Coaler athletes develop leadership skills

Courtesy photos COAL CITY HIGH School’s Coalers with Character group recently returned from an educational trip that took them to Ohio and Indiana. The students enjoyed batting practice on Progressive Field before the Cleveland Indians hosted the Houston Astros. Prior to the game, the group spent some time with CCHS graduate Joe Kessler, who is the Indian’s strength & conditioning coach. Taking part in the trip were (from left, row one): Grace Norris, Lauren Ferrari, Madison Emerson, Regan Ullrich, Maci Baldauf and Carly Ford. Coalers with Character sponsor Brad Boresi is in row two with Abram Wills, Nolan Berger, Ashton Harvey, Kessler, Caden Hennessy, Evan Rivera, Natalie Durham, Derek Carlson, Coalers with Charater sponsor Corey Mikula and Drew Durham.

Ann Gill

The Coalers with Character program was organized to improve the leadership and character traits of the district’s student athletes. The CCHS program got its start last summer with instruction on how to utilize leadership and character to become a role model. As a teacher, coach and sports fan, Brad Boresi knows that people young and old look up to athletes from all levels. He and fellow educators wanted to provide local athletes the tools they need to be successful on the playing field, but also in life. That includes the ability to make good choices. As the program begins its second year, Boresi and fellow club sponsors Corey Mikula and Francis Loughran wanted to provide members with a leadership opportunity and it took them east to Ohio and Indiana. Last month, 15 student athletes and five chaperones took a three-day trip that began with a stop at Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH where they were greeted at the players’ entrance by CCHS graduate Joe Kessler, the strength and conditioning coach for the Cleveland Indians baseball team. Kessler took them straight to the field for an on-field meet and greet and then they headed into the media room where the students had an opportunity to chat with the former Coaler before being introduced to Jay Hennessey, the team vice president of learning and development. Hennessey is a former Navy Seal who served as commanding officer at the Naval Special Warfare Center. He now provides leadership development to the Indians’ organization. His message to the students was it takes teamwork to be successful and everyone needs to come fully engaged. He also expressed the need for debriefing after an event and being willing to admit to your mistakes when they occur and learn from them. After some time talking to the students, he put the group through an intense 20 minute workout inside the stadium. “It may have been the hardest workout I have ever done,” said student Lauren Ferrari. Despite the riggers of the workout, Boresi said it was a neat experience for the students to have the opportunity to workout inside the confines of a Major League stadium. The visit continued into the evening as Kessler welcomed the group back for that evening’s contest and provide each of the students with passes to be on the field during batting practice. “A lot was packed into the first day. When we got off the bus ready, everything was on a time crunch and by the time we got back to the hotel everyone was exhausted,” Boresi said. Day two found the group on the road headed to Ohio State University in Columbus. The students toured Ohio Stadium including time on the field, in the coach’s and media boxes and even a luxury suite. While on the field, the students were allowed to run around there was just one rule, no tackling. The group then toured the inside of the stadium including the players’ tunnel and recruiting room, before heading off to a presentation hosted by Charles Buchanan, a professor in the university’s school of business. He instructs course in leadership, team effectiveness and developing leaders and coaches. Buchanan talked about the courses he teaches including a new program he’s teaming on with Urban Meyer, Ohio State’s former football coach. “One of his main points was 10-80-10, the bottom 10 are the ones who always want to jack around and fool around at practice, then you have 80 that are average that just go through the reps and the 10 elite people who are working hard and going 110 percent every day. He said the 10 elite need to grab the 80 and the 80 need to go and grab the 10 at the bottom. Leave no one out, you are all a team,” said Nolan Berger. “That is one of the biggest things (the group) talked about that night,” Boresi said. “You may have three or four of those top 10 percent elite athletes that they always come and work together and I even talked to the group that night you can equate it to the workplace teaching. It’s easy to work with teachers that are at your same level, but to grab the ones that are below you or trying to jump on to the ones above you is not always easy. But the 10-80-10 thing is something we talked a lot about and it’s a great concept.” Buchanan and Meyer are currently working on a leadership training application, and Boresi and Mikula have been invited to test it out and provide some feedback. The day ended with an outing at Top Golf, with plans to tour a television studio on the third and final day, but as they do, plans changed. So the trip ended with an outing in Indianapolis where the students could enjoy a variety of outdoor activities including mini-golf and go-carting. “It was a great way to end the trip,” Boresi said, noting a number of students have asked what is planned for summer 2020. At this point, he’s looking to make it an every other year event for the club.