New sports leadership meetings coach captains into role-models


Kelby Wittenberg

US athletic director Andrea Schmidt

Captains play an important role in all sports: they are the leaders of their teams who amp up the rest of their players; they provide encouragement when things aren’t going their way and cheer and chant when things do.

The captains that command the rest of their squad assume a great mantle of responsibility. Spartan Athletics is aiming to capitalize on this aspect of leadership starting this year, with increased guidance given to team captains through the forms of meetings and memos. “SPA used to have kind of like a leadership group 4 years ago and it was mostly seniors being taught in general how to be a great leader for their teams and such,” said US athletic director Andrea Schmidt.

“I had previously worked at the university level in athletic administration and I was connected with the NCAA and leadership groups … The things I learned weren’t even necessarily about sports teams but about how to be a better leader within your school. I connected with Mr. Delgado and I said maybe we can make a leadership course for some of the captains in the community,” Schmidt said.

At the moment, the leadership workshops meet about once a month and discuss issues like how to be a leader in making smart decisions at points in the year where parties are more common, such as homecoming week. Traditional sports leadership is still taught, but Schmidt is hoping to cover topics that teach team captains how to be role models and shepherds instead of the more traditional role of captains being the first to charge into battle. “It’s starting slowly, in that my vision is bigger than what I think we’re capable of right now and I’m hoping it’ll grow and evolve over the next few years, but right now we’re sort of in the test phase … there’s actually a high school out east that’s structured very similar to SPA and they even have a dean of leadership, so I’m sort of striving to get to where they are,” Schmidt said.

“I just really want to challenge our students to take that extra step when it comes to leadership. I think they especially need to think about themselves as leaders in what we do here at SPA and how we can take that a step further,” Schmidt added.

The leadership workshop is currently open to all captains of athletic teams at SPA and will meet in the fall, winter, and spring, or whenever Schmidt feels it’s appropriate. While it’s still on its first legs, the captains leadership workshops show real promise in transforming the community of leaders and captains at SPA into a group that encourages the younger students to forge their own paths rather than the ones that have previously been carved out for them.