"DARE TO BE YOUR BEST" was a challenge issued to all athletes in Part I of this series. Of course, this isn't only important for athletes between the lines, but in all other areas of their life as well. Young athletes have a tremendous opportunity to BUILD THEIR BRAND. One of the best "brands" to build is one of a true student-athlete. In order for that to really happen, athletes have to "DARE TO BE THEIR BEST" on and off the court.
The time to begin doing your best at managing that brand is now. Colleges like students who achieve in the classroom and are involved in campus activities (like athletics). Employers are looking to hire people who, among other things, have had internship experience, campus leadership, and student-athletes. This can be especially advantageous for young girls. Over 80% of the female executives at Fortune 500 companies identified themselves as having competed in organized athletics.
Why might this be true? Because student-athletes have successfully developed some skills that employers seek, such as:
• Goal Setting
• Time Management
• Ability to take direction
• Recover from adversity
What goes into "building this brand"? Just about everything! Not just performance on the court and in the classroom, but on campus, in the community, on Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter. Whatever you do in each arena creates a "footprint" that can be traced directly back to you. That's why it is so important to take advantage of every opportunity in school and to build the habit of doing your best so it filters into everything you do.
When it comes to taking advantage of opportunities I don't have to look any further than my two daughters. My oldest daughter, Heather, had a nice athletic career in high-school which was somewhat chronicled in the following article in the Los Angeles Times, with the appropriate title: "Lokar Finding a Way to Fit In Everything" .
The manner in which she lived her life as described in the article became a habit and continued throughout her collegiate career as she was a starting guard her final two years at the University of Redlands and remains in the record books as having one of the finest seasons at the free-throw line in UofR history. While competing she also was the campus president for teh Fellowship of Christian Athletes, helped run Intramurals, worked in the Athletic Training Department...and in less than two weeks we'll be able to call her Dr. Heather Thomas, as she completes her Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT).
Following in her footsteps was my youngest daughter. Brittany, who managed to pull off one of the most interesting parlays possible in high school. This could only have happened with the understanding, assistance, and cooperation of her coaches and advisors, and a great deal of effort on her part.
Brittany was very interested in performing arts, but as a 3-sport athlete didn't think she could find the time to participate in her school's drama production. Then in her senior year, she had a frank conversation with her softball coach and the director of the Spring Drama Production, who practiced and rehearsed at the exact same time.
The arrangement they worked out was for her to come to practice early and do some individual work in the batting cage and in the outfield, as she was the starting centerfielder. When rehearsals began for the play, the director would send a messenger to the field for her to come in and rehearse her lines. Upon completion, he allowed her to return to practice...until she was needed again. These pictures could easily have been taken on the same day!
This not only required great effort on her part, but also required the adults to make some extra effort and concessions, while putting their own "ego" aside in the best interest of the student-athlete. For this we are deeply grateful, as she went on to graduate first on her class at the University of La Verne ...with a minor in Theater
There is a perception that athletes must sacrifice other co-curricular activities, or even academic excellence in order to successfully compete in sports. I'm here to tell you, from experience, that simply is not the case, but it does take a lot of effort ...and you must DARE TO BE YOUR BEST!
At my youngest sons school in the Covina-Valley Unified School District, in order to maintain a culture of learning and academic achievement they use a School Wide Management System (SWiMS) that consists of expectations and consequences to encourage positive student behavior and readiness for learning.
Every student has a SWiMS Card that has positive reinforcements on one side and on the other side space for when the student fails to meet expectations. When the student gets either a positive or negative report they are to take the card home to get signed by the parent. It’s important for the teacher to not only log the negatives, but also to “catch them doing good” as often as possible.
When he didn't have a very good week, he came home with a letter he had to read that I really liked. So I adapted it in similar fashion to the format presented in Part I. This is for every student-athlete to "DARE TO BE YOUR BEST" and intend to use it with my 9 yr old again, when the time is right.
"DARE TO BE YOUR BEST"
I dare any aspiring student-athlete to read and absorb the material presented on this page, word for word, at the beginning of every day for the next 21 days. I dare you to tape this exercise to the inside of your door and to use the columns provided in checking off an honest appraisal at the conclusion of each school day.
My parents, coaches, teachers, principal, and staff at my school care about me deeply and want me to experience much success in life. They try to help me to reduce bad habits that may hurt my ability to succeed and to develop good habits that will help me throughout my life.
Achieving success at school, and in the outside world, depends a great deal upon my ability to make good choices, give my best effort, and to show self-control in a variety of situations, in and out of the classroom.
In the classroom, and at practice or games, it is important for me to follow the rules so that my classmates, teammates and I can learn from our teachers and coaches without disruptions or delay. When my teacher or coach must take time to work with students or players who are not observing the rules, learning stops for all.
Outside of the classroom it is just as important for me to follow the rules so that school and my team can continue to be a safe learning community. Negative behavior and habits developed during school or practice can be difficult to change. Rules are excellent tools to help me, as I become a successful student-athlete.
I will think about this and ways that I can avoid choices that rob my classmates, my teammates, and me of valuable learning time. I know that supreme effort, respect and responsibility are three traits that will help me to have a successful life. I will dare to do my best to try and develop those traits in everything I do.
It isn't easy to do your very best. The reality is most never really get there. But remember, success is based on knowing you gave your best to attempt to get there. We want to make that effort an everyday occurrence. That is something that is possible. And it is possible when it becomes a habit and gets to the point where you do not know any other way.
When you approach every day with the mindset that you are going to CARE, THINK, and TRY to the greatest extent possible about everything you do...when every play, every day is executed with the most effort you can give, with the greatest attention to the details that have been taught that is possible, and exhibiting the kind of character that represents "your brand" in the best possible way - then you'll know that you have met the challenge to "DARE TO BE YOUR BEST".
"Ray Lokar, Lead Trainer for Positive Coaching Alliance, provided today's article. "Coach Lok" will be a frequent contributor to "The Athlete's Sports Experience". You can follow Ray at: http://twitter.com/coachlok