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Twin Cities School Investing In Student Athletes Via Leadership Program

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A high school is trying a new approach with sports captains to help them become better leaders.

St. Louis Park started advanced leadership training for all team captains. Orioles athletes go through an eight-week course designed to develop skills used on and off the field.

The high school hopes this helps teams today and individuals in the future.

Spring team captains meet an hour before the school day starts each week.

"At first I was a little nervous about it. I didn't really know what the expectations would be," said softball captain Megan Perkins. "We talk a lot about discipline and like commitment and having that accountability aspect."

But the captains quickly found the topics covered in class translate onto the practice field.

"I think we're learning a lot about how to like take your leadership and spread it to the rest of the team and be a leader that everybody can look up to," said softball captain Annabelle Schutte.

Megan Perkins St Louis Park Softball
(credit: CBS)

Kevin King with Premier Teambuilding Solutions leads the advanced leadership program.

"It's about developing leaders in the here and now for our captains [so they can] better lead their sport programs in the immediate, but also it's more about life skills," King said.

Athletic Director Andy Ewald took a chance on the program. He said the school gives student-athletes access to athletic trainers and strength programs. This was another way to enhance their experience.

"Our overriding theme for our department has always been 'building champions for life,' and this is right there part of that," Ewald said.

The spring captains represent baseball, lacrosse, track, softball and synchronized swimming. It started with fall captains going through the inaugural leadership program.

As a tri-team captain, Jonny Sorenson experienced it first during the football season.

"We kind of bought into the brotherhood sense of it, and Kevin really talked about focusing on the beliefs and just reinforcing them every day," Sorenson said.

The Orioles won their section and advanced to state, making it their first winning record in years.

"These kids are building character in these morning sessions, they're building character throughout practices," said head football coach Ben Wolfe. "When situations got tough, when it came down to the games on the line, our kids' character showed through, and I think this had a lot to do with it."

Ewald said the strength he has witnessed in captains -- and how it has benefited the athletes and teams -- makes it worth it.

"I just know that it's an investment in these … young athletes … that will pay off now and pay off for the future," Ewald said.

The captains meet on Thursday mornings. The school plans to keep the program going for years to come.

In a few days, next year's fall captains will start off-season leadership training, which was added at the request of coaches.

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