On the WhistleA podcast about youth mentorship
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On the Whistle Podcast

Find Your Path: The Mental Health of an Athlete

 The youngest of six kids, David Kotowski discovered his passion for lacrosse by playing with his older brother, Matt, and his friends. Dave lived in a single-parent home and was subjected to abuse that left him troubled and on a dangerous path toward failure. The two constants that Dave could count on were sports…

We Not Me: Uniting a Team of Individuals

 As Coach Dave Steckel stepped into his first job as a 6th grade teacher at Governor Mifflin Junior High, he was eager for the opportunity to teach and shape young minds. In the teacher’s lounge between classes and after school, the recent college grad was shocked and disgusted by the way some teachers spoke…

Every Kids Sports: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

 After graduating high school with 9 varsity letters, Natalie Hummel attended Colorado State University and joined the women’s volleyball team. A coaching shakeup in her sophomore year saw Natalie go from benchwarmer to starter. The flip in coaching philosophy not only elevated her game but brought her team closer together as a unit; earning…

Developing Players Between the Lines and Outside Them

 Back when Michael Worden was a kid, soccer wasn’t a mainstream sport. With no MLS and no FIFA, it wasn’t as commonplace for American youth as it is today. Mike’s affinity for soccer started at an early age after befriending some neighbors from Central America, where soccer was engrained into culture. Playing pickup games…

Respect in Rivalry: Interview with Mike Fraioli & Steve O’Donnell

 When I say sports rivalry what do you think of? Most teams that jump to mind are the Red Sox & Yankees, Celtics & Lakers, the Packers & Bears – you’re not thinking of high school lacrosse. Since joining the RIIL in 2009, my alma mater Moses Brown has battled against sports juggernaut, La…

Coaching Compassion: A Program Built on Diveresity

 Growing up a multi-sport athlete, Sarah Albus was no stranger to competition. From gymnastics to volleyball to downhill skiing – she did it all! But the soccer field is where Sarah found her footing, winning two SEC championships at Vanderbilt University and playing on the US Women’s National B Team .  This conversation isn’t…

Teaching Confidence: An Interview with Alexander Major II

 Not everyone’s a winner. Those who strive and work hard, they become winners. Those who lose, they learn from their losses – and if they’re motivated because they really want that particular win – they’ll work for it. As long as you’re striving, you’re not a loser. Growing up in the Astoria projects in…

The Psychology of Sport: Gratitude in Greatness

 It’s hard to get good at something. It takes time and discipline (and a little luck!). Success cannot be bought. As Brad Faxon explains, it’s not something you can bottle up and put on a shelf at CVS to sell. It’s not a destination either. It’s a mindset. And it all starts with gratitude. In…

Establishing your Identity in a Team Sport

 Basketball didn’t cut it for him. Neither did baseball. In fact, none of these “traditional” sports seemed to fit for Preston Anderson. It wasn’t until his mother took him to sailing camp that Preston found his niche. He knew that being on the water, controlling where the wind took him is where he wanted…

Move the Ball: Relating the Sport of Football to Life

 Growing up a Chicago Bears fan, she’d see the likes of Walter Payton, Mike Singletary, and William Perry working their way up and down the field on her TV screen. She always admired the team’s ability to overcome a deficit. No matter the situation, the team would give it their all to try and…

All In – an Interview With Celtic’s Majority Owner Wyc Grousbeck

 “When I say I didn’t have the money, I didn’t have the money. But I did have the confidence to find partners who would see it my way.”  A true, natural competitor, Wyc Grousbeck – majority owner and governor of the Boston Celtics – knows the dedication it takes to not give up on…

Athletes in a Business Structure

   Andy Gresh – a New England radio icon – joins me this week on the show this week. In the episode, Andy and I discuss how the son of a coal miner who grew up in a small, rural Pennsylvania town ended up a prolific voice in sports broadcasting and how being an…

Amplifying Underrepresented Voices in Sports

   An unlikely rower from Mount Holyoke became an Olympic athlete. That athlete completed law school and launched a successful legal career. Then she laid it all aside to become a filmmaker.  Her latest documentary tells the story of an inner city rowing team from a difficult side of Chicago that came together to…

Penance to Mission: Shaping the New Face of Service

   It all started at a keg party on the Georgetown campus. Paul Caccamo and scores of his friends were celebrating his graduation until the police showed up. In a turn of events worthy of Les Mis, a passing Jesuit priest convinced them to let Paul go provided he performed an appropriate penance.  …

Front Row Seat: Greed and Corruption in a Youth Sports Company

   A liar never tells you he’s lying.   That’s why you fall for it.   And that’s the way all you’ve worked so crazy-hard to build starts to unravel.   What began as an amazing entrepreneurial adventure in youth sports ended under a federal investigation. Steve Griffin tells the whole story in his…

What I Learned About Management on the Ice Hockey Rink

   Always a player that played to her strengths, building them to their full capacity, Erika Lawler won 3 national championships and a silver medal in the Olympics for ice hockey.  When you have such a storied athletic career, what coaches and lessons stand out? In this episode of the On the Whistle podcast,…

Sports Journalism Lessons Learned From Growing Up Quaker

   Growing up Quaker meant learning to sit still, be quiet, and surreptitiously practice sign language with your friends. Today though, silence, mindfulness, and living in the moment — all the things that happened in the Quaker meeting — have taken a major role in the world. How can our childhood experiences, such as…

The Three-Track Approach to Social Integration at Steel Sports

   We aren’t just playing games. Youth sports is also about social impact, character development, and growth into adult life.  None of this happens automatically when we hand a kid a ball. Instead, it all develops over time as we invest our knowledge and ourselves into our athletes. How can we more effectively develop…

Building a Coaching System That Can Change Kids’ Lives

   In youth sports, we talk a lot about changing the world. But once kids leave the field, how are they changed? Are they any different on the ride home in the minivan than they were when they arrived? Keith Osik, former player for the Pirates and now Vice President for Coaching Development, and…

How to Thrive as a Woman in Sports

 How do you thrive in adverse situations? By practicing creative leadership in challenging environments. Like being a woman in athletics, for instance. It’s tempting to behave sedately, the way women are often socialized to do. But sometimes, that’s the wrong thing for everybody.   Digit Murphy, head coach of the women’s professional hockey team,…

25 Years of Winning

 “If everyone played baseball like Cumberland Americans, this would be the greatest game.”   With those words and the rest of his five-minute speech after losing at the Little League World Series, Dave Belisle entered the hearts of sports fans, parents, coaches, and kids everywhere.    In this episode of the On the Whistle…

Full Court Peace: Playing One Sport as One Team

 In Northern Ireland, soccer led to rioting and violence between Protestant and Catholic boys. But could basketball be different? One man thought so, and he created a team of Catholics and Protestants together. Mike Evans, founder and executive director of Full Court Peace, says basketball can be a unifying force. (The Dalai Lama agrees…

Unlock Structure With Free Play

  By teaching people to do something, you take away their ability to figure it out for themselves. Isn’t structured coaching the best way to learn? Not always. You need to get a feel for how to control your defender with your eyes, posture, or faking skills. None of those things can be taught. They…

How Resilience Works: Helping Seriously Ill Children Achieve Their Goals

 Liam is 10 years old. He has Duchenne muscular dystrophy. It’s like ALS but affects young boys instead of grown ups. He’s also part of the baseball team at Northeastern University. Liam is just one of the seriously or chronically ill kids that Jay Calnan and the folks at Team Impact are putting on…

The Not-So-Secret Recipe for Effective Coaching

 Never sugarcoat anything. Willie Edwards, assistant football coach at Brown University, believes the recipe for effective coaching blends discipline, love, firmness, and hard work. It took tough love for him to lead a team to five straight High School Super Bowl visits and two championships.  On this episode of the On the Whistle podcast,…

The Culture of Coaching

On this episode of the On the Whistle podcast, I talk with Babson hockey coach Jamie Rice about his journey to coaching and what’s made him successful in sports leadership.

Mentorship: How to Coach the Right Way

On this episode of the On the Whistle podcast, I talk about mentorship with Dan Koppen, two-time Super Bowl champion for the New England Patriots.

On the Whistle