Ask a kid to name a role model, and chances are high he or she will name an athlete -- hopefully one with a positive moral character. Because even high school athletes are likely to influence children, on March 27 and 28 the Kansas Youth Leadership Academy will begin a new initiative to foster the leadership skills athletes demonstrate.
The program, "Leadership On and Off the Field: Leadership Development for the Student Athlete," is a two-day youth conference -- sponsored by Sunflower Bank -- that aims to instruct student athletes on how to transfer their leadership skills from the field to the classroom and to other areas of their lives.
Bill Snyder, former Kansas State University head football coach, will serve as one of three conference speakers.
"Some of these athletes are unaware that they're already demonstrating exemplary leadership skills," said Cathie Klein, director of KYLA. "Our goal is to help them transfer these skills from their given sports arenas to the other areas of their lives."
The first day begins with registration at 1 p.m. The conference is from 2:30 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27, and from 8:30 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 28, at the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame Museum, 238 Meade, in Wichita.
The conference is split into several 75-minute sessions. Each session includes hands-on application and discussion centering on five basic themes: leadership concepts and skills, competition and sportsmanship, team dynamics, character development, and active citizenship.
Speakers include Bob Anastas, founder and former executive director of Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD), and Will Baker, a business executive for Target Corporation and former baseball player for Mesa State College in Colorado.
"Young athletes have a natural drive and instinct to compete and succeed," said Kevin Weiberg, Big 12 Conference commissioner. "However, sometimes they allow these instincts to be channeled in ways that are destructive to themselves and to others. So there is a need to develop positive attributes of leadership and character in athletes. I support efforts like 'Leadership On and Off the Field.' I applaud KYLA for its efforts in this important area."
The Kansas Youth Leadership Academy is part of FHSU's Center for Civic Leadership.
Registration began Jan. 15 and continues through March 15. Space is limited. Cost of registration is $85 and includes all conference materials. Registration forms are available online at www.developingleaders.org. For more information, contact Klein at (785) 628-5399.