Elevating the culture

Athletic Academy builds a new foundation of school representation


Photo by Lance Smith

The Athletic Leadership academy meets once every month to build upon their goal to elevate the culture. During these sessions, various companies including STRIV visit to help work on leadership skills.

Jasmine Hermosillo-Padilla, Editor-in-Chief Catalyst Online

The beginning of the school year is still upon us which means new classes, clubs and even the start of a fresh season for the sports teams. However, in the eyes of some athletes, it means new opportunities to make a difference in their own school. 

Just two years ago, the Athletic Director, Lance Smith started the Athletic Leadership Academy with the help of some athletes. He saw this as a way to permeate the strong culture and reputation that was needed on and off school grounds. This academy was created as a way to be able to spread leadership throughout the building and pass these skills down to younger grades. 

“I wanted a core group of kids here at West to help with this group,” Smith said. “ Students in athletics generally have pretty good influence on other people in school, I have noticed that they know a lot of people which helps with the reach of information, and they are very prominent as far as being in front of crowds. If we can start with them to help build this culture, it will spread to the rest. I want them to take what they learn from their sessions back to their teams and implement them.”

The club consists of two to four members from each athletic team. In past years, coaches were asked for names of members on their teams that had the qualities that could be a good addition to the group. Since then, the process has been similar, but with the help of returners also suggesting new athletes, this gave Smith another way to recruit new members for years ahead.

“Although this is my first year in the academy, I am grateful for the opportunity” senior football player James Conway said. “I have learned how to influence others and lead by example.”

The group meets once a month to discuss various topics such as posting on social media, how to communicate effectively and how to overcome failure. During these meetings, the students work towards their overall goals. For this year, various teams talking and working together to create a more schoolwide feeling between sports has been a huge focus. A season sentence, which is a phrase that represents the theme that will be built on throughout the year was put in place. “Elevate the culture” was chosen to represent what they wanted to get out of the year.

Various companies including STRIV, Humanex and Open Doors have partnered with the students to show different presentations on how to set a foundation for others to look up to. 

With these lessons, students can take away many different teachings and ways to spread their new findings to their classmates.

“My favorite aspect of this academy is being able to positively influence my fellow students,” senior dance team member Madeline Unger said. “I want to be able to leave my mark at Millard West after I graduate this year.”

The club hopes to continue to build leadership skills of individuals to be able to share with their teams while emphasizing their season sentence of elevating the culture. With the lessons each month, their knowledge will be passed down to the younger classes so that they can continue to spread their education for years to come.

This is a picture created by Lance Smith to create awareness of what the academy is all about. Here it shows multiple members of the clubs proudly representing their sport including Delaney Richardson and Sadie Millard.
( by Lance Smith )