Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Ways to Utilize Peer Athletes I

This successful program is an adaptable model for other schools' coaches.

Marlow Football Buddies  

For many years on game days, the football players and cheerleaders every Friday go to the grade school to visit Pre-K through second grade. Players visit the classes for about 15-20 minutes. Usually, one to three players go to one class. Players greet, interact, play catch in the football field across the street, or hang out on the playground. 

The elementary teachers often make or supervise their students' making treat bags for the players to take back to the locker room. The school or athletic department sometimes makes shirts to give the elementary students. The students love it. The younger ones, who often have older siblings, look forward to the Football Buddies, and they get to know the athletes and cheerleaders. 

Behavior  This small program has improved behavior. If there are weeks when a class does not behave or do classwork, the teachers will tell them that their Football Buddies will not come, that they will lose this privilege this week. The Buddies don't come to the misbehaving class, but they do go to other classes. The children are really disappointed but learn, even in Pre-K, that behavior and actions matter. Football Buddies simply do not come if behavior is bad.  

Personal communication, 2014

In a June 2016 conversation with Felix Linden, the co-founder and advisor/teacher of the Roosevelt Leadership Academy, Felix viewed Marlow Football Buddies as a launching pad for almost all Oklahoma schools, including Oklahoma City Public Schools, for whom he works. Felix envisioned "Active Athletes" as the program name.


Activities could vary by grade, e.g., 1st and 2nd, 3rd and 4th, middle school, etc.

Length of Each Class Visit – 15-20 minutes, 30 minutes, or more 

Added benefit - Routinely assign players and cheerleaders to the same class(es) to increase relationship-building.

Change players as sports' seasons change, e.g., wrestling, basketball, soccer, golf, gymnastics, others.

Cedar Hill Longhorns,

Improved behavior (for mentors and mentees)                            

Increased self-worth (for mentors and mentees)

Emphasized academics and athletics

Visit Activities

Talking and listening to younger students *

Teaching or practicing a cheer, school fight song and more

Throwing/shooting balls, putting, cartwheels (depending upon sport)

Showing-and-telling with sporting equipment which students can touch or use

Reading a book with a few students or having them read to athletes

Trying on sports gear, having a photo made with an athlete, printed, and autographed

Assigning team members to a teacher to make weekly visits to tutor and mentor

    * Having name tags on the elementary students might be helpful for a few visits.

Pre- or Follow-up Activities

Making signs and/or coloring printables for athletes' lockers (Google sports worksheets and printables.)

Writing a short support message on a Post-It Note. "Go, Pete. Mark"

Attending games with families to cheer on their athletes

Honoring athletes for accomplishments at a elementary or middle school assembly

Doing some kind of school project, fundraiser, or community service together

Crafting - making tissue paper pom-poms in school colors to cheer on the athletes

Team's hosting a school night at a home meet (or game); younger peers serve as "personnel"

Team's performing at a school assembly (either something funny or a routine from their sport)


Transportation if the elementary or middle school(s) are far from the high school. Students will have to carpool, drive, or walk.

Disrupting students’ or athletes' instruction time

Generally, teachers are willing to give up instruction time for their students’ improved behavior and increased self-esteem.

Some schools allow athletes to leave early on game days, or alternate times can be decided.

Send us your ideas or best practices.

Trinity College athlete and mentees

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