“Sports can save the world.” Nelson Mandela
Athletes are positioned to be very effective leaders. Sports teams can play pivotal roles in a school, neighborhood, and beyond. Athletes are automatic role models and under the best of circumstances can elevate, inspire, and bring people together. Unfortunately too often athletes are not positive role models, instead demonstrating characteristics like arrogance, disrespect, unruly behavior and even bullying which can tear a team or community apart, imparting the wrong images and messages to fans of all ages.
Coaches and athletic directors and school principals want athletes positively influencing students. We have a program that teaches vision, focus and leadership mindset development to high school athletes who then teach what they have learned to youth ages 5-16, creating a legacy system.
Athleadership is an outgrowth of the success at Mpls North High School where the Polars in last place at the start of the 2013-2014 season, finished the season in first place, and by 2015-16 became state champions. Part of their training involved a program called Discovery of Self (DoS), designed to develop confidence, self-regulation (of mood and physiology), personal responsibility, and a sense of connection to people and purposes beyond their private interests.
As a result of the success and positivity of the team, in just 3 years, the school – threatened with closure years earlier and struggling with challenges of enrollment and public perception – went from 165 students to 420, with a graduation rate of 95% (with 75-80% of players on the A/B Honor Roll). The school’s success in turn has energized North Minneapolis and has significantly contributed to a changing narrative for the whole neighborhood.
Athleadership builds on that success, and represents the interests of coaches and athletic directors from different schools, park board and rec center personnel, parents, and school and community healthcare workers who want to see children develop as caring and competent citizens and leaders while improving their sports performance.
Athleadership is a program designed to develop confidence and compassion, self-awareness and emotional intelligence, vision and discipline. It is a leadership program for athletes to develop a mindset for possibility thinking, and the tools to co-create a new reality of opportunity for all.
”Jane has graciously volunteered her time with Community Education as an instructor of the Discovery of Self program for the young men of the Minneapolis North Boys’ Basketball program. She has quietly changed their thinking and their lives. It has been truly amazing to witness the impact on our team. One young man in particular has gone from a JV player and having very little contribution to varsity starter and a Captain which he attributed all to Ms. Jane and her class. He can be heard telling his teammates “Ms. Jane Said.” We are very thankful for her work and look forward to her continuing partnership and involvement with Minneapolis North Boys’ Basketball.” Larry A. McKenzie – Head Coach Jan, 2014 http://www.startribune.com/local/minneapolis/249151451.html
“The Discovery of Self curriculum has benefited me personally as well as benefiting the JV team that I coach at North High. As executive director of Heritage Youth Sports Foundation, I am proud that the Athleadership program is a vehicle to not only deliver vitally important DoS practices, principles, and leadership messages to youth as young as 4 or 5, but also gives high school athletes the opportunity to step into a structured role as mentors, teachers and leaders of a whole new mindset. I’ve already heard from a number of the youth how what they learned has helped them in school.” Coach Mike Shelton
Based on the DoS curriculum with a 25 year track record in a wide variety of venues nationally and internationally, Athleadership was piloted in the summer of 2016 as a program of Continuum Center and the Heritage Youth Sports Foundation. Five Minneapolis North High Polars basketball players were trained to teach elements of DoS at three summer programs serving North Minneapolis youth ages 5-15. Over the course of 6 weeks, the players (all in summer tournament leagues) worked a total of 38 hours with 70 youth. Some of the interns’ time is spent researching and writing on selected topics (see below).
“I handle things differently. I am able to deal with challenges and emotions much better by using the [diaphragmatic] breathing in order to calm myself down and not stress myself out. I use the imagery before the game during warm up to get my mind right. When I’m not playing so well, rather than get in a negative spiral, I think about when I’ve played well. Being an Athleader has helped my communication skills and being in the role of a teacher increased my confidence. It makes me feel good to know I helped some kids change for the better.” Jamire Jackson, senior guard
We want to insure that our youth develop in a sports culture that promotes the best of team spirit and player mindset so that character and cooperation are effectively instilled alongside the motivation and capacity to win titles.
Athleadership is an optimal performance and leadership development training program for sports, school, and creating opportunities in life. Not only does it impart valuable principles and practices to very young people, but by putting the high school players in a teaching position they are entrained to be role models and leaders who can positively and effectively leverage their popularity.
“I have seen myself change from being hot-headed and easily fired up or angry a lot since my freshman year. My freshman year I would get mad almost every day. I would get mad at the coaches or teammates during practice. During games I would get mad at the refs when a call didn’t go my way or even mad at one of my coaches during the game. I would get mad in school at my teachers sometimes when they said or did stuff I didn’t like and then I would stop going to that class or I would miss class and my grades would drop. But since I learned the breathing and talking with Ms Jane I slowly started to get better and better with everything.
I used the breathing and imagery before every game with my team for the past 3 years and I feel like it has really let my mind calm down and get more focused. This past season I started using it more on my own, like before a big test at school, before practice, I even did it before I took the ACT test. I used it this past summer when I was out of town at my basketball tournaments. At the beginning of my junior year I really started to become the leader I was supposed to be and it all started when I started to change the way I looked at negative situations. I stopped letting emotions get the best of me. I feel like after I learned how to do that I got more control of my life and things started to get better.
“Passing along what I’ve learned to young kids through the Athleadership program was really good because growing up I didn’t have anyone doing that for me, so when they grow up they will have an advantage. Now that I know it went well and really helped these kids, it makes me feel more confident in front of other groups.” Isaac Johnson, senior starter
Athleadership is about becoming a champion in life not just in sports, and about how to build team spirit that inspires a community and beyond. Athleadership is a program with many stakeholders – parents, city park employees, coaches, and athletic directors – who want a consistent, community-wide message to develop athletes from a young age to become positive minded role models. The impact radiates to engage and enhance well beyond athletics or neighborhood limits.
We have had requests to run this program year-round, and expand into additional sites. On tight budgets, North Minneapolis schools and community centers are not in a position to pay the interns, and HYSF is a new non-profit that doesn’t yet even have stationery, but we have been self-funding this initiative.
Athleadership Summer Pilot Program July-Aug 2016
Youth Sports Camp with a focus on developing leadership character…and focus.
Athleadership is a program designed to develop positivity and personal responsibility, confidence and compassion, vision and discipline.
We develop a mindset for possibility thinking, and give youth tools to create new opportunities for themselves, their community, and beyond – from the inside out!
In addition to learning the technical and physical fundamentals of the game, our Athleadership program provides
- drills that use and develop inner resources for focus and optimal performance
- activities that develop brain capacities widely overlooked and
- exercises to stretch thinking in many positive ways
Providing tools and ways of thinking to develop your child as an Athleader
Pilot Delivery Sites:
Jerry Gamble Boys and Girls Club
21st Century summer camp at MCTC
Summer basketball program for youth at North High
Mike Shelton – Heritage Youth Sports Foundation: 612.229.7901
Jane Barrash – Continuum Center 612.374.4948
ATHLEADERSHIP INTERNSHIP OUTLINE
Drills (for interns and for the “campers”):
- Diaphragmatic Breathing
Building Right Brain Capacities (a series of games and activities):
Seeing Connections (Interconnectedness)
- Create examples of 3 objects that seem different and look for what’s in common
Looking Inward (Introspection)
- walk across the floor trying to pay attention only to what is going on in your own mind or your own breathing
Thinking about Possibilities (imagination)
Leadership Mindset (new messaging) – INTERNS KEEP TRACK OF THEIR OWN STORIES
- You ALWAYS Have a Choice
- Find Positive in Negative
- Gratitude rather than Grumpy
- Things Not Necessarily as They Appear (Watch Your Assumptions}
- Create your Reality
- Change from the Inside Out
- We are All Interconnected
Research and Writing
Interns will meet/work at Institute for Service and learning at Pillsbury United Communities (where coach McKenzie offices) on Monday and Wednesday 10-1pm in the training center.
Interns can work in groups of 2 and 3 or individually. Each works on the following research topics:
- North Mpls basketball history
- Imagery in sports and health
- The benefits of optimism
- North Mpls Jewish and Black History