In the summer of 2021, Air Academy High School lacrosse phenom Grant Rodny was in Maryland. He was participating in the Committed Combine with 88 of the top lacrosse players in the country. During the 3-day event, each of the athletes gets to experience the Lead ‘Em Up program.
After the experience, Rodny was hooked.
“The program was so good and I immediately thought how much it could help my team back home,” said Rodny.
He talked to his coach, Ethan Hilberg. They teamed up, got the rest of the team involved, and introduced Lead ‘Em Up to his Air Academy Boys Lacrosse team. Coach Hilberg and the team went all in on Lead ‘Em Up and rode the Lead ‘Em Up “Green Team” all the way to the State Championship.
The Girls Lacrosse team, led by Kali Maxwell, decided to bring in Lead ‘Em Up later that season. They saw the success the Boys Lacrosse team was experiencing with it and wanted to try it too … to great success. Fast forward two years and every team in the school participates in the Lead ‘Em Up program.
…not only shape skilled athletes but future leaders.
Maxwell, now the Athletic Director at Air Academy, has taken the lead in bringing Lead ‘Em Up to the entire athletic program.
“Our commitment to implementing Lead ‘Em Up within our athletic department stems from a desire to not only shape skilled athletes but future leaders. The impact has been undeniable – we’ve seen increased camaraderie, better decision-making, and a positive influence on and off the field. Investing in Lead ‘Em Up has elevated our department and created a lasting legacy of strong, capable leaders. It’s been fantastic,” Maxwell shared.
…a powerful leadership program for our school.
Down the street, something similar is taking place at Dakota Ridge High School. There, Athletic Director Matt Heckel has been leading the way. He is leading the way, helping elevate all the Eagle athletes to improve by bringing Lead ‘Em Up to their program.
“Two years ago, I discovered Lead ‘Em Up, and it has been a great benefit. It had many elements that I found intriguing and has proven to be a powerful leadership program for our school,” Heckel shared.
At Dakota Ridge, the athletes do something special called Campus Days. Campus Days are a day at the start of each sports season where athletes and coaches attend workshops to learn about leadership. They sign up for different hour-long sessions throughout the day. Each Session has a specific theme chosen by the athletic department. At the end of the Campus Day, each coach gets their own custom leadership plan to use during the season.
“For the coaches, Lead ‘Em Up has so much to offer. Coaches have access to the dashboard to build leadership on their team with many activities that our students find enjoyable and useful. Many of our coaches are amazed that their team utilizes the keywords and phrases taught in the Coaches Membership to demonstrate leadership or when a teammate isn’t reaching the standard.”
Dakota Ridge even had a player, Jacob White (Dakota Ridge Baseball), earn Green 13 status – Lead ‘Em Up’s highest award. They select 13 nominated athletes from around the country and celebrate each athlete with a handful of prizes, including Chick-Fil-A for a year.
“I am thankful for Lead ‘Em Up and their staff in helping our school’s success,” Heckel expressed.
The program has continued to grow in Colorado. It has gone up to Greeley at Frontier Academy, out west to Gypsum with Eagle Valley, and in many places in between.
…a game changer for the character and leadership development of athletes on our teams.
Brett Shanklin, from Frontier Academy, enthusiastically shared, “We have had the privilege of bringing Lead ‘Em Up to Frontier Academy and it has been a game changer for the character and leadership development of athletes on our teams. I am excited to see how Lead ‘Em Up continues to transform not only our teams but our school culture in the coming year.”
Expanding the Team
The amazing focus on leadership by Colorado coaches and athletic directors has caused Lead ‘Em Up to expand the team in the state.
To make sure we can help even more Colorado teams experience the great things these teams have, we’ve added Mark Haug as a Regional Coach for the area. He’s joining our team so we can do an even better job serving the teams in Colorado. And the Colorado athletes are the biggest winners.
Have fun and #LeadEmUp