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Student Athlete Transition
Life Skills Circle
Campus Climate Assessment


Life Skills Circle

Introduction and Goals

The lives of student-athletes are often complex as they balance academics and athletics. While professors and coaches demand high standards, so too are the demands off the field. Student-athletes seek spiritual, social and other relationships as a part of their maturation and social-emotional growth. These relationships or "off-field" pursuits can further complicate and consume the lives of student-athletes, distracting them from their primary mission and goals. Proper management of the education of the life skills that student must be as comprehensive as their academic and athletic lessons and as "real" as the lives they live.

Such programs must go beyond punitive threats and/or the use of "prevention language" and scare tactics. Student-athletes must be engaged as part of the solution and they should learn to understand social issues and life skills in as comprehensive, honest and transparent fashion as their academic and athletic lives.

The Goal of the Life Skills Circle (LSC) is to create an environment that is comprehensive, interdisciplinary and that integrates many of the constituents and perspectives that impact the lives of student-athletes. There are also a "leadership" and "mentoring" components for student-athletes to demonstrate ownership and accountability. Lastly, LSC involves administrators, coaches and other adults with the goal to educate them on the ever changing world that is the lives of today's student-athlete.

The program begins with an assessment of the needs of an institution and/or athletics department. Following a review of the assessment that includes interviews with various campus administrators, staff, coaches and students, the program is delivered in five phases.

Phase I

Form Leadership Council

• Interview and develop a strong team of committed individuals, representing a cross section of campus and athletics departments.
Identify Best Practices and Programs
• Assess current programs, speakers, etc. currently in use.
• Identify faculty or academic programs that may fit the needs of student-athletes.
Establish time-line and set goals for Leadership Council
• The Leadership Council must be aware and involved in all aspects of development of the program.

Phase II

Coaches Retreat

• Introduce program to coaches and conduct a "needs assessment" as each team has different dynamics, schedules, etc. Also, begin to educate coaches on the generation they are inheriting (e.g. how millennials differ from generation Y and how that may impact how they respond to instruction). This is also a time for coaches to request specific programming for their team.

Life Skills Staff Retreat

• No matter how big or small this group, it's important that they be on the same page with regard to how the program is managed on a daily basis.

Address Compliance Issues

• Special programs may need approval from the institution or the NCAA. Programs that are especially innovative and have the best of intentions are also subject to approval as to ensure they do not compromise the eligibility of the student-athlete or institutional integrity.

Develop Student-Athlete Handbook

• This is a comprehensive list of all services and programs available to student-athletes provided by the athletics department and larger institution. Included are all rules, guidelines and other information to help student-athletes understand and navigate the expectations as citizens of the institution.

Phase III

Student-Athlete Orientation

• This is a time for student-athletes to be meet each other, introduced campus officials/programs and learn about LSC.

Leadership Training

• Selected student-athletes will begin leadership training that will enable them to be presenters within their respective teams and ultimately serve as mentors for incoming students.

Phase IV

Mentoring Training

• Training begins for current student-athletes to serve as mentors to incoming student-athletes. This is the most comprehensive section of LSC and it includes outside speakers/trainers on specific areas (i.e alcohol, violence, etc.). Mentors will serve on the Leadership Council and take part in Orientation and help facilitate the training of future mentors.

Phase V

Assessment and Update

The program is only as good as the current information available. LSC should be constantly monitored and evaluated for effectiveness, veracity and understanding of the reality and needs of today's student-athlete.


© 2012 Don Mcpherson Enterprises LLC.