Development from the ground up

By Drake Fages

I can vividly remember my first day of college baseball practice. My friend, Jake, and I had just settled into our dorm room, picked up our bags of baseball gear, and headed out to the field for the first time with all of our new teammates. We were excited to show everyone what talents we had. Us young bucks were ready to show our coaches and teammates what a great treat it was for them to have us on their team. We were planning on hitting multiple home runs, showing off our arms and defensive skills for everyone to see. If you can remember how anxious you were heading to your first school dance it was like that, but much more mature and manly of course. 

After we stretched and played catch (sizing up the strangers that we were to be competing against), our coaches separated us by positions. As a first and third basemen I was placed in a group of 10 players all playing the infield. I was secretly excited because I knew one of the reasons my coaches asked me to play for their team was based on the defensive skills I showcased in a tryout earlier that year. I couldn't wait to show off what I had and how graceful I believed I was on the diamond. But before I could do any of that our coach pulled us together told us to throw our gloves to the side and stand in a line. He made us place our hands behind our back and he told us to look at our feet and said,”These are the most important part of fielding a ground ball. You won’t be able to improve your defense if you don’t design your craft from the ground up.” That day our gloves sat in a pile to the side. We worked step after step putting our feet in the right place. We did different drills that forced us to understand how important our foundations were according to everything else that would pile on top of it. I didn't touch a ball that entire day with my hands! 

Recently I was speaking with several college students and was reminded of the day I stood with my hands behind my back. I realized that I learned a lot from that day, and have integrated that technique in the development of healthy adults. To understand their values and principles is asking them to “put their hands behind their back” and to understand their foundation before anything else. We ask our athletes to work from the ground up because if we don’t, our students won’t be able to paint a vision or mission for their lives that improves them as individuals. 

The YouSchool has a process and plan that works. Our process involves our student athletes self-reflecting and recalling stories and events from their past that reveals to them the core of why they do the things they do. We have students not only recognize the values they hold, but why they hold them. We ask students to take their values and turn them into actionable principles. This necessary progression allows our students to design a filter for their lives, and the result is a mission and vision their lives can be centered around. A mission of meaning. A filter that students can make major life decisions through. School and major selection, relationship guidance, career and job direction all being run through this filter gives clarity and guidance for students in the direction they are meant to go.

The mission or filter-design process can begin before, during, or after an athletes career, and will remain theirs no matter what position or title they hold moving forward. The students mission does not change until a student decides it must. The foundational pieces don't change because they have already been decided and solidified by history. When a player or athlete discovers this, they understand why they play/played their sport, what they are doing/ should be doing with their time, and how their Iife will always have infinite meaning even as they continue and one day complete their careers.

We allow athletes to discover that their greatest story lies ahead of them, not behind them. We need our athletes to know that their sports end, but they don’t. 

Contact us today to learn how The YouSchool Athletic Program can be customized for your environment.

Drake Fages is a bearded mystery. One moment he's laughing at his own jokes with a group of coaches, the next minute he's challenging a student to work harder. He is a carpenter-in-training, a lifelong Dodgers fan, and an aficionado of plaid. After a career detour selling medical devices, he has found his sweet spot working with student-athletes, coaches, and parents at the YouSchool. Connect with Drake on LinkedIn and Twitter.