Everyone aspires to be a champion, but what does that mean?
Is it just about winning titles, celebratory dogpiles, and cutting nets? Or is there something more to being a champion?
I emphatically believe there is much more to being a champion.
When I got hired at Long Beach State this past year as the Student-Athlete Development Coordinator, one of my main objectives was to make sure our student-athletes were being set up for success.
My job is to help ensure our student-athletes have the skills they need not only to succeed in their years at LBSU, but also when they graduate and enter the world in their respective fields.
That’s why I was so excited to help get the Beachampion program off the ground. Giving student-athletes a set curriculum to positively impact their school and community is one of the most fulfilling ventures I’ve ever been fortunate enough to be a part of.
The definition of being a champion is about leaving a legacy. And that’s exactly what I want our student-athletes to have the opportunity to do.
Filling the gaps
The idea behind the Beachampion program came from our coaches, administrators, faculty representatives, and our student-athletes themselves. Essentially, we wanted to figure out where we might be missing the mark.
Are there gaps in their transition from high school to higher education?
Are they unprepared when they leave higher education and enter the world?
Are we setting them up for success when they have to retire from their respective sport?
These are the questions I needed to ponder. And more importantly, I needed to find the solutions to these questions and put them into a curriculum.
These are areas my role already foresees, but I set out to put these key areas into a comprehensive curriculum so that, ideally, each class will have their own curriculum to complete.
By leaving no student left behind, and giving every student a chance to cultivate growth and leadership skills in their years at LBSU, I wanted to fill in those transitional gaps.
The Beachampion program allows me to do just that. And to be proactive instead of reactive.
It’s one thing to acknowledge the problem. It’s another thing entirely to do something about it and take action.
And that’s my entire goal with the Beachampion program. I want to set our student-athletes up for a successful tomorrow and leave a positive impact on their community.
Leaving a legacy
From the first day as a freshman to the last day as a senior, college is a journey.
I spoke before about leaving a legacy, and for the current freshman class, we started out their Beachampion curriculum with a legacy event at the beginning of their journey.
At the event, there was food, games, and just an overall fun and relaxed environment to be a part of.
We also brought in guest speakers, alumni, donors, and others to help these first-year student-athletes understand what they have to look forward to.
What they wished they knew when they were first-year student-athletes themselves.
And the purpose of this event was to inform the student-athletes about what the LBSU athletic program looks like.
That their legacy starts now.
And I believe it really helped them see that they’re part of something much bigger than themselves. Yes, they’re all accomplished and successful individuals in their own right, but they’re also part of a much bigger family.
The Beachampion program obviously wasn’t around when these former student-athletes were here, so it was incredibly impactful to hear them share how this program could have helped them.
This event was a fantastic way to show the student-athletes that they’re not only at LBSU to try and win championships, but to go on a journey and leave a legacy that lasts longer than they ever imagined.
Building a community
I have to say one of the biggest takeaways for me in the early stages of the Beachampion program is the community-building.
Ever since the pandemic with Covid, and I’m sure this is true for many universities, I received quite a bit of feedback from student-athletes about them longing for a greater sense of community again.
With so many cancellations and social distancing requirements, for example, it was challenging to create these bonds through virtual environments.
I talked to several different seniors from last year that shared this with me. They wanted to build a better community with their fellow student-athletes at LBSU, but they didn’t know how to go about doing that.
That’s why the legacy event was so rewarding for me because it brought these student-athletes from various sports together in one location. It gave them the chance to see that they’re all going through the same experience together, regardless of what sport they’re playing.
They’re getting to know each other better.
Making new friends.
And ultimately, bolstering and building the community.
Throughout the semester, seeing the community building that has prospered as a result of the Beachampion program is incredibly rewarding to me.
It also makes me unbelievably proud of our student-athletes to get out of their comfort zones and break down those barriers to get to know their fellow student-athletes better.
The plan with the Beachampion program is to have separate curricula based on where the student-athletes are in their journey.
Freshmen will be exposed to different sessions and materials than sophomores, for example.
The current freshmen class is actually going to be the first one to experience the entire full-fledged program.
So, next year, we’ll launch the sophomore curriculum, then the junior curriculum, and the senior curriculum after that.
I couldn’t be happier with the progress I’ve seen thus far in the Beachampion program. I also look forward to gaining feedback about what’s worked well, what’s something we can do better, and how we can put our student-athletes in the best positions to be engaged citizens and leaders in their fields.
It’s in our mission statement at LBSU to cultivate champions. If we want to cultivate champions, it’s my job to develop and nurture the identities of our student-athletes to feel confident and successful throughout their time at LBSU and beyond.
That’s my vision with the Beachampion program, and I greatly look forward to developing this curriculum in the coming years.
To me, being a champion isn’t about the titles.
It’s not about the banners.
It’s about growing and developing skills, leading in your community, and leaving a lasting legacy that you can be proud of.
And I can’t wait for our student-athletes to experience this journey and discover what being a champion is all about.