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World Sport Chicago | Dreams play here ™ Proud Partner | Community Olympic Development Program
Greetings Teachers!  

I hope you’ve had a relaxing summer full of wonderful experiences that have recharged you for the new school year. I’m excited to share with you that, with the help of our dedicated team of volunteer Athlete Ambassadors, we have a robust schedule of school visits and events planned in the coming months. While we may not be ready to start thinking about Back-to-School weather just yet, our September newsletter is full of things to help those eager to prepare.

I got into mentoring Chicago youth without much thought, almost by accident. After a few years away from competitive sports, I moved to Chicago and started running and competing in triathlon, and it didn’t take much to get me to coach and serve as a role model to young athletes and students.

My first encounter with mentoring at-risk youth came before my experience as WSC Athlete Ambassador. The journey began while teaching in rural Kenya, in 2009. This rewarding experience was formative in my thinking about the impact of sports and team-building exercises on the development and behavior of underserved children.

At the same time, I was challenged by what I saw. I asked myself, “How do I corral the energy of a dozen kids with varying ethnicities, attention spans, and temperaments in the environment where ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ still wields influence?” I found out that being positive with children builds trust, and thereby makes them pay attention, try harder, develop new skills, and be open to new ways of accomplishing their goals. A mentor who can have difficult conversations with kids, while remaining positive and optimistic, will be more likely to help them improve. A mentor who establishes a positive team culture will help young children develop a passion for their goals and be remembered by students long after they have moved on to their things.

I’ve learned from the experience that there is little in life as satisfying as being part of someone else’s success. Athlete Ambassadors are ideally positioned to be part of their students’ success. This vision is shared by a growing number of prominent athletes and coaches, who have served as WSC Athlete Ambassadors, including Alexe Young, Adam Pierson, Annie Sullivan, Brian Weisbecker, Carol Brown, Catherine Young, Christine Magnuson, Cindy Rusher, Gary Morgan, Khia Kurtenbach, Larry Langowski, Maggie Cornelius, Maggie Dobek, Michael McCahey, Pam Staton, Sarah Ames, Shannon Pohl, Steve Alley, Tyler Howard, and Tony Brooks, just to name a few.  Like on their respective playing fields, these dedicated volunteers have experienced almost every kind of situation one can imagine in the classroom.

Concentrating on the child’s character development, our mission is to prepare Chicago children to set their goals, and teach them life lessons through sports. The way I would like to approach our mission is what I call the #IWheel mentality. Using the wheel as a metaphor for goal-setting, the tire represents us as we go through our journey. Working inwards, the spokes, which connect the tire to the hub, represent short-term steps required to successfully reach a specific goal. The hub of the wheel, which represents our long-term specific goal, is a vital component to our future ride through life. Our Athlete Ambassadors will be using their own creative ways of translating their sport experience into engaging and understandable conversation on goal-setting with your students.

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World Sport Chicago is intended to support you and the Athlete Ambassadors to be the kind of role models who make a lifetime of difference.

Here are a few ways you can help extend the Athlete Ambassador movement:

  • WSC has multiple blog posts and book suggestions that go beyond the materials we cover in the classroom.
  • Tell others about WSC and the Athlete Ambassador Program. If you have friends and/or relatives involved with youth sports, refer them to WSC’s website.
  • Encourage community and sports organizations to partner with WSC.
Ambassador Spotlight  

Meet our new Athlete Ambassadors Veronica Skital, Howard Wilson, Japheth Cato, and John Gibson.

  • Triathlete Veronica Skital found the Athlete Ambassador opportunity when we celebrated the first class of WSC Scholars graduating from college this summer. “I love working with kids and am very outgoing. Academics and athletics are two of the most important things in my life, and I would love to pass my values down to young kids,” Skital said.Triathlon1
  • Howard Wilson, a blind retired U.S. Marine, was drawn to the Athlete Ambassador Program during our 5th annual Valor Games Midwest“The disability just opened up a new chapter in my life,” Wilson says. He says he is reinventing himself through sport, and hopes to qualify for the U.S. Paralympic judo team.20717673810_3b8eb9391e_o
  • Our work has also inspired Japheth Cato, who received a Track and Field scholarship at the University of Wisconsin. Cato, who believes that athletic success doesn’t come at the expense of academics, is preparing for the 2016 Olympic Games in decathlon. Cato
  • Last but not least, last week, I had an opportunity to meet John Gibson, 2005 Greco Roman 85kg Pan American Gold Medalist in wrestling, two time Dream team member, four time all American, five time Tennessee state champion (Amateur Athletic Union), and 2nd Senior USA Wrestling State champion. Born in Tennessee, Gibson, who has previous youth coaching and mentoring experience, is very new to Chicago, and he likes Pierogi. :)John_Gibson_Headshot

Thank you all for becoming a part of our Athlete Ambassador family!

Other Announcements & Requests  
  • A White Sox game is a great opportunity to meet other Ambassador School teachers and Athlete Ambassadors dedicated to our mission and a better future of Chicago. Please click here to see the game schedule and register for the free tickets.
  • The 2015 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final and World Championships is taking place in Chicago at the end of this week, September 15 – 19. Join me and over 3,000 other volunteers for the Tri-Festival and triathlon races. I will be there supporting Slovenian paratriathlete Alen Kobilica on Friday, and his guide Mitja Mori on Saturday, so let me know if you’re around.
  • Athlete Ambassador Tony Brooks is having his first school visit at Perez Elementary on Thursday, September 17 at 10:15 AM.

I hope the WSC Athlete Ambassador Program will enrich students’ lives and yours. Together let’s transform youth to all it should be in the lives of our Chicago youth,


Volunteer Swag  

Volunteer Swag

Volunteers for the 2015 ITU World Triathlong Grand Final Chicago and World Championships will receive unique swag.

There are many shift times and positions to choose from - learn more and sign-up today!

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