collaboration with YSPN360, he wanted to make sure he was known as something way more straightforward, but probably even more incredible: a dad.
With that, YSPN360 would like to welcome and introduce you to
Clark Kent David Dagostino—a true inspiration and someone who is definitely impacting the youth sports experience.
YSPN360:What was your favorite sport to play when you were growing up?
David: I had a natural harmony between both basketball and baseball … I could never choose and still can’t.
YSPN360: Did you have a good youth sports experience?
David: I had a great experience. It was used as a way to stretch myself and deal with successes and failures, a means to socialize, it created an environment to learn how to have appropriate relationships with adults, and it was family time.
YSPN360: What were a few of the difficulties of being a two-sport athlete in college?
David: From an athletic standpoint, maintaining a healthy balance between competition and preparation (mind, body); carving out quiet time in the library—academics were usually done on a bus, in a hotel, in a training room…and usually I was fatigued; socialization—I had and loved my teammates, but I did not get to experience too many other things that go along with the usual college experience.
YSPN360: Is that type of athlete almost extinct (RE: Specialization)?
David: I believe the nature of youth sports—year-long schedules and training—is pushing parents to get their kids to specialize earlier and earlier. There is a fear of missing out. Personally, I believe that type of athlete is out there; we just have to allow them to emerge.
YSPN360: What was that feeling like when you crossed the chalk lines your first day as a professional?
David: For me, it was both epic and ordinary. I had worked so hard for the opportunity and had the butterflies and nervousness that go along with reaching a dream, but I also had a sense that I belonged…that I was a baseball player.
YSPN360: You were a college basketball coach and a college baseball coach—which one did you find more challenging?
David: As a head coach in both sports, the game itself always presents challenges— the challenges that surrounded all sports at that level are balancing expectations of the university, with the student-athletes, the parents, and the fan base. Making sure expectations match the resources on all levels.
YSPN360: What were some of the unique obstacles in each?
David: The livelihood of a college coach very often depends on the stability of the 18- to 22-year-olds you coach. Academics, athletics, socialization, and the future tilt the scale of stability almost on an hourly basis. My promise to each parent is that they each have an individual vision of what their child should look like after four years…the thing that kept me up at night was making sure that each student-athlete was as close to that vision as possible at the end of four years. I was in essence responsible for raising 20 of somebody else’s children.
YSPN360: What made you begin your efforts working with the youth and autism?
David: It was organic. I am driven by discovering people’s learning strategies and believe wholeheartedly that as teachers/coaches/parents, we should be striving to help each child figure out who they are as a learner. Unobstructed self-expression is always the goal.
YSPN360: For those who don’t know—or are afraid to ask—what does the term “On the Spectrum” mean?
David: It’s a buzz phrase that usually indicates that a person has behavioral or developmental problems that are usually associated with autism spectrum disorder. They tend to revolve around a person’s communication, social, and play skills.
YSPN360: Does your experience with technology/analytics and coaching/playing help when it comes to educating the youth athletes, the parents, and coaches who might be dealing with autism?
David: I think it does. In evaluating anything, I believe that you need a healthy dose of analytics and “man” analytics as I like to call it. The two challenge each other and allow for conversation.
In terms of technology, we see it in today’s world, and technology has to lead the way to globalization. Our children are far better at it than we are. We use it more often than not to allow for kids to get more repetitions at their chosen endeavor. It is also a tool for us to go back and examine past decisions (both good and bad) to assist with developing decision-making principles. In a way, we can accelerate the learning curve in a fun way, using technology and help kids become better decision-makers by turning mistakes and successes into life principles.
YSPN360: If you could say one thing to the parents and family members out there who might be hesitant to discuss such taboo topics like autism, what would it be?
David: Drop the labels. Every child has a learning strategy and a socialization strategy—learn it and create an ecosystem around it. Take them for who they are.
YSPN360: Is educating the coaches—the volunteers, the assistants—half the battle?
David: More than half. The power of our words and actions can create or destroy an experience for a young person. If the goal is unobstructed self-expression for our children, we need volunteers to put their constructs aside. As humans, we tend to try to justify our own past experiences, teachings, etc. and in the process, we box in the learner. The first lesson is to take the student as he or she is.
YSPN360: What are some of the discussions the YSPN360 Community can expect in the months ahead?
David: Unobstructed self-expression and how to create an ecosystem around a learner to foster it; creating self-teachers/don’t follow the patterns of others; on the spectrum or super learner—what’s their passion; discovering whether a child is kinesthetic, visual, or auditory; discovering patterns behind their successes and failures; uncovering personal, professional, and psychological barriers and avenues to greatness; the art of introspection (psychologically and somatically).
YSPN360: And because we don’t want to let you off too easy, let’s end with a hard-hitting one (pun intended)… Bottom of the ninth, World Series Game 7, tied game, two outs, and here you come to the plate…who’s pitching, what team are you playing for, and where does the home run land?
David: As a New Yorker, I’d be playing for the Yankees, batting left-handed vs. Pedro Martinez. I’d take his changeup to dead center, and as I’m rounding first, the stadium would be chanting…“who’s your daddy?!”
YSPN360 is grateful to be collaborating with David. His work with autism and youth sports, even his efforts with artificial intelligence to help eliminate cognitive bias during the hiring process is truly an inspiration, and we can’t wait to share his passion and experiences with the Community.
Contributor: Rick Suter, YSPN360 Editor