**image includes current Prairie High School Boys Rugby Leadership Team**
The Rugby Oregon High School Leadership Academy is an annual one-day event on the adidas America campus designed to improve decision making skills, increase sportsmanship, self-efficacy, and enhance confidence. In the afternoon the attendees run through an Intro to Reffing course to provide our team leaders with a greater understanding of the Game, the Laws, and the role of the referee in an effort to improve Game day experiences.
Presenters are historically successful rugby leaders from around the country. This year's Academy included USA Women's National Team Captain, Tiffany Faaee, World Rugby Referee and USA Rugby Director, Kurt Weaver, and former USA Rugby Men's Eagle, OSU Head Coach and former Rugby Oregon Development Director, Troy Hall. Former presenters include USA Men's and Women's National Team Head Coaches, USA Mens' and Womens' National Team Captains and players and top-level referees.
Our goal is to provide an opportunity for nominated players from every Rugby Oregon team to work with and learn from some of the top rugby leaders in the world on honing their leadership style and skills both on and off the rugby pitch. We recognize that some of our athletes may never play rugby again after high school, but they will go out into the world where they can continue to practice those leadership skills in their local communities.
We wanted to know more about how teams are capitalizing on this experience. Prairie High School Boys Rugby Head Coach, John Fletcher, shared what they are doing at the local level to continue to foster the work that begins with the annual academy. Below he takes us through that process.
"We (Prairie) wanted to capitalize on the players enthusiasm and energy after attending the Rugby Oregon Leadership Academy. We had done a very average job of building on the skills & tools they learn at the Academy. We talk to the attendees after and they are bouncing off the walls with ideas and a real willingness to bring these new skills to the whole team. We generally have at least 4 current players who have been through the Academy as part of our team.
With little or zero follow up from coaches, we realized we were missing an opportunity to allow these players to implement their leadership skills with-in the team environment. This season we asked the team to attend a meeting to start a leadership group. We did not to want to tag it onto the end of a practice. We made it an event solely to form a group of leaders from our team.
We had 12 players attend and they were very clear that they all wanted to create a better culture within the team. They were positive and honest about what they could bring to the team and what they didn’t like. It was very cool to see the players express themselves and it told us more about the team dynamics that we were aware of.
If practices start to get sideways (and they can) we can whistle in the group, address our concerns and tell them to take it back to their teammates. We addressed the group before our most recent match and they ran the pre-match preparation. It went really well and gives the players real ownership.
This is a work in progress and we are still learning and figuring out how we can make this work effectively but it has been a great start. We did not limit to the size of the group. Others can join anytime and others can slide out if they want.
This is the best solution we have to keep the attendees from the Academy engaged and provide the wider group an opportunity to work together."
Nice work Prairie! And THANK YOU to Head Coach John Fletcher for sharing his story. If you have a great story to tell about your community, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.