After 10 years of providing an in-person clinic for high school athletic team captains, the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) has created an online version to expand its reach. Developed with Michigan State University’s Institute for the Study of Youth Sports, the course will mirror what is taught during the clinics, which will still be taught in-person as well.
“It got to the point where we know [the in-person clinic] is a good program, but we were limited to the number of kids we could reach every year,” said Andy Frushour, MHSAA director of brand management. “It was good for the 1,000 or so kids who were taking the program, but we have 300,000 athletes in this state.
“So we’ve essentially taken our in-person clinic, filmed it and now have it in an online format. Kids can learn the same lessons that they would in person, but do it on their tablet at a pace that’s comfortable for them.”
The Captains Course, which is scheduled to be available on NFHS-Learn this fall, will be free and will feature 10 chapters that students will be able to complete on their own time. Each chapter of the course should take about 10 minutes to complete and will have assessments built in throughout to help kids think about their roles as team leaders. Students can pause the course and return to continue it whenever they would like.
"This isn’t a 15-minute video where all of a sudden you’ve learned how to be a good team captain. It’s probably going to take an hour and a half to get through,” Frushour said. “This is not a substitute for many years of experience. This is not going to describe every situation that could happen as a captain, but it gets kids thinking about their own leadership styles and maybe what kind of traits they have themselves and how they might best be used when they’re a captain.”
Frushour said the most important thing about the online course is that its hosts are current high school students themselves who have real-world experience as team captains.
“All the voices that you’re going to hear through the course are kids’ voices and they are going to give descriptions of situations they’ve been in themselves,” Frushour said. “There’s very little adult voice here – it’s very student-driven.
“I think a lot of kids learn to be captains through trial-and-error. Most kids aren’t taught what it means to be a captain or leader. So, this course introduces a lot of topics that we want kids to be aware of.”
Also, Frushour said the fact that it’s online and free will even allow students outside of Michigan to reap the benefits of the course.
“The beautiful part is we’re creating this program and even though it’s created in Michigan, kids from any state can take it,” Frushour said. “It’s going to be on NFHSLearn and it’s going to be free, so hopefully it reaches a lot of kids.”
Juli Doshan is the graphic arts technician/editorial assistant in the NFHS Publications and Communications Department.