Coach Stephanie Marquardt and James "Coach James" Bailey
Police and Youth Chicago Westside Sports
James "Coach James" Bailey, Head Coach, Lafollette Park
Coach James is a football, baseball and basketball coach. He is a community organizer at Lafollette Park located on the westside of Chicago in the Austin neighborhood. He has worked diligently to introduce the positives of sports to every child within his reach.
Coach James’ journey began in 1993 where he unknowingly fell into a position at a local park in an at-risk community in Portland, Oregon where he taught kids flag football and basketball. The program was a huge success and caused him to realize that his own community back in Chicago could benefit from the programs he developed in Oregon. In 1998, James returned home to Chicago and began looking for a place to teach kids sports and deliver the even more important life lessons that can be learned from sports. Coach James had a couple of stops along the way, assisting with various teams. Then he earned the head coaching position at Lafollette Park, located in Chicago’s Austin community.
Over the next decades, Coach James mentored and taught hundreds of kids from ages 5-18. In his own words, Coach James said, “There are a plethora of events and memories that could go on for days, but one defining moment that kept me motivated to stay on this journey going was about a kid that had missed several practices. I called their home to see why. Long story short, his mom explained that they were low on food and power was off. I sat in my car in tears…and wondered how I could help this kid and his family. I decided to send out an anonymous text to my entire team list and all I can say is ‘WOW!’. A truck was filled from back to front with everything the family needed AND we were able to get the lights on. Serving this family felt better than any championship I ever won.”
“Along the way, a few friends and myself realized that we were doing God's work in this community so we developed an organization called ‘New Life Knew Solutions’ run by my very good friend, CEO Albert Johnson. It is a mental health organization that directly puts kids and families in touch with needed resources to overcome adversities that are common in our community. Through our partnerships with organizations like "City of Refuge - Chicago" led by Executive Director Stephanie Marquardt and Chicago Westside Sports led by police sergeant Jermaine Harris we are finding innovative ways to teach OUR kids how to lead their own communities.”
Stephanie Marquardt, Coach, Chicago Westside Police and Youth Sports
Coach Stephanie Marquardt is the Executive Director of City of Refuge – Chicago and Chief Administrator of the Chicago Westside Police and Youth Sports initiative operated under City of Refuge - Chicago. She is also a baseball, and basketball coach/mentor (more of a mentor) and a community organizer in the Chicago neighborhoods of Austin, Garfield Park and North Lawndale.
City of Refuge – Chicago (501c3 NFP) and Chicago Westside Sports were created in late 2018 in response to the need for safe spaces for youth and their families as well as creating connections and pathways between the community and law enforcement and organizations with needed resources. As everyone knows, it is very hard to get people in Chicago to agree on anything (White Sox vs. Cubs, Westside vs. Southside). So, when the local nonprofit organizations, local faith-based organizations and law enforcement agreed that it would be good for all youth to have the opportunity to play free organized sports – EVERYONE could get onboard. What resulted is a sports conference that offers free AAU baseball, AAU basketball and Team USA Archery that also provides wrap-around services WHILE creating a safe space for police officers to build lasting positive relationships with the community.
The many and varied career paths Stephanie has pursued have prepared her for this current role. She has worked as an Oncology Pharmaceutical Sales Representative, home day care provider, homeschool teacher, administrator, athletic office assistant and volunteer, copywriter, editor, project manager, author, coach, mentor, wife, and mom. Along the way she has been surrounded by exceptional leaders and coaches that invested in her development.
Stephanie’s favorite part of coaching is watching the kids’ faces as they see what they can accomplish both on and off the field or court. “Nothing is more satisfying than watching these precious kids develop into well-rounded, kind human beings as a result of participating in organized sports. The benefits of organized sports are well studied and documented, but to actually OBSERVE IT and see the kids’ faces as they see their own talents and the results of their own hard work, well it’s just amazing. I am so thankful that God has given me the opportunity and privilege of being a part of everything that has been accomplished. Further, the caliber of all the other adults I get to work with inspires me to be a better and more dedicated person.”