Instead of heading to their respective practice arenas during sixth period to lift weights or execute drills, the majority of La Cañada High School’s 800 energetic student-athletes crammed into the bleachers last week in the Hotchkin Family Gymnasium for a workshop about becoming true dual threats — better athletes and people.
Speaker Ray Lokar, a former Bishop Amat High School athlete and basketball coach, led the 80-minute seminar on behalf of the Positive Coaching Alliance.
The organization, which was founded in 1998 at Stanford, has partnered with about 3,000 schools and organizations nationwide, offering consultations, workshops and information about sportsmanship, confidence, effort and many other facets of high school athletic success.
During the seminar last Thursday, Lokar asked Spartan athletes to choose which type of teammate they valued most: the one who A) consoles teammates when things don’t go well, B) celebrates victories, C) shows sportsmanship to opponents or D) “plays like crazy.”
It was a trick question, but multi-sport athlete Seve Rodriguez answered correctly.
“I raised my hand for all of them,” said the senior, who runs cross-country and track and plays soccer in addition to serving on the school’s Athletic Leadership Council. “It’s important to have teammates who are there for you in the good times and the bad times.”
LCHS has signed on for a two-year partnership with the Positive Coaching Alliance, said athletic director Kristina Kalb, who heard only good things about the program when she called schools to ask them about their experiences.
“Every single one of them talked about that it truly made a positive impact,” she said. “We are an amazing school and an amazing athletic program, with positive coaches and athletes who work very hard — not just on the court but in the class — but we always have room for improvement.
“And this tied in with our core values of community and integrity, and with the ‘Challenge Success’ direction we’re headed. All of this just ties together.”
The La Cañada Spartans Booster Club agreed to fund the program, Kalb said, chipping in $2,500 this year for four workshops, which have been or will be delivered to coaches, athletes and soon, parents, as well as another $1,900 for next year’s program, which will include three additional workshops.
Kalb said Positive Coaching Alliance offers a large variety of tips and tools to help guide coaches, “a smorgasbord buffet of how to deal with every type of athlete.” She said she makes use of that information by including it in her weekly coaching emails.
“We love coming to places like La Cañada,” Lokar said. “It’s awesome to come to a place that’s really, really good and wants to be great.”