Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, left, and Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, right, talk before an NCAA college football game in Norman. (AP photo/Sue Ogrocki)
OKLAHOMA CITY (JR) – Head football coaches Mike Gundy of Oklahoma State University and Bob Stoops of the University of Oklahoma are teaming up with the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence through its Boren Mentoring Initiative for the Oklahoma Coaches’ Mentoring Challenge, a statewide campaign to recruit mentors for young people.
The Coaches’ Mentoring Challenge started in 2008 as a friendly competition between coaches Tom Osborne of the University of Nebraska and Bill Snyder at Kansas State University. Since then, many current and retired coaches from Big 12 and Big Ten teams have joined the challenge.
Last year, Oklahoma joined the challenge for the first time, recruiting 3,340 mentors, which represented 32.4 percent of the 10,285 recruited among six participating states. This year, 11 participating states have set a goal of recruiting 15,000 mentors through the Coaches’ Mentoring Challenge.
“Anytime you’re able to help young people in developing their goals, their habits – anything you can do to assist young people in finding their way and reaching their full potential – you need to extend a hand and do your best to help,” Stoops said.
Gundy said mentoring has been an important part of his coaching career, and he encourages Oklahomans to help youths in their communities.
“The most enjoyable part of being a coach is the opportunity to see a young man come in at 18 years old and leave our institution with a degree and an opportunity to play championship football and to develop in so many ways – to be on time, to be respectful, to help others and to really contribute to society,” Gundy said. “I think one of the greatest gifts we can all give is to pass on the lessons of mentorship – being kind, treating people fairly, the ability to learn from failure and get back up and keep moving forward.”
Stoops and Gundy are teaming up with the Boren Mentoring Initiative and its statewide network of mentoring organizations to recruit and place mentors. The Boren Mentoring Initiative has launched a website at www.okcoacheschallenge.org where prospective volunteers can find local mentoring opportunities.
Oklahoma high school and college coaches are also being encouraged to endorse and support the campaign by signing up at the website. It includes promotional materials and ideas for promoting the campaign on campuses and communities across the state.
In a recent survey of Oklahoma mentoring organizations, the Boren Mentoring Initiative found that the greatest challenge facing mentoring organizations was a shortage of volunteer mentors, said Beverly Woodrome, director of the Boren Mentoring Initiative.
The Boren Mentoring Initiative, named for Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence founder and chairman David L. Boren and his wife, Molly, was started in 2006 to promote youth mentoring programs statewide.
The initiative has created a directory of more than 150 mentoring partner organizations statewide and works with the organizations to offer resources and promote mentoring best practices. Mentoring programs can join the network for free.