It’s an exciting time in the life of Matthew Ragogna.
The 24-year-old Schomberg, Ont., native, a well-known figure in the Niagara sporting community in his role as the Niagara Rapids technical director and the coach of three of the travel volleyball program’s boys teams, has launched his own business and also bought his first home in St. Catharines.
His enthusiasm is palpable as he discusses learning the ins and outs of being a first-time property owner and the rapid growth of his business, Niagara Youth Life Coaching. Started in September of last year, the business has grown to include more than a dozen clients. The program is designed for youth 10-18, but right now his clients range from 12 to 16.
His services are for athletes and non-athletes alike. For athletes, he can help with goal setting and routines, mental toughness and competition habits. In the realm of academics, he helps develop realistic educational goals, study habits and time management and provides guidance on the pathways to post secondary education. He’s also there to help clients achieve personal and career goals or deal with the transition between elementary school and high school, high school and post secondary and coping with change.
And while he deals with kids who are struggling in certain areas or are having trouble adjusting to different things in their lives, he also provides life coaching for those who want to be not just good, but great.
Ragogna’s training for his business has come from many areas. The assistant coach with Brock’s men’s volleyball team is a certified life coach through the Certified Coaches Federation. His masters degree in youth sport coaching and coaching efficacy has helped him understand what teens need from coaches. And his six years of coaching youth and young adults has given him an extensive background in academic, athletic, personal, and career environments.
“Everything helped and there was a snowball effect,” he said. “In terms of communication styles, I developed a good wide range in the last five or six years,” he said. “When I talk to kids and go through our meetings, it feels natural because that age group for me is really easy to talk to.”
The assistant coach with the Brock University men’s volleyball team began to take concrete steps to starting the business after he graduated from Brock.
“I’ve always had the idea for this business itself, but I didn’t know the right term was a life coach,” he said. “I knew it wasn’t therapy or counselling.”
The former captain of the Brock men’s volleyball team was motivated to start his business by his coaching experiences outside of the actual sport.
“Like teachers and parents, coaches have the opportunity to make a tremendous impact on children through interactions, motivations, and in the development of life skills,” he said. “I wanted to start this business to continue working with kids through sport, academics, and personal life transitions such as self-confidence, motivation, forward thinking, and goal setting.
He strongly believes that every child should have some type of mentor outside of the family, whether it’s a life coach, a coach in another sport, or a big brother or big sister.
“There’s always a need to hear an outside perspective,” he said, “It gives them another thought process to go through instead of doing the same things over and over again.”
He knows not everything a mentor says is new information.
“I’m sure some of what I say is what the parents say over and over again, but when they hear from an outside voice, it gives them a fresh perspective.”
His perspective is that of a life coach.
“Every kid should have a life coach in at a young adolescent stage – someone to listen to them, work with them, and encourage them to see the world from a fresh perspective,” he said. “They can begin to set goals for self-improvement while learning to handle their emotions and build confidence and social skills. Having the support of an objective and non-judgemental mentor, leaves them with a new sense of motivation and boost of inspiration.”
Each child is different and every approach taken by Ragogna must be unique and adaptable.
“Some are quieter while others love to talk,” he said. “Learning about each kid through sessions allows for trust to build between client and coach; which in turn helps motivate them to try new strategies, utilize more resources, and reflect on processes that may alter their perception and interpretation of increased motivation.”
He thoroughly enjoys his work.
“I love the opportunities to interact with children who are looking to improve themselves in their life,” he said.
Ragogna makes sure the sessions are always fun and there’s usually laughing involved, which allows children to feel safe to have another figure in their life to hear their processes and their way of thinking.
“When they accomplish goals, seeing the realization from their end at the next session is second to none,” he said. “Once they start realizing that a lot of their struggles are not huge and but are manageable, they begin to increase their self confidence and motivations.”
Ragogna has an intake process which determines if the child is a prospective client or whether they are in need of more specialized services. He also requires the child to want to be part of the process.
“The kids have to buy in,” he said. “There’s accountability and there’s stuff they have to do every week and every session.”
If the child is not interested in life coaching, Ragogna won’t take them on.
“I have a full-time job and I’m growing this business right now,” he said. “I want to have fun doing it and I don’t want to waste people’s time and money.”
The reaction to his business has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Matt is passionate about the whole person – he encourages them to get to know themselves … physically, emotionally, and socially,” one parent wrote. “He invests much time and interest in each person individually. Matt guides kids to discern their strengths, challenges and obstacles so they can develop a course of action to obtain their goals not just for sports but for life itself. He is a coach, mentor, great role model, and a friend.”
Another parent describes Ragogna as an amazing person.
“I would highly recommend him to anyone who is seeking his youth coaching services. Matt has strong leadership skills that truly motivate not only the kids but the parents who see him in action as well. He’s committed to success not only for his own life but towards the young lives he has and continues to inspire.”
The life coaching sessions are done in person or face to face through video calling. Sessions can be weekly, bi-weekly or month. Packages start at $240 and are adjusted based on duration and length of the sessions. He also offers a free coaching session to see if the program is the right fit.
For more information, call 905-868-0357 or email at email@example.com.
Visit the website at www.niagarayouthlifecoaching.com