This book, written by a St. Mary’s parent, will help guide the new leadership program for athletes of the Portland high school. (Courtesy Greg Bell)
This book, written by a St. Mary’s parent, will help guide the new leadership program for athletes of the Portland high school. (Courtesy Greg Bell)

As St. Mary’s Academy students start school this fall, it is not just the academic program that will move to an online format. Everything from assemblies to Mass to extracurricular activities have been reimagined for a digital environment, including athletics. 

While student-athletes won’t be able to compete formally until almost the end of the year, as per the new Oregon School Activities Association guidelines, St. Mary’s student-athletes will have the opportunity to take part in a new program, Leadership: On and Off the Field. It is designed to develop the leadership skills that sports help instill.

St. Mary’s is working with current parent, author and motivational speaker Greg Bell to develop the curriculum based on Bell’s book, “Water The Bamboo: Unleashing Your Potential” (the student leadership edition). Bell will lead virtual training sessions for student-athletes as well as St. Mary’s coaches and parents.

“While we know this won’t fully replace what our student-athletes will be missing with the delay in the athletic seasons, our hope is that our students will continue to strengthen the skills critical to athletic success, skills such as teamwork, resilience, discipline, confidence and determination,” said Nicole Foran, principal of St. Mary’s. “We know these characteristics have relevance beyond sports and our student-athletes will be better prepared for life after St. Mary’s.”

Bell said he’s excited to deliver a series of programs for the student-athletes based on his book. “The curriculum is designed to help student-athletes stay motivated and engaged emotionally, mentally and physically during this challenging time, by getting athletes to focus on what they can control,” he said.

In addition to the curriculum for student-athletes, Leadership: On and Off the Field will include a virtual speaker series for St. Mary’s students and parents featuring athletic trainers, experts from the world of sports science, nutrition, wellness and sports psychology as well as talks with athletes and coaches from both the collegiate and professional ranks.  

“Now, more than ever, we recognize our need to stretch and get creative around the programming we offer our students,” said Foran. “We also understand the critical importance of a program like this tailored specifically for young women, with research confirming that sports participation has a real impact on success later in life.”