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Professional Development

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Dear Nick Saban: Can I share our NAA Core Competencies with you?

Friday, 06 December 2013 00:00

Let me begin by saying that for those of you who don’t know me I am a HUGE football fan!  I am an especially huge college football fan AND the team I have followed since I was a child is the University of Alabama.


My parents grew up in Alabama, my father graduated from the University of Alabama and I attended high school and college in the state. But it goes deeper than just that. I was eleven years old, living with my family in New Jersey and at a party with my parents when we saw the famous (in Alabama anyway!) “goal line stand” that propelled the Crimson Tide to a national championship over Penn State in the 1979 Sugar Bowl.  (Note: New Jersey is very close to Pennsylvania.  We were the ONLY Alabama fans at the party).  My entire nineth grade science class at New Brockton High School watched the televised funeral of Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant in January 1983. For one date in high school I saw the movie “The Bear” starring Gary Busey IN A MOVIE THEATER. I could go on and on but I think you get the picture–my Roll Tide loyalty is bona fide.

So, of course I was really heartbroken (devastated, stunned, in total disbelief) at the end of Saturday’s Iron Bowl game against Auburn. But, what made me even sadder was Coach Saban’s post-game press conference where he spent much of the time being defensive and dismissive, rather than offering any public support for or encouragement to the young men on his team. Stuart Stevens captured well the litany of inadequate comments offered by Saban about the game and his players.  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/12/02/alabama-coach-nick-saban-s-folly-great-coaches-protect-their-players.html

I’m going to go out on a limb and say I believe college football is the highest profile form of youth development out there. (I suspect it’s likely the highest paid form of youth development, too–but I don’t have any hard statistics to back that up). While the young men on the teams we love to watch have achieved a level of athletic ability that has propelled them into an upper stratosphere of performance and exposure, they are still just kids–teens, really. They need youth development leaders (read: coaches) who understand and practice positive youth development principlesprinciples embodied in our NAA Core Competencies

With ten content areas focusing on topics like Child/Youth Growth and Development, Interactions with Youth and even Safety and Wellness there’s a lot there that is entirely relevant to the work of our colleagues in the college coaching profession.  As afterschool and youth development professionals, we use these competencies as our benchmarks for achieving the highest level of professional service delivery that we can. I offer that anyone involved in sports coaching–from Pop Warner to NCAA–check them out. We’re happy to let you know how to apply these afterschool principles to the work you do.

And, Coach Saban–sorry about Saturday’s loss. But, it looks like you might have some free time after the Orange Bowl. Would you like to join us in March at our annual convention in New York City? We have some workshops designed just for you!

P.S. Roll Tide Roll!