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South Jordan Journal

Bingham High cultivating student-athletes with ‘Desire to Lead’

Nov 22, 2021 02:15PM ● By Julie Slama

As part of the Desire to Lead program, Bingham student-leaders bring boxed breakfasts to local police officers and firefighters, showing their appreciation for their service. (Photo courtesy of Bingham High athletic department)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Charity Drake has a goal of finding a couple things to improve daily to reach her “Promise land.”

They may not be world-shattering discoveries, but rather putting a smile on her face to share positivity around her school, Bingham High.

“Everyone is picking up on the vibe,” she said. “It’s making the feeling spread.”

The high school junior learned leadership skills last spring when she and 10 other Bingham student-athletes participated in the eight-week Desire to Lead training with other high school student-athletes worldwide over Zoom.  

“We learned how to be better leaders, how to respect each other and how to grow ourselves and our own goals,” she said.

As a member of the softball team, Drake has the mindset of “do my best and I’ll get better” each day in her sport, academics and life.

“With softball, I choose to have that mindset and practice each day with it,” Drake said. “Not only do I get better, but my teammates get better.”

Bingham Athletic Director Andee Bouwhuis and girls’ basketball coach Skyler Beard join student-athletes in the training program.  Desire to Lead is a nationally recognized online program led by sports performance and leadership development coach Jeremy Boone. The program is targeted toward high school student-athletes who were chosen based on their  coaches’ recommendations and aims to teach them to become leaders on the team.

“We hold a coaches’ meeting and ask for recommendations of who they see are natural leaders and have a potential voice to speak up, not necessarily the ones who already were demonstrating those qualities,” Bouwhuis said. “Last year, we started with sophomores and juniors, so we’d have two years to work with them in this role. It allows the kids to have the benefit of this leadership training and have an impact in our building before they compete in collegiate sports and in the working world.”

The program‘s training outlines how leadership can be used in every aspect of life, how to make better decisions that will get better results, how to speak with more impact and influence, how to build trust, why a mindset of “beyond winning” is needed, how to have conversations with teammates, coaches and family, and more.

Currently a second wave of 11 Bingham student-athletes are taking the one-hour per week training, along with 24 other schools throughout the United States and Canada.

“Besides the training, we have a connection point where we’re able to talk to others to bounce ideas off each other. We’ve learned about COVID restrictions where they are and how it’s working with athletics and we’ve talked to other schools about how to build programs and culture with coach and player turnover, something which is a different perspective than many of these students experience playing and growing up with the same kids,” Bouwhuis said. ”It has given them a lot of empathy.”

Bouwhuis said the goal is to have representatives from every athletic program at the school participate in the online training. At this point, she said she’s just missing three UHSAA-sanctioned sports: cross country, boys’ golf and drill, which she hopes will be represented in the spring training. 

The program is free to Bingham students as the school applies and has received a $2,500 scholarship each time to cover the training, she said.

The idea is for these student-athletes not only to be leaders on their team or in the classroom, but also in the community, Bouwhuis said.

Beard said that the program “has been huge at our school and the buy-in of our students. Every year our team adopts a theme and this year it’s ‘raise the standard’ where we don’t cut corners. When we can show how we work hard and appreciate those around us, especially after this last year of COVID when we had an empty gym or stadium, we can set the example and be leaders for our school and our community.”

For example, in September, the Desire to Lead group delivered breakfast platters and Bingham athletic gear to the South Jordan Police department along with Fire Station 61, 62 and 63 as a thank you for all they do for Bingham athletics and the community. 

In October, as part of their monthly meetings, they gathered to discuss their goals and the group’s next service project, which will be a canned food drive.  The items gathered by the teams between Nov. 1 and Nov. 15 will be earmarked for the school pantry and the Utah Food Bank.

Bouwhuis said that in the months since the first wave completed their training, and now with the second cohort, “I’m seeing the difference in our programs and how students are supporting each other and leaders are stepping up in practice. Parents are saying they’re seeing their kids be more respectful.”

One part of the training asks student-athletes to set aside 1% of their day, about 15 minutes, to improve one aspect of their lives. Bouwhuis said that it could be how they could improve their agility or their swing or it could apply to another aspect of their life, such as improving study habits or making an impact in their community. 

“We ask that they make that 15-minute commitment for six weeks and what we’re noticing is that it becomes a habit and often times, they extend that time,” she said. 

Junior Shaye Anderson said her 1% goal is to become more positive and try her best.

“If I try my best with a positive attitude every day for at least 15 minutes, then my team will be better,” said the Bingham swimmer, adding that she’s already brought that attitude to her club team. “I can be positive when we’re on the wall, telling them ‘You got this.’”

Anderson said that through hard work to improve herself, she’s not only contributing to the attitude and success of the team, but also being a leader amongst her peers.

“Every day if we’re working hard and having a positive attitude, it will spread and others will look to you for leadership,” she said. “We’ll bond and have more fun and want to be there, doing our best, and having more success because of our commitment.”

Senior Jocelyn Ordyna, who plays center on the basketball team and competes in field events with track, said her 1% is doing sprint workouts that will help her speed on the court. 

“The 15 minutes can be anything – academics, social, spiritual – to help us grow as a complete person so we can become leaders on our teams and at our school,” she said.

Ordyna said she’s naturally shy and passive in her leadership style, but she hopes that she can lead by example.

“When we focus on others, whether it’s to show our gratitude or giving up the ball to a teammate who has a better shot, we’re having an impact and supporting others,” she said. “Even cheering while being on the bench, then I know I’m doing as much as I can to encourage others. It doesn’t matter at the end of the game if I have zero points and zero blocks, if I’m setting screens, taking charges and doing the things that are helping my team and bringing energy to my team.”

Another lasting point she learned through the training is to be courageous as a leader.

“Take basketball, maybe someone doesn’t have the confidence in her shot, but does she have the courage to take it?” she said. “A player can be afraid, saying she still needs to develop her skills to take a shot on the court, but if she has the courage, whether it falls or not, then she is becoming a leader and likely courage is all she needs because she already has been practicing her shooting. When we have more players being courageous, then Bingham will have more leaders – and not just on the court, but also in our community.”