Kevin King, MA, a teaching specialist in the Sport Management program at the School of Kinesiology has been teaching leadership development to St. Louis Park High School athletes since the fall of 2017.
“I really enjoy watching the young men and women grow in their academic knowledge of leadership and how it translates in their lives and careers within their teams,” said King.
As the leadership development consultant for the athletics department, King offers in-season and off-season leadership training to captains of all 26 sport programs. Captains of boys and girls teams participate in an eight-week session during the season and a six-week pre-season session that provides them with leadership skills that are applicable on and off the field.
The program trains captains in leadership behavioral principles including culture, core values, emotional intelligence, standards, discipline, mental toughness, trust, and servant leadership, a leadership philosophy in which the main goal of the leader is to serve. Through lectures, guest speakers, and group work they have the opportunity to dive deep into topics such as personal and team core value development and conflict management.
“The student-athletes gain a better understanding of themselves and the kind of leaders they are and aspire to be through this program,” said King. “They learn to practice their skills in real life situations that serve them not only on the field or courts, but more importantly in the classroom, in their personal lives, on jobs, and in the community. The things they are learning will serve them well beyond their high school years.”
Now in its third year, the St. Louis Park leadership program has seen improvement in common language, a higher level of intentional leadership and support amongst all programs.
Students like Tobyous Davenport, entering the program now, are excited to take what they’re learning and apply it to their sport.
“The program is helping me be a better leader for my team, but also making me a better me, for now and my future,” said Davenport.
Davenport, a senior on St. Louis Park’s football team, helped lead his team to a 4-4 record this year. Their season ended in a close loss to Irondale in the Section Tournament this October. Davenport will be graduating from St. Louis Park this spring and hopes to use his leadership skills in the pursuit of a college football career. The goal of this program, and King’s goal in teaching it, is that students like Davenport use what they learn about leadership, and apply it beyond their sport as they move into a post-high school world.
“My hope is that they take these skills and become better human beings; better classmates, better friends; better teammates; and role models in school and in their communities,” said King.