Last night at Monticello High School I had an enjoyable dinner with ALL our Albemarle County athletic directors and coaches. It was a first of its kind back to school briefing for our athletic staff and featured a great presentation by UVA Athletic Director Craig Littlepage. Writing in today's Daily Progress, Matt Deegan does an excellent job capturing the theme of the evening and the important remarks made by Mr. Littlepage and Superintendent Pam Moran.
Littlepage told two coaching stories about everyday interactions with his student athletes. He described little comments he made to a player or conversations that were overheard by players that he didn't think much of at the time. The two students both contacted him years later to describe how life changing his remarks had been for them. Our coaches have an awesome responsibility and level of influence over our students.
“The smallest things and sometimes the most innocent things we do are being witnessed at times when we don’t even recognize it,” said Littlepage, who was an assistant basketball coach at UVa from 1976 to 1982 and again from 1988 to 1990. “We can be such a tremendous influence by the way that we can consistently model the behaviors that we want our student-athletes to exhibit each and every day.”
Dr. Moran also set the tone for the upcoming school year following up on a personal letter she had sent all athletic staff over the summer. She described a new set of behavior expectations for our students and our staff and challenged them all to be positive role models for our student athletes.
Albemarle Superintendent Pam Moran reinforced how coaches shape students in ways classroom teachers cannot.
“Teachers have great influence, principals have great influence,” Moran said before a room full of county coaches. “But one of the things I know is that 20 or 30 years from now, kids remember the types of coaches they had, and they remember the good and the not-so-good. What I want to do is set an expectation that when our kids walk off our fields, what they will remember about you is that you built great character in them.”
Tonight I head to Western Albemarle High School for the back to school meeting for parents of Fall athletes. I look forward to seeing our staff respond to the challenge presented by Moran and Littlepage. Parents have a very important role to play as well, and tonight will be an opportunity to start getting them engaged in these new expectations.