Dear Athlete Leaders and Mentors,
Athlete Leadership has been a part of SOPA for nearly 35 years. In the nearly 10 years I have been working here, we had gone through a lot of changes together, most of which I hope you agree were for the better. At the end of last year, I had the chance to visit many parts of the state that I previously had never visited. I got a chance to meet with some Athlete Leaders, Mentors and regional staff to not only discuss how they can best work together as their regions begin to take shape, but also help me better understand what I can be doing to better support you based on what you have to work with within your local programs and regions.
Before I talk further about the new expectations for all Athlete Leaders post-training, I want to give a big thank you to the Athlete Leaders and Mentors that took part in a focus group back in January and those that provided feedback via phone/email that couldn't attend. Based on your feedback, my personal observations and observations from other SOPA staff/volunteers, I wanted to share with you the new expectations for all Athlete Leaders.
Please see the following which includes:
Leadership Opportunities (the new word for “practicum”) Athlete Representatives, Global Messengers and Health and Fitness Coordinators are expected to complete. Also included within are:
Links to submit Leadership Opportunities via a Google form and links to Google spreadsheets to see not only what you have submitted, but gain inspiration from others and better hold ourselves accountable.
Links to additional resources that are also on the Athlete Leadership tab of the SOPA website.
For any Athlete Leader that submitted Leadership Opportunities through the online portal, I plan on spending some time after Summer Games to go through what you had previously submitted. Even if it doesn't reflect the new Leadership Opportunities listed, they will still count since that was what you were asked to do at the time you were trained. Based on what you submitted, I will then determine what this means for you in the remainder of your submission requirements.
The last and most important piece of information to share is that starting this year, SOPA will be moving away from a graduation ceremony in favor of frequent recognition for completion of 6 Leadership Opportunities. This will also include special recognition for every 5 times you complete 6 Leadership Opportunities. More information on this will also come post-Summer Games, but what I'll say for now is that all recognition will take place locally to allow your fellow athletes, coaches and families to also be a part of the celebration. The main purpose behind this more than anything is to keep you motivated to stay active as an Athlete Leader for as long as you're willing and able.
I understand many of you will still have questions, so I'm happy to take time and answer them. This information will be shared in our upcoming Athlete Leadership University sessions.
Jordan C Schubert
Manager of Athlete Leadership & Young Athletes
Special Olympics Pennsylvania
610-630-9450 ext. 236