Challenges As Gateways To Growth: Reflections On CSADA Conference

A couple of weeks ago, Joe, Russ and I traveled to the West Coast for the 51st Annual California State Athletic Directors Association Conference in San Diego.

The InSideOut Initiative launched in California almost two years ago in partnership with the NFL Foundation, Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams and the California Interscholastic Federation, and then expanded a year later in northern California with the San Francisco 49ers. So while leadership from almost 680 California schools were in attendance at last week’s conference, only approximately one-third of the attendees have been involved thus far with InSideOut training.

This is a common challenge as we present at conferences across the country; varying knowledge and understanding of the implementation pathway and the desire for all stakeholders to have an experience where they are equipped to begin or carry on with their InSideOut journey.  

This challenge isn’t unlike the athletic administrator’s experience when working to effect change within their school culture. Communities get on board and begin reclaiming the educational purpose of sports. Leaders begin to see the positive impact their implementation of the  InSideOut Initiative is having on their school culture and ultimately on student-athletes. And then things change; administrators take new positions, coaches leave, seniors graduate—opening the door to a brand new class of students and their parents, and school boards elect new members. How does a community continue to learn and build on a foundation when there is a constant in-flow of stakeholders with the need to be brought up to speed?  

At the CSADA conference, we answered this question by focusing on creating a culture that can sustain change. We shared proven strategies around the importance of establishing a common language amongst all stakeholders. One of these strategies is for athletic administrators to “lead from the middle”; both up the chain with the principal, superintendent and school board and also down the chain with coaches, student-athletes, parents and community members. When the school community is aligned around the value of education-based athletics, a strong foundation exists that can withstand change.    

Joe, Russ and I were reminded once again that there are incredible, passionate leaders committed to putting the student-athletes’ experience and their well-being back in the center of their programs. They just need the right tools, support, and the right blueprint to do so.

Thank you again to our California partners for your passion and for being on this journey with us. We look forward to continuing this important work.