InSideOut in Action: Creating a Teammate Purpose Statement for Students

This is the second part in a series called “InSideOut in Action,” where we document purpose-based athletics and transformation student-athlete leadership in InSideOut Schools. 

Sometimes in our administrative jobs, it is easy to get pulled into the management parts of our job responsibilities. From meetings to emails—a day can get consumed pretty quickly. Thankfully in education-based athletics, we have the easiest cure for that challenge…spending time with students. Of course, they are the reason we went into education in the first place, yet finding quality time to spend with them can be difficult. Talking with them about their own Transformational Purpose Statements has provided some of the best connections and most meaningful student-athlete relationships over the years and is certainly a much better conversation than the ones we “get” to have regarding eligibility or other misbehaviors.

Two of the most rewarding days for me professionally so far this year both happened in the last week. One was a meeting with one of our Winter Sports Teams as they kicked off their season by revisiting their own purpose and the other was a similar opportunity with the Winter Sports Captains from our entire conference. What both of these events reminded me of was that it is not just adults who understand what the greater purpose of education-based athletics is all about.

When working with student-athletes on the development of their purpose statement, the focus shifts to their role as a teammate. When leaders on the team see their role as serving others rather than the reverse—amazing things seem to happen in that team culture. After developing their own goals and identifying their core performance and moral skills they spent time writing out their purpose, describing the characteristics of a great teammate and specifically sharing ideas of how they can individually serve their team. Here are a few examples from student’s who participated in this exercise:

“I participate in order to be a part of a team that unites in doing what we love through positivity and grit.”

“I play to show love for my teammates by modeling resiliency and determination.”

“I am a part of this team so I can further the lifelong skills of humility and love for others while creating meaningful relationships that will last a lifetime.”

“I will serve my team by bringing love and positivity to every practice and specifically learn something new about at least one teammate every day.”

“I will serve my team by showing every teammate that I care for them and by role modeling work ethic by being the first to practice and last to leave every day.”

“I will serve my team by providing encouragement and support to all team members. Specifically, I will connect with underclassmen every day to let them know I care.”

While it was an incredible exercise for both of these groups to participate in, the real measurement will be in how it is used going forward. Simple things, such as posting them on the wall near the practice venue or a weekly sharing of what they wrote by a few team members, are a couple of ways to keep it alive. In addition, a weekly “accountability check” or recognition celebration related to this activity is another great way to be sure it doesn’t end up like many other activities…in a book on a shelf. In order to really impact team culture, it can’t just be a one-time thing.