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Rising to the Challenge: Advanced Athletics for Dragon Student-Athletes

In March of this year, as the COVID-19 outbreak started spreading throughout the US, O’Dowd’s basketball teams, both on their way to the championships, instead found themselves indefinitely benched.

Today, the state of play remains unclear. While the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) has pushed the sport seasons back, with fall sports starting in December, our Athletics Department is waiting for guidance from both the

Alameda County Public Health Department and the Diocese of Oakland before beginning in-person practices.

This October, O’Dowd’s new Athletic Director, Carlos Reed, and his team are kicking off Advanced Athletics: Performance Skills for the Complete Dragon, a new initiative to strengthen our coaches and student-athletes with the values and skills gained through competition, so that every Dragon leaves O’Dowd equipped to grow into their best selves.

Carlos, along with Hillary Kigar, our Assistant Athletic Director, worked hard with O’Dowd coaches over the summer to create excellent pivots to keep student-athletes engaged. “We need to take charge and run a program that’s not contingent on the pandemic,” Carlos shared. “We’re going to focus on the elements of personal growth that all coaches want to develop throughout the season. COVID has provided the space to thoughtfully develop this opportunity to empower both coaches and student-athletes.”

Carlos comes to O’Dowd from Drew School in San Francisco, where he served for 18 years as Athletic Director. “We need to make sure that we’re keeping our Dragons strong, in all ways – mind, body and spirit. When I joined O’Dowd, I was tasked with creating a universal program that would serve all our student-athletes, but COVID-19 has accelerated everything, and we are moving to launch that new initiative now.”

“All coaches want to focus their time on the mental game as much as the physical game,” explained Carlos. “All coaches want to make sure their athletes are prepared to overcome challenges and adversities and rise strong. Our Advanced Athletics program is a series of development workshops designed to build and nourish our student-athletes’ minds and spirits.”

Advanced Athletics begins the first week of October with both coach and student-athlete workshops, entitled “Using Your Voice: Social Justice and Service.” The workshops will feature alum Scott Brooks ’90, Professor at Arizona State University and director of research at Global Sports Institute on the ASU campus.

“We see professional athletes, from the NBA to the NFL, and even college football with the leadership of our own alum Jevon Holland ’18, speaking out for racial justice,” Carlos noted. “We want to encourage our student-athletes to feel confident using their voices and doing their part to make the world a better place.”

Upcoming workshops will leverage both on-campus resources, as well as guest speakers, and will occur either weekly or bi-weekly. “Every session is about strengthening our Dragons, through leadership, faith, identity and character,” said Hillary. “We’re excited for the opportunity to launch collaborative partnerships throughout the school, like bringing in Campus Ministry, Career Counseling, and more.” In addition, the Athletic Department also has a Sports Psychology intern from John F. Kennedy University who is working with individual athletes from all teams.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us all about adversity. But sport teaches us to adjust to failures and keep going. “We are preparing our student-athletes to face competition and struggle in new ways,” Carlos said. “I’m proud to be able to create Advanced Athletics as the universal baseline for all our athletes. Every facet of this program is built around our charism, from Academic Excellence to Joy. We are wedding the power of our charism with the power of athletics to fuel not just individual athletes and teams, but the O’Dowd community as a whole.”

Student-Athletes, view the calendar of workshops and register now.


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