Play Like a Champion Conference to be Held June 26-28

Author: Arts and Letters

The Play Like a Champion (PLC) program will hold its fourth annual National Sports Leadership Conference at the University of Notre Dame from June 26 to 28 (Friday to Sunday).

Leaders of Catholic and other youth sports programs from dozens of cities in the United States and Canada will gather on the Notre Dame campus to learn how to run coach and parent workshops in their home dioceses, parishes, schools and local sports organizations. Educators, coaches, ethicists, professional athletes and theologians will lead discussions exploring the ways in which youth and high school sports can enhance the moral and spiritual growth of children and adolescents, offering an opportunity to learn the latest trends in sport-based character development and to network and share best practices with sports leaders across North America.

“The conference hopes to challenge toxic elements in the youth and high school sports culture that place winning and ego-centered success over the development of the whole person as a member of a team,” said PLC founder F. Clark Power, professor of psychology and education at Notre Dame.

This year’s conference sessions will address leadership development for coaches and administrators, ways to build moral community on sports teams, principles for integrating faith with the sports experience, how to develop partnerships with athletic parents, steps to help athletes achieve flow in sport, strategies for supporting coach education through public funding, and the latest insight into sports medicine and sports psychology.

Among the conference speakers will be baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson and faculty from Notre Dame’s PLC program and the Departments of Psychology, Theology and Athletics.

Sponsored by Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives, the PLC program is a partner with sports organizations requiring that all coaches complete a three-hour interactive workshop. More than 5,000 coaches have completed the workshop during the past three years and 90 percent of them have recommended it to their colleagues.

In order to become PLC partners, youth sport organizations must commit to guaranteeing substantial playing time to all children.

“We decided to dig our heels in, insisting that all children get meaningful playing time at least through the 8th grade,” Power said. “If we truly believe that sports are fun, build character and help children to develop psychologically as well as physically, how can we justify the inequities in playing time that we see at all levels and in all kinds of youth sports programs across the country?”

Originally published by Shannon Chapla at on June 10, 2009.