Coalers with Character

New program promotes positive qualities in student-athletes
Ann Gill

    When Brad Boresi isn’t coaching his own team, he can be found sitting in the stands or standing along the fence line supporting his students and favorite local sports teams. So when he observed student-athletes behaving in a manner that wasn’t quite acceptable he knew it was time to take action.
    “I was attending a non-school function at one of our schools and I was watching and saw how some of the student-athletes were acting and it was pretty disappointing to know that they learned these actions from some upper classmen. And I thought something needs to be done to improve the role models we’re setting for younger athletes,” Boresi said.
    When he got home that night he e-mailed his observations and thoughts to the superintendent and began brainstorming ideas on how to promote positive characteristics and qualities in student-athletes.
    “One of the biggest things with athletes at the middle school level or the high school level in our eyes is there is more expected of them than just going out there and playing sports. They have responsibilities on the field, off the field, in the classroom and in the public eye,” Boresi said.
    As a teacher, coach and sports fan, Boresi knows people—young and old—look up to athletes be it a high school wrestler, college basketball player or NFL quarterback.
    Boresi shared his thoughts with fellow Unit 1 faculty member and coach, Corey Mikula, who wanted to help put those thoughts into a program to improve the leadership and character traits of the district’s student-athletes.
    “So we decided to put our heads together to think how we could create an athletic leadership program that benefits students at our high school and trickles down to help the kids in middle school,” Boresi said.
    What they came up with was Coalers with Character, a summer- and school-based program aimed at instructing student-athletes in the areas of leadership, character and being a role model.
    “We will also be taking a look at how these traits factor into a student-athlete’s behavior during the off-season, during the school year and when in public,” Boresi said.
    The program is open to student-athletes who will be enrolled at the high school during the 2018-2019 school year and can commit to participating in a series of summer sessions, as well as attend three meetings during the school year.
    “It is going to be a collection of athletic leaders embracing the responsibilities of sports, it’s going to be a group of high school athletes that are willing to take on all the extra responsibilities other than showing up and playing each day,” Boresi said as he outlined the program to the Unit 1 Board of Education at its May meeting.
    In developing a curriculum, Boresi reports he and Mikula want to highlight some particular characteristic, such as integrity and accountability while providing students with a method to increase their leadership skills both on and off the playing field.
    I am and I know the high school and middle school are extremely excited about this program and it’s exciting to see two staff members who are going to volunteer so much time to work with our kids,” said Unit 1 Superintendent Dr. Kent Bugg.
    The initial Coalers with Character program is set to kick off on Monday, June 4. The 90-minute session will focus on what the program is all about and what the student-athletes will be working on in the months to come.
    Participants will meet on the first and second Mondays in June and July from noon to 1:30 p.m. Topics will vary by session and guest speakers and coaches will take part.
    Boresi explained each session will focus a different subject for which student-athletes will learn the appropriate behavior characteristics to display at those times are.
    “When I walk into the weight room at the high school I should not have to tell the athletes in there, ‘hey we need to change that music,’ it should be something that’s just expected at all times. Or when then are in the public eye, whether it’s at a non-school related event, uptown at the local grocery store or wherever they are what the acceptable behavior should be,” Boresi said.
    The summer sessions will be followed by post season meetings—November, March and May—to recap how the program is going.
    “Once we develop and get these high school kids through the program we would like to take them to the middle school level and pass some of this (information) on to get it to a younger level,” Boresi said.
    Participation is currently open to high school athletes. They just need to complete a brief questionnaire (available in the high school and middle school front offices) and obtain a recommendation from a coach.
    In the future the program could be opened to middle school students or possibly be considered as a mandatory course for incoming high school athletes so they understand what it means to be a Coaler.
    “I’m really excited to get this rolling. Overall, I think it’s something that will help all student-athletes and even more so those who are looking to go on and continue their athletic careers in college,” Boresi said.