'Coaching Boys Into Men' program aims to reduce sex assaults

For the first time in 16 years, Westinghouse High School made the WPIAL playoffs, but success on the field is being shared with lessons off of it.

"We tell them to be aggressive all of the time. So our thing is how do we teach them how to de-escalate and turn that switch off when you're not on the football field? That's what this program does as well,” Westinghouse coach Monte Robinson said.

Westinghouse is one of more than two dozen local high schools in the Coaching Boys Into Men program, which advocates hope will lead to a reduction in sexual assaults.

Local coaches throughout the area are using football to teach young men about domestic violence, taking 15 minutes a week with their players to talk about personal responsibility, respect and consent.

"The program is built around the unique relationship a coach has with his players,” Pittsburgh Action Against Rape educator Bernie Colbert said.

Colbert works directly with coaches to present the lessons to players one by one. The goal is to have these conversations early to prevent incidents down the road.

"There are times when some of these students and athletes haven't been talked to about healthy relationships. That's what this is all about,” Colbert said.

Robinson said it’s a program his players have embraced, helping them become better teammates and men.

“We can learn from one another. Sports is a place where that's not really talked about, not in a productive sense all of the time. This way, we can see how they really think about certain things,” Robinson said.

At the end of the program, players and coaches agree to sign a pledge against sexual violence and assault.