Setting New Standards in Indiana

Earlier this month, Joe, Jody and our InSideOut Team traveled to Indianapolis to celebrate a successful year with the Indiana Cohort and our Indiana Partners. This professional learning community of athletic administrators has been hard at work over the past year on a systems level approach to transforming their school culture. The event on April 30th was a culminating event meant to honor them for their leadership and commitment and to provide ongoing support by engaging their coaches in a day-long training on transformational coaching.

In all, more than 300 athletic directors and coaches came together at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center to learn how, through supportive leadership and intentional coaching, school communities can successfully reclaim the educational purpose of sports and create a Character Game Plan. As always, the Indianapolis community showed up with purpose and intentionality, and the conversations were productive and inspirational.

The day’s training prompted the coaches to reflect on why they coach, why they coach the way they do, and how they define success—questions that are vital to the InSideOut process. “The great myth is that sports build character,” Joe reminded attendees during the training. “The truth is that coaches build character.”

Jody challenged the attendees to look inside themselves, and examine their own life’s narrative to help address why they coach and lead the way they do, and what it feels like to be coached and led by them. “We have to go inside, look at our own life’s experiences, and understand how they play out with our students today. Are we just replaying old tapes or do we understand that what we say and what we do impacts our students for a lifetime.” she said.

We were honored to have Chris Ballard, General Manager of the Indianapolis Colts, as the event’s keynote speaker. He shared his personal experiences as a father and the impact this has had on him both as a man and as a leader. He reminded us that only a tiny fraction (less than 1%) of young athletes go on to play sports professionally, and that it’s therefore imperative that coaches give their athletes lessons they’ll be able to use in life. “The most important people for the future of our youth are coaches and teachers,” he said.

State Association Partnership = Key To Success

The active engagement of our state association partners is critical to the success of the InSideOut initiative, as evidenced by Matt Wolfert, President of the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) Foundation and Bobby Cox, Commissioner of the IHSAA. Matt and Bobby have been an outstanding partners, and their enthusiasm for and commitment to reclaiming the educational purpose of sports are why more than 105 schools across the state of Indiana have already engaged with the Initiative. This means that more than 45,000 student athletes in Indiana have been touched by the InSideOut Initiative to date! We can’t say enough how vital partners like Matt and Bobby are to ensuring education-based athletics are valued as an opportunity for teaching and learning and that they are supported and promoted as such by school boards and school administrators.

The outstanding turnout and response at this month’s Indiana Cohort training exemplifies the commitment our Indiana partners have shown in the two years since the launch of the InSideOut Initiative. To say InSideOut Indiana has been a huge success is putting it mildly. Joe said it perfectly: “You’ve really set the standard, here. You’ve been tremendous. We can only hope that all communities approach this work the same passion and fervor that Indiana has.” With the amazing support and commitment of the Indianapolis Colts and with Matt Wolfert and Bobby Cox’s continued leadership, the future of sports culture in Indiana is bright.