Activities are integral to the high school experience for students, families, and local communities. They can often be the most rewarding and exciting parts of high school, creating a foundation for competition, socialization, and teamwork, as young people get involved with athletics, performing arts, and other interscholastic programs. These activities wouldn’t be possible without the dedicated people who work tirelessly to organize, manage, and promote them for students.
Throughout October, the NFHS and its member associations are celebrating High School Activities Month. This week is dedicated to coaches, advisors, officials, and sponsors, who all play major roles in ensuring the continued success of school activities. We wanted to take a moment to highlight these essential leaders and show our appreciation for all that they do to create meaningful opportunities and experiences for students nationwide.
In a recent blog, we explored how school activities provide 7 key lessons for students, including leadership, teamwork, respect, sportsmanship, education, competition, and mentorship. Today, let’s reflect on how coaches, advisors, officials, and sponsors uphold these values and support student activities.
Coaches - Mentors and More on Every Field and Court
High school coaches do more than just motivate student-athletes to succeed. A great coach embodies all seven lessons from high school activities during the course of a season. Beyond teaching students ways to improve their athletic skills, coaches can help students build self-confidence, identify their strengths, hold themselves accountable, support their teammates, and more.
7 Values That Great Coaches Instill with High School Activities
Activities provide opportunities for students to assume leadership roles and take on increasing levels of responsibility. Coaches offer guidance to their students while helping them to become leaders themselves. A good coach also leads by example and holds students accountable regardless of the circumstances. For example, when a team loses, the coach can use the loss to teach a lesson on humility. He or she can view it as an opportunity to refine their strategy and prepare for when the same teams meet later in the season.
Coaches encourage athletes to work together. Simply passing the ball five times on a possession in basketball indicates the value of teamwork on athletic teams, especially when it results in a score or baffles an opponent’s defense. Coaches understand the importance of working together to achieve a common goal, and their students can benefit from this mindset within their school activities and other areas of life.
The best coaches teach players to respect opponents, officials, and teammates in actions and in words. They don’t belittle others. They don’t talk trash. They prepare appropriately for the opponent. And more. Good coaches also hold themselves to high standards and refrain from taunting opponents or arguing with officials.
Among other actions, a good coach demonstrates sportsmanship by shaking the opponent’s hand in victory and in defeat. Coaches also teach their students to be considerate of others and to conduct themselves properly no matter what. Students can learn to demonstrate sportsmanship in other areas of their personal lives long after graduation.
A good coach educates players on techniques and how to plan for opponents. Whether it’s running drills, learning new plays, analyzing game film, or reviewing the fundamentals, coaches are constantly teaching their players and equipping them with resources to succeed.
Coaches have the unique ability to see the strengths of every player and how they can be an asset to compete against an opponent. Friendly competition can bring out the best in players, especially when they have learned to thrive under pressure. Coaches can also teach players strategies to remain level-headed and focused when competing.
Good coaches can have a profound impact on students’ lives by being positive role models and serving as mentors. They can help empower students to navigate challenges and equip them with the intangible skills to overcome obstacles in all aspects of life.
Advisors - Partners on Campus
The term “advisor” can have different meanings on a high school campus. Academic advisors help students plan short-term and long-term educational goals. Generally, academic advisors help students evaluate their strengths and identify education and career paths that will result in fulfillment and success. They are the coaches of goal planning. Students work with advisors to stay on track with regard to grades and administrative procedures like completing applications for scholarships and college admissions. This is majorly important when kids are planning to apply to colleges and need to maintain a certain GPA or achieve specific scores on the SAT and ACT. An advisor can help students prepare for these important goals, monitor their progress, and reach their full potential.
Officials - Making Athletic Contests Possible
Athletic events simply cannot happen without officials. Students literally cannot play without the participation of sports referees at high school contests. And the job has gotten tougher. Officials are faced with many challenges, including unsportsmanlike behavior from parents, coaches, fans, and students. Unfortunately, people can be quick to blame officials for disappointing outcomes, especially when emotions are running high. Officials also have difficult working hours and must be present for warm-ups, actual competitions, and post-game responsibilities.
The pandemic also placed further stress upon officials, with approximately 50,000 individuals discontinuing their service after the 2018-19 season. There is currently a national shortage of officials nationwide, highlighting the importance of recruiting and retaining these vital leaders in school activities. Officials who continue to support student athletics deserve respect and appreciation. They are absolutely essential to the continued success of high school activities and should be celebrated.
If you or someone you know is interested in becoming an official and supporting school activities in your community, you can learn about the process and start an application by completing a short form.
Sponsors - Introducing Community Support and Financial Backing
Sponsors support student activities in a number of ways. First off, they get involved. Sponsors support communities by coming out to games, posting signs, promoting the games, and ultimately paying to help run the program in many cases. Sponsors are absolutely required to run athletic programs. In many cases, the better the sponsors, the better the program. Active sponsors can help engage the student body and deliver once-in-a-lifetime experiences for students on campus who participate in school athletics and activities.
4 Ways Sponsors Help Student Activities
- Community Engagement: Sponsors teach students what it means to give back and get involved.
- Student Engagement: Schools often get students involved with sponsor promotions. Sponsors offer contests and help organize events like “Blackout Nights,” where every student wears a black t-shirt, for example.
- Funding: Sponsors often provide funds to support athletic programs and pay for equipment, training camps, meals, and more.
- Commemoratives: Schools often feature sponsors on commemorative items as a way to promote the sponsors but also to create keepsakes for the participants with products like media guides and custom t-shirts.
Coaches, advisors, officials, and sponsors are often the unsung heroes of high school activities. We salute them for their steadfast commitment to making these invaluable experiences possible for students across the country.
To learn more about National High School Activities Month and how you can support your local school, visit NFHS.org or follow the NFHS on Twitter and Instagram at @nfhs_org.
The GoFan team will also be publishing more blogs and content throughout October to celebrate. You can stay up to date on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn at @GoFanHS or contact us for more information.