Lori Poe – Chartiers Valley High School

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“Coaching Boys Into Men is a great program for girls, too. Kids of both sexes know they have someone to talk to. They become resources for each other. Not all kids have that, and it wouldn’t have happened here without the structure of the program.”

Lori Poe, head coach for cross country and track & field at Chartiers Valley High School, runs a combined program. She asked her male assistants to work with the boys on the team when Chartiers Valley School District implemented Coaching Boys Into Men (CBIM) across its male athletic programs, and Lori had separate discussions with the girls, substituting topics more relevant to them.

“I wanted to provide a little bit of guidance,” Lori says. Parents can’t know everything their kids are doing, and most of the messages on the internet and social media aren’t about appropriate behavior. “Digital media is a big part of kids’ lives, and it desensitizes them. They need to be told repeatedly that a lot of the stuff they do isn’t right. Maybe the tenth time they’ll really hear it.” CBIM helps kids start to realize they should be listening.

The coaches’ involvement makes a big difference. “Kids trust their coaches and spend a lot of time with them. If an issue comes up, they have someone to reach out and talk to.” Just as importantly, athletes who participate in CBIM exert positive peer pressure. “It’s really effective when one of your teammates steps up and says, ‘Whoa, what makes you think that’s okay? You shouldn’t be doing that.’” That’s especially true for younger athletes who look up to seniors.

Lori noticed that her athletes treat each other with more respect now. “Being a little more accepting of each other, being less critical and standing up for each other – without that open dialogue, we’d be seeing less of that constructive behavior.”

Like every coach, Lori feels pressure to maximize practice time. It can be difficult to get her athletes together at the same time, especially during the spring season, but she’s made CBIM part of her team’s routine. She says it’s been worth the effort. “You just have to make the commitment.”

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