Leveraging Student-Athlete Development Through Technology
Creator: Justin Lafleur, Lehigh Sports Communications
While the past 18 months have seen a great deal of change and uncertainty in college sports, Lehigh Athletics stands firm in its commitment to developing student athletes and continues to find opportunities to learn, grow and lead.
This year, Lehigh Athletics is excited to leverage the strength of its High Performance Development Team through a variety of technology platforms. Two of these companies that the department will work with, The Zone and GamePlan (which recently merged with InXAthlete), are founded by former student athletes. Both promote individual responsibility for learning and growth, a central tenet of the Lehigh Athletics development framework.
While these platforms can make learning more accessible, technology will not replace personal leadership development. In fact, it should allow for greater depth of personal learning.
“We believe in our approach to student-athlete development and are excited to support the day-to-day efforts of our staff and coaches with technology that can enhance the breadth and depth of our work with student-athletes,” said Director of Athletics Leadership Development Julie Ammary.
“Ownership is key to our development model,” she continued. “When student-athletes take responsibility for being their best, and when they learn to think independently, identify resources and actions that support their intended growth (for the benefit of the team), they appear more competent, confident, and inspiring You helping others to do the same …
“That is transformative leadership.”
There are many different ways to demonstrate and practice leadership and Lehigh Athletics intends to provide the guidance and framework to help student-athletes reach their potential to make a difference. The growth process begins with a strong self-image and strong leadership, followed by the recognition and appreciation of others (“self and other”). It then develops into the ability to collaborate with others (“yourself with others”) and ultimately leads to servant leadership (“yourself for others”).
Different student-athletes will perform in different ways over the course of their careers, and that’s fine. Lehigh Athletics employees work to maximize the leadership potential of student athletes, which is not only beneficial for athletics. Most importantly, it prepares them for a lifelong leadership role after graduation.
How does growth come about?
By nature, Lehigh student-athletes have experiential learning opportunities in four cornerstone areas: intellectual development, physical development, social development, and mental / emotional / psychological development. This learning takes place both inside and outside of their sport.
Through these experiences, Lehigh Athletics promotes learning and growth in the five pillars of athletics leadership: self-awareness, integrity, competitiveness, tenacity and a team-first mentality (which were carefully identified by the coaches through a collaborative process to create “leadership effectiveness” define. ).
The essence of the model is summed up in the slogan “Better Me, Better We”.
Lehigh Athletics is a pioneer in the field of leadership development, but is not satisfied with a common language and understanding. The partnerships with Game Plan and The Zone are ways to leverage technology, meet the student-athletes where they are (in a tech-rich word), and inspire actions that make a difference.
Game Plan will develop digestible educational content primarily within Lehigh’s “Social Cornerstone” (social justice and inclusion, hate speech prevention, healthy relationships, etc.) Psychological Cornerstone “area (through things like a mood tracker).
By giving them opportunities to learn, reflect, evaluate and plan, they can advance their own development journey and invite others to join.
“Our athletes have additional educational and reflective resources available to help them engage them in ways they are comfortable with,” said Murray H. Goodman Athletics Dean Joe Sterrett. “We are excited about the opportunities that arise from these partnerships.”
As stated by Cait Gillard, Assistant Director for Athletics Leadership Development, self-awareness is the foundation of student athlete development.
“We believe that the technological support we can offer through these platforms will enable our students to design and customize their trips,” she said.
Just think of these new technologies as an improvement on what has already been done and connect with student athletes in even more meaningful ways.
“The Zone uses mobile technology to enable students to take care of their well-being and personal development in a way that fits seamlessly into their daily lives,” said Julie Oltman, Assistant Director of Technology. “We essentially have a life coach in our pocket who can provide guidance or resources the moment it’s needed.”
Head softball coach Fran Trojan monitors bank accounts, medical records, sleep rest and mental fitness from his cell phone.
“If I do that, our student athletes will use even more technology platforms,” he said. “The more we student-athletes can meet where they are, the better we can serve them, the better they can help themselves, and the better off we are all.
“Technology platforms for student and athlete development are a must if we are to truly embrace Better Me, Better We.”