Jackson Tigers: Leadership Week
Every year, our roster is made up of kids from all over the city - as many as SIX primary schools. The bulk of our players come from five neighborhoods - Rum Village, Lincolnway West, Monroe Circle, and the Scottsdale and Gilmer Park areas. While our players from the Southside (Scottsdale & Gilmer Park) are from our "neighborhood", our Lincolnway, Monroe Circle, and Rum Village players are just as much a part of our school community and our Tiger family.
The average student only spends about 12% of their time during middle school actually being in middle school! It is often difficult for the average 12- or 13-year-old to understand what it means to be part of a community that they only see for 12% of their life. By creating our Leadership Week, we decided to ensure that not only do our football players feel like they belong in our school community, but actually TAKE OWNERSHIP of their place in our Tiger Family!
During Leadership Week, our players are tasked with a community service project. Last year, we had two parts - clean and paint our storage garage and begin creating a flower bed at the edge of the parking lot, near the visitors' ticket gate of the Varsity Field. Our goal was for the players to take a leadership role in beautifying our school while allowing them to provide a direct benefit for their team.
This year, keeping with that theme, we are hoping to expand our flowerbed project to more areas near our practice field and add a mural of our logo to the garage. Expanding our flowerbeds will increase our school's overall appearance, especially to visitors, and both projects will help grow pride in our program and school for our players.
In addition, we spend time teaching true Leadership Skills by rotating work groups and working 1-on-1 with players to develop both the ability to effectively lead and the ability to effectively follow good leadership, while learning problem-solving skills and real-life skills that will last them a lifetime. Great examples of leadership are set when former players come by to work on the projects, including players from all of the area high schools and players that have gone on to bigger and better things! It is during this time that our team captains are chosen – more through their own actions than any conscious decisions by coaches or players.
But…Leadership Week isn’t all work! We spend a little more than 2 hours working each day on our projects before we kick back and have fun playing ball. (Seriously, what else did you think we’d do for fun?) No drills, no coaching, just kids being kids having fun with the games they love – and not all football. Our rec period during Leadership Week often includes flag football games, 3-on-3 basketball, dodgeball, tag, sharks-and-minnows, relay races, etc. Players, coaches, and former players all take part in what is usually the highlight of the day after a good day of service.
On the last day of Leadership Week, usually a Friday (this year July 31) our players host “Family Night”. Family Night is an opportunity for all of our players, coaches, and their families to gather together for one last summer cookout before Training Camp begins and we start looking forward to the school year. More than that, though, it is an opportunity for our families to meet and get to know each other as more than just fans of the same team. The whole idea of Leadership Week is to build a sense of family within our team and school, and this is the culminating event of the week.
The result of Leadership Week is 100% measureable. Our coaching staff is heading into it’s 6th season. During our first five seasons, we’ve seen the following:
· Honor Roll achievement for football players increased from about 20% of players during the season and 15% all year to a whopping 70% on each and every report card!
· Office referrals for discipline have declined from about 20 or so per school year to ZERO in 2014-2015!!!
· We have increased attendance, decreased tardies, increased our players’ participation in other sports – especially wrestling and track, and increased our players’ participation in academic programs.