While browsing the materials in the Positive Coaching Alliance Development Zone the other day, I came across an article called “Using Your Power to Improve Your School Community” that touches how student-athletes bear a great deal of responsibility in creating a healthy school community. As some of the most visible representations of school’s community in the broader world, student-athletes must take that responsibility seriously.

Based on the reception I got on Twitter, I am not the only one who feels this way.

Student-athletes have a number of responsibilities to the broader community, the first of which is embodying the values every time they put on a uniform with the school’s name on it. But beyond the field, these students carry a great deal of social capital and influence within the school community. PCA Founder and author of the book Elevating Your Game – a book referenced and excerpted in the article – details some of these responsibilities, two of which I’d like to expand on.

Mentor Younger Athletes

Upperclassmen have a responsibility to the program to be role models to younger players by exemplifying hard work, sacrifice, and sportsmanship within their sport environment. But they also owe it those younger students to model good behavior at school by being active participants in class, meeting all their deadlines, respecting the faculty and staff, and adhering to the values of the school community.

While watching members of the varsity basketball team play pick up the other day, I was happy to see one of the seniors – the only senior present, as it was – calling fouls, keeping players engaged, and lending advice to younger players during breaks in the session. As a captain and the most well-respected player in the gym, this player stepped up to the plate and insured the session was a productive one.

As some of the most visible representations of school’s community in the broader world, student-athletes must take that responsibility seriously.

Support Other School Activities

Most Independent Schools are not blessed with large enrollment and draw from the entire community to fill out theater productions and sub-varsity level teams. Last fall, Rivers produced The Laramie Project for its fall play and the small cast was tasked with tackling several roles each. When I went to talk to the cast about the play and what the experience of preparing for it was like, one of the actors spoke up and said “This is the hardest thing I have ever done, harder than any sport.” This young man is a two-sport All-League athlete who will be pursuing both of his sports at the college level. By participating in the play and supporting the arts, he gained an appreciation for that activity and both the play and the student were better for it.

When student-athletes are actively modeling positive behavior for younger students and engaging in the broader community, they give rise to future generations of student-athletes who will do the same. An engaged community is a healthy community.

Featured Image via Flickr/Ron Mader


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