Andre Zarb-Cousin - Colorado Springs, CO



Andre Zarb-Cousin - Colorado Springs, CO

I'm 60 and I'm a sprinter. Recently, at the Senior Olympics Qualifier in Greeley, Colorado I was truly humbled and inspired to see a 90 year-old woman competitor in the races. I hope to be in that good of shape when I'm her age! Anyway, I shaved 2 seconds off my 200m time to 28 seconds and qualified for the 2008 National Senior Olympics! I can't wait!

In my "spare time" I work with the YouthTransformationCenter in Colorado Springs to help youth at risk of heading down the wrong path. I believe it's time to give our young people a second chance to wipe the slate clean and learn from their mistakes instead of suspending and expelling them from schools or sending them to prison. My motto has always been "go for the gold," but a lot of young people don't have a supportive family to cheer them on at the starting line, whether it's out on the track field or in life. Youth Transformation Center trains teachers and students how to use restorative justice to get kids to be accountable, gain empathy for others, and take an active role in repairing the harm they may have done.

Born in Malta, off the coast of Sicily, I came to the U.S. at the age of 11 -- one of nine children, seven of them highly competitive brothers with high-scoring sports interests. It took me years to acclimate to Amercan culture. My father wanted me to be a violinist, but I chose to play soccer instead because I hoped it would be my ticket to a full scholarship to college. After more than a year of intense letter writing and phone calling, Colorado College accepted me in spite of low academic scores. I eventually set the record for most number of soccer goals scored in a season at Colorado College in 1970, a record that held for 34 years!

After a 30-year marriage, during which I helped coach both my figure-skating daughter and my track- and cross country-running son, (both of whom are now talented coaches in their respective sports) I found myself out of a job, out on the street, and living in my car for six months. If it can happen to a college graduate with successful careers as an accountant and soccer coach of 15 years, I guess it could happen to anyone. I still visit homeless shelters, partly to lend an understanding ear to the homeless, and partly to never forget when all I had was a couple of old sleeping bags to wrap myself with.

My next challenge is the 2008 Louisville, Kentucky National Senior Olympics in the 60-64 year young category. Wish me luck!

Learn more about Youth Transformation Center at www.youthtransformationcenter.org


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