Iowa Rush Board Member and former U9-U10 Academy Coach Katie Overberg had the exceptional opportunity to serve on staff this summer at the Julie Foudy Sport Leadership Academy. Below are her observations of the camp and the value it can bring to young female athletes.
Last year I introduced many in Iowa to the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy after my daughter won a community service contest sponsored by the organization. My daughter continues to wait patiently until 2015 when finally she will be old enough to attend the Academy. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to wait.
Julie Foudy is a genuine and generous woman. Once you enter her life, you are fortunate to join the team of truly giving people with whom she associates herself. She and I kept in touch last year and when I asked if I could help out with her Academy, she immediately made it happen. Last month I spent six days with the remarkable staff and students at the Chicago Academy. Seeing it in person and being a part of something so powerful was more than I could have imagined.
The curriculum – both soccer and leadership – emboldens girls age 12-18 to find their voice and choose to make a difference by becoming leaders on their team and in their school or community. The transfer of knowledge and guidance between the soccer and leadership sessions made for a commanding experience for everyone. Through daily leadership classes the students worked on public speaking skills, performed community service, and participated in fun and enlightening team building exercises and discussions. On top of that, the staff worked with each student to develop a service project to implement in her community. Other than the obvious benefit of trying to improve her community, each student practices valuable skills as she works to organize her time and resources in completing the project once she leaves campus.
The staff includes college coaches and players as well as a current or former member of the United States Women’s National Team, making the soccer sessions tailored and relevant while maintaining ratios that invite personal attention. The twice-daily soccer sessions were comprehensive, challenging, and energetic, culminating in a world cup tournament on the final day. The optional college preparation sessions provided an opportunity for the students to work out with college coaches while also arming them with practical tools for initiating and participating in the college search process.
Every member of the staff buys in to the leadership experience and has unique skills and experiences to guide the students forward in both the classroom and soccer sessions. The students are able to take away so many positive ideas and constructive skills from this experience that it is no wonder they come from the Midwest and across the country year after year. From the students’ comments on the evaluations or their parents’ e-mails, it is clear that those who attend the Academy are getting the message and, more importantly, living it.
Find more information on the JFSLA webpage and Facebook page, including pictures and testimonials from students and parents. www.Juliefoudyleadership.com and www.facebook.com/JFoudySLA