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The Power of Sports Challenge: Developing Character-Driven Leaders

Sports Challenge is Strive’s foundational program, created in 1996 to spread the power of character-driven leadership. This highly demanding yet nurturing program offers a unique 1:5 coach-athlete ratio and an individual coach-mentor for each athlete over five days. During this time, student-athletes learn and work together while developing into character-driven leaders on and off the field and court. Here’s why Sports Challenge is an incredibly powerful program for youth development.

Cultivating Confidence and Resilience for a Strong Future 

Sports Challenge encourages students to become confident and empowered by pushing them to reach outside their comfort zone and develop into strong, resilient leaders. Student-athletes practice self-discipline, build confidence in their abilities and learn to manage mistakes while striving towards a common goal. Through supportive coaching sessions, team-building activities, and competitive games, students can explore their strengths and weaknesses while learning how to be accountable for their actions—encouraging a growth mindset where students learn that by pushing themselves just a bit further, they can reach new heights of personal achievement. By teaching students the importance of hard work, resilience, and perseverance, Sports Challenge gives them the tools they need to become confident and empowered leaders.

Gaining Essential Life Skills Through Mentorship and Support

Through the mentorship of individual coaches and the supportive environment created, student-athletes gain knowledge in goal setting, problem-solving, and communication skills. They learn how to set personal goals, develop strategies for achieving them, and practice these strategies with their peers. Sports Challenge helps students understand how to use problem-solving skills to address challenges and how communication is crucial for successful teamwork. With an emphasis on collaboration, team members develop a leadership understanding making them successful in sports activities and life.

Fostering Collaboration, Communication, and Respect for Diversity Through Team Sports

Sports Challenge encourages collaboration, communication, and respect for diversity by bringing together a diverse group of student-athletes to play soccer or basketball at a competitive level, creating an understanding among peers from different backgrounds and perspectives. Through this program, students learn how to effectively collaborate with others, regardless of differences in race, gender identity, or socioeconomic status. Sports Challenge athletes are encouraged to recognize the value of different perspectives, stay open-minded about new ideas and solutions, and respect each other’s differences. Keeping an open mind encourages an appreciation for diversity within the sports community which helps to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all. 

Unleashing Empowerment Through Games and Camaraderie

Sports Challenge offers athletes the freedom to let go, laugh and enjoy the camaraderie that only sports can provide. It’s a chance for them to appreciate just how powerful and rewarding playing games together can be. Through this program, student-athletes experience the joy of developing meaningful relationships with their peers as they work through strenuous athletic practices and games. Games and stepping outside of one’s comfort zone helps create a sense of connection and belonging with their team, which can be hard to find in today’s world. Moreover, these experiences allow student-athletes to recognize the importance of teamwork and the power of collaboration. 

“My time at strive was invaluable. I learned so many things that I carried with me to the next level in college, from leadership skills to mental toughness. While my time there was over 5 years ago, I built relationships with people I still keep in touch with, and when I come across memories, it’s like they just happened. Strive’s Sports Challenge was not only fun but a great chance to dive in and learn something new!”

-Jordan Smith

Jordan Smith is just one of many athletes to benefit from the Sports Challenge program. Her testimony speaks to its impact on helping student-athletes build essential life skills, foster collaboration and communication, and experience the joys of camaraderie through sports. Check out Jordan’s full story on Strive’s podcast on February 16th and learn what makes Sports Challenge such an invaluable experience. With the life skills, social awareness, and team-building experiences gained through this program, student-athletes are better prepared to excel in sports and life.


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