They spend hours in practice working on their speed, strength and sport-specific skills, from diving and dribbling to serving and shooting. But student-athletes in the Cherry Creek School District also work on their leadership skills. That’s why more than 120 high school student-athletes spent September 22 in a leadership workshop sponsored by Cherry Creek Schools and the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA), a national non-profit organization focused on developing “Better Athletes, Better People” by working to provide all young athletes a positive, character-building youth sports experience.
“The Cherry Creek School District feels strongly that great leadership makes for a better experience within a school community,” said Larry Bull, director of Athletics and Activities for Cherry Creek Schools. “The athletic arena is a virtual classroom and there are endless opportunities for student-athletes to have a positive influence on their peers and our schools.”
The students who attended the workshop are members of the Student-Athlete Leadership teams from all six high schools in the district. They represented 24 sports offered at the high school level; Baseball, Cheerleading, Field Hockey, Football, Poms, Softball, Volleyball, Wrestling, and Boys’ and Girls’ Basketball, Cross County, Golf, Lacrosse, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis and Track and Field.
During the workshop, the students watched a thought-provoking video, participated in group activities and small group discussions. They were challenged to think about their role as student-athletes at their schools, and how they could use that role to contribute to their school communities and become better leaders.
“Our athletes heard about traits and habits of effective captains and leaders, and how to use their influence as often high-profile athletes within their schools to always be encouraging, positive and helpful,” said Brian Manley, Cross Country coach at Smoky Hill High School. “They were made acutely aware of the influence they can have - either positive or negative - at any given moment during the day.”
The students said it was a powerful experience.
“I felt it was very helpful in terms of humbling yourself,” said senior Victoria Rotondo, captain of the Smoky Hill Pom Squad. “It will help us show more support for each other.”
The PCA trainers, including two-time NCAA Coach of the Year, Ruben Nieves, who led the Stanford Men’s Volleyball team to a National Championship, encouraged the students to “play to win,” but not “win at all costs.” He said PCA wants student-athletes to be competitive in their sports, but also to develop life skills - such as self-confidence, resilience, teamwork, mental toughness, self-control and respect for others – that will pay off throughout their lives.
Posted September 25, 2013.