From the football field to the dog park, Brian Volk has always been a teacher at heart.
After growing up adopted at a young age in North Dakota, Brian first moved to Colorado Springs in 2001. His career has taken him to a range of places, including the newspaper business, marketing world, oil fields and most recently, training dogs suffering from abuse. But Brian has always felt most in his element when working with youth, particularly as a youth basketball and high school football coach.
“Football was a huge part of my life growing up, and I made a big mistake my senior year of high school that cost me my athletic scholarship,” he said. “A big driver in my life is helping kids stay on the right path and not make the wrong turn that I did. Athletics provide an opportunity for youth that have tough home lives to learn crucial life lessons, and it is so fulfilling to be a part of that.”
When the pandemic hit, Brian thought long and hard about what his potential next step of life could be.
“For a while, I considered getting my teaching certification and working as a substitute teacher—I’ve always thought about the classroom as an option, and I was at the point in my career where I had time to do it. But in my research I came across the opportunity to become a CASA, and it seemed like a great fit for me.”
Brian came on board as a CASA volunteer and was assigned a case with a young man that has been in the system for seven years. It is a complicated case with numerous agencies involved and navigating that world has been a profound learning experience for Brian.
“It can be frustrating at times dealing with how slowly the system moves when there are so many entities involved, but it is ultimately so rewarding because I am able to be a constant for my CASA kid when most of the other faces and names come and go from the case.”
Brian draws on his own experience as an adoptee– dealing with questions of identity in a world where he held a different last name and life experience than his biological family—to connect with his CASA kid. He is also able to integrate lessons learned from coaching football and basketball and working with dogs to establish trust and communication on the case.
“One of my favorite things to do is bring along the dogs I work with when I go to visit with the young man. Seeing him establish rapport with the animals and boost his confidence is wonderful to witness and creates some positive reinforcement that is so crucial to a youth’s development.”
Brian, thank you for your dedication to serving as a mentor and advocate to the youth in our region.