Sports have a multitude of stats, but none that can actively track the kind of pressures that are put on athletes in a small town. With high school athletics going through a multitude of changes in the past few decades, Proactive Coaching is going to schools across the nation trying to lay a philosophical foundation for a healthy sports program.
“When kids are little we tend to measure success when they can kick the ball or hit it off a tee,” Chewelah Volleyball and Track Coach Shirley Baker said. “We accept the errors along the way. When our kids get older, though, people tend to focus more on wins and losses.”
Founded by Bruce Brown in Washington State, Proactive Coaching has several speakers that travel across the country and speak extensively on the player/coach/parent/community relationship that can be complicated. Brown spent 35 years as a teacher, coach and athletic administrator on the junior high, high school, junior college and collegiate level.
Now as the director of Proactive Coaching, he helps run a speaking program that goes around to school districts trying to promote healthy relationships in sports programs.
On August 22, Chewelah will be visited by Proactive Coaching speaker Mike Morgan. Morgan is the head football coach at Colfax High School which has seen significant success on and off the field.
“He’s built a culture of success down there,” Baker said of Morgan. “They focus on character building and that’s what allows their athletes to maximize their potential.”
Baker, who has coached two sports at Chewelah for several years said that Proactive Coaching pushes the message of athletes committing to their sport, coaching focusing on making their players better people and communities having a healthy relationship with their sports.
“When I started out coaching in 1989, there was a strong focus on just the execution of the sport,” Baker said. “Just the Xs and Os and how you performed. But you learn as a coach that there’s an added element of character development that is equally important.”
Morgan will host three speaking engagements at Jenkins Junior/Senior High School. At 10:30 a.m., he will speak about Life Lessons for Athletes, host a Captains and Coaches Workshop at 1 p.m. and there will be a “Role of Parents in Athletics” presentation at 6 p.m.
The presentations are free to attendees.
Baker did fundraising for the event by hosting an adult rec volleyball league in the spring and the Chewelah School District has also been very supportive of it as well.
“Proactive Coaching speaks at so many schools you can tell that there is a big need for this in high school athletics,” Baker said. “It’s just not our school but high schools and colleges across the nation.”
Brown worked with the University of Oregon, breaking through the normal cliches of “we need to work harder and practice more” and finding out the real issues the teams had with players partying too much and getting into unsavory activities that brought down the team, Baker said. Brown’s philosophy is to maximize the fulfillment and success that each athlete can experience.
“In 1995 you didn’t have to think about your sport year-round,” Baker said. “Now you have athletes that play their sport year-round on select teams and you have some athletes that don’t. Getting those athletes and families to mesh together can sometimes cause tension.”
The bar has been raised for high school athletes, Baker said, in all aspects including financial commitment, time commitment, pressure and the level of competition.
“You have kids that have families that can afford to go camps, personal lessons, play for select teams and join a gym,” Baker said. “And then you also have kids that can’t afford that.”
The speaking engagements will try and reinforce the philosophy of high school sports programs to make players better people, have a positive experience and improve community spirit.
“The greatest sin a coach can commit is to allow kids to slide by. This goes for the classroom as well as the court,” a quote by Hubie Brown reads on Proactive Coaching’s Facebook page.
The parent meeting is open to anybody that has a kid or relative involved in sports. It’s also open to people outside the Chewelah School District.
“Morgan will talk about how adult behavior can affect your players, what pressure does to them and what pressure feels like,” Baker said.
Baker added she sees this as a catalyst for Chewelah’s sports programs and hopes this can lay down a foundation to reinforce the positive experience already in place for Chewelah’s athletes.
“It’s our job to help kids find their gifts and abilities and allow them to get the most out of them,” she said.
Baker used the example of a former athlete of hers that turned his athletic experience into scholarship for a college and he has since moved into musical education and is now a producer for the Shakespeare festival in southern Oregon.
“That has nothing to do with wins and losses,” Baker said. “He was an athlete, he used his discipline and sense of commitment, applied it to something outside of sports and now he does what he loves. That’s what we as coaches are trying to do, give kids tools they can use down the road.”
By Brandon Hansen/The Independent Staff
Proactive Coaching in Chewelah
Schedule for Aug. 22 at JJSHS
10:30 a.m. — Life Lessons For Athletes — appropriate for athletes entering grades 5-12, their parents and coaches.
1 p.m. — Captains and Coaches Workshop — appropriate for coaches and team leaders entering grades 7-12.
6 p.m. — The Role of Parents in Athletics — all parents of any child playing youth sports pre-K-12 are encouraged to attend.
A straightforward message from athletes to their parents about how adults can help their athletic performance, create good memories and demonstrate respect from the perspective of young people.
If you have questions, email Shirley Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org.