Character-building programs net positive reviews across MCPS athletic departments

January 14, 2019

Athletic departments across MCPS are reporting positive results after introducing programs including “Lead ‘Em Up,” “Three Dimensional Coaching” and “Positive Coaching Alliance,” which are designed to teach athletes and coaches about leadership and healthy relationships.

The varsity and junior varsity football teams at Northwest, Richard Montgomery, Springbrook and Blair High Schools adopted a national program called “Coaching Boys Into Men,” which emphasizes the message “violence does not equal strength.”

In “Coaching Boys into Men,” student-athletes first take a pledge to commit to healthy and respectful relationships. Coaches lead 10- to 15-minute weekly discussions about consent and communication, program coordinator Donna Rismiller said. In a report about the program, an RM football player said he noticed positive changes.

“I’ve noticed the coaches definitely changing their language around this season to be more respectful both towards women and the players,” he said in the report. “I think the players as a whole have a more nuanced view on the issues of domestic violence and relationships with females in general.”

It’s up to specific schools’ athletic departments and individual teams to decide if they want to adopt the programs, but the Montgomery County Council of PTAs is urging all MCPS middle and high school athletic departments to do so.

“We certainly want them supporting our core values of athletics and pushing the message that our student athletes are character-driven and that they’re role models in the school,” MCPS athletic director Jeff Sullivan said. “These programs enhance the message in various ways.”

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