Minnesota Update: Celebrating the WHY WE PLAY InSideOut Team Cohort

What a year—the continued engagement from so many of Minnesota’s athletic leaders is inspiring—and I’m excited to see what 2018 brings. But before looking ahead to the new year, I want to first take a look back to assess where we’ve been, consider where we’re going, and project how we can continue to promote the educational and human growth potential of interscholastic athletics—in Minnesota and beyond.

How it All Began

Back in 2012, I read the book InSideOut Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives, by Joe Ehrmann. After a series of book discussions with a group of Minnesota athletic administrators, WHY WE PLAY—an initiative to promote the educational purpose of sports in Minnesota was born. In 2013, the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL), began training Minnesota school communities—and since then, we’ve successfully replicated the model in states across the nation under the InSideOut Initiative umbrella.

Today, more than 500 Minnesota high school athletic administrators receive annual training on the purpose of education-based athletics. More than 25,000 Minnesota coaches have undergone training, in which they write their Transformational Purpose Statements. What’s more, the MSHSL’s board of directors enacted a policy requiring statewide school board training on the purpose of education-based athletics prior to signing the league’s membership resolution.

We’re proud that WHY WE PLAY has become the national model and foundation of the InSideOut Initiative.

Where We Are

In August, a cohort of Minnesota high school athletic administrators made a year-long commitment to address the specific needs of today’s youth—as part of a collaborative partnership with the MSHSL, the InSideOut Initiative and the Minnesota Super Bowl 2018 Host Committee Legacy Fund.The cohort meets every month to work on their personal and professional growth, reflect on personal experiences with the InSideOut Initiative process, and develop strategies for creating authentic communities.

The cohort’s last meeting was on November 25 at U.S. Bank Stadium for the WHY WE PLAY Leadership Citation Award ceremony. At the event, 37 school athletics and activity administrations were recognized for their leadership and commitment to education-based programs in their schools. You can find a recap of media highlights from the ceremony here.

Where We’re Headed

The cohort’s next meeting is January 30, where every athletic administrator in the Minnesota cohort will be asked to bring two coaches from their athletic programs with them. The day-long event will be hosted by Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee Legacy Fund, and will be centered on creating a Community of Care, with a particular focus on the health and emotional safety of Minnesota student-athletes.

We’re asking for coaches to come along to assist in developing a school-specific action plan because they play a significant role in their student-athletes’ lives—not only to create a caring, safe environment for them, but to recognize unhealthy situations students might be facing and get them the help they need. But for that to happen, coaches must know and embrace their transformational role.

After the January meeting, the Minnesota cohort will continue to meet every month until May 2018. In the end, we hope athletic administrators walk away with transformational leadership skills to implement in their school communities and a new sense of purpose to serve their student-athletes and communities.

Thank you

Joe and I are both grateful for all of the incredible partners who’ve committed to joining us on this journey. Thank you to our Minnesota partners for your leadership, your partnership, and your support. We’re looking forward to another inspiring year of growth and impact in 2018!