InSideOut in Action: Learning and Growing

You may remember that Brainerd High School (in Minnesota) made national news last year when our local paper, the Brainerd Dispatch, ran an article that covered the mid-season announcement of the resignation of our boys basketball coach. His reason: the pressure and discord caused by a few unhappy parents of kids in the program. Which was a stark reminder that even in a school where the philosophies and practices of the InSideOut Initiative have been in place—the work must continue!

Fortunately, the story doesn’t end with one coach’s resignation. The continual work of our entire coaching staff is focused on education-based athletics where our efforts are focused on the growth and development of the inner-lives of our student-athletes. Both our boys and girls basketball coaches are trying to reclaim space in their programs to emphasize the teaching and learning of character skills through the sport of basketball.

What specifically are they doing to reclaim that space? First, both coaches took the opportunity to educate the parents on the differences between goals and purpose—helping to cultivate our commitment to using the common language of the InSideOut process. Parents were quick to identify and relate to typical goals that their children might set over the course of the season. A few common examples:

  • Win the conference
  • Make it to State
  • Earn All-Conference Honors
  • Be a starter

Next, they shared their transformational coaching purpose at those same meetings. Parents were able to see that coaches were showing up each day with the intention of helping their child grow as basketball players AND as human beings. A few examples are listed below.

  • I coach to provide a positive experience and help student athletes prepare themselves for the rest of their lives, while teaching the importance of staying power, teamwork, leadership, care for others, and communication.
  • I coach to set the stage for life lessons in discipline, responsibility and good sportsmanship. These areas help develop relationships with players, coaches, family and community.
  • I coach to provide an atmosphere that makes each athlete feel valued and motivates them to work hard and improve in each practice/drill with the hope of contributing to making the team great.

In this way, our coaches were able to communicate clearly to parents that we are going to prepare, plan and play to WIN, but it’s not going to be the only way we define success over the course of the season. We are going to intentionally show up and teach PERFORMANCE (help us be the best version of ourselves) character skills and MORAL (help us help others to be the best version of themselves) character skills on a daily basis! We believe that character skills can be learned, therefore they can be taught. And in order for us to effectively teach these skills, we must model them and it requires us to be INTENTIONAL in our planning and teaching.

Our boys basketball coaching staff took advantage of a lengthy road trip (not too uncommon for our school) to work with his team to identify a collective team purpose statement. He shared a list of character skills and had his team vote individually on the those they held most dear for this 2018 team. Once they identified the character skills, they were able to draft a transformational team purpose statement on which they could all agree.

“We will be DRIVEN to bring POSITIVE energy and stay together as a FAMILY.

It is certain that we will win some games and we will lose some games over the course of this season. It’s rewarding to know that our players can be mutually accountable to a collective team purpose statement in which they all had a voice in creating. It’s also empowering to reclaim the space of education-based athletics knowing that our team can now define success against their transformational purpose instead of  the scoreboard; success that will transcend the zeros on the time clock and serve our players for the remainder of their lives.