Last month, I attended the Minnesota Athletic Administrator's Conference in St. Cloud. This was a great opportunity for me to network with other athletic administrators and get ideas for our programs here at Park.

The activities directors from the Suburban East Conference and around the metro area are really the colleagues that I work with the most. I may talk to them once a week on a phone, but the conference gives us a chance to put a face with the voice we talk to so often.

Even though I have been doing this job for 16 years now, I can always learn a lot from many of the other activities directors from around this area. This is a group that really supports one another and makes my job much easier.

A huge focus of the conference was the MSHSL's "Why We Play" initiative, based on the book InSideOut Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives by Joe Ehrmann.

The focus of the book is four questions that every coach must ask themselves: Why do I coach? Why do I coach the way I do? What does it feel like to be coached by me? How do I define success?

We want to use sports to transform the lives of our student-athletes. While winning is certainly very important at the high school level, our coaching purpose must be about more than the outcome on the scoreboard.

I believe we cannot truly define how successful a coach is until five, 10, or maybe 20 years after their students have graduated high school. We want to be intentional in letting our students, parents, and even community (youth athletic associations) know what our purpose is for coaching education-based athletics.

I strive to provide leadership and growth opportunities to coaches so that students can have positive experiences and learn life-lessons in competitive, educationally-based activities. Our coaches have all read and discussed Ehrmann's book.

Next, we hope to share that message (including themes and common language) with the community to help them understand our transformational purpose. Words like belonging, courage, confidence, and growth are at the core of this purpose.

There are many examples of non-transformational, or transactional, coaches in our society today. Our coaches will continue to work hard to build relationships with their student-athletes and hopefully transform their lives through sports.

Continuous improvement is a major focus for our department - I expect it of myself and of our coaches. The ADs conference and the "InSide Out" initiative is a great way for us to continue to get better at what we do.