"When You Find the best in yourself, you inspire the best in others."  Kevin Morgan, Strive Founder

July 7 - July 15 2017, Middletown, DE

Sports Challenge is a 9-day residential leadership development program at St. Andrew’s School, Middletown, DE, for high school athletes from around the country playing soccer (boys and girls), basketball (boys and girls), or lacrosse (girls) at a competitive level. Sports Challenge is designed to develop character-based leaders and applies the same rigor of sports training to the practice of leadership.  The program is capped at 140 student-athletes and offers a unique 1:5 coach/athlete ratio and an individual mentor for every student-athlete. Coaches are highly qualified leaders from high school and college athletic programs around the country and their dynamic engagement is key to Sports Challenge’s differentiating experience. 


Program Overview

6 Core Competencies
Research tells us that the most effective leaders possess six core competencies: self-awareness, grit, teamwork, empathy, self-efficacy, and gratitude. The Sports Challenge curriculum is focused on developing these competencies in its student athletes using the Strive curriculum model as a teaching framework on and off the playing field. Instructional themes vary, from conflict resolution to followership and risk. Through the Brush It Off mistake ritual, daily Red Shirt Awards and Appreciations, and hilarious Pompines, student athletes also learn the value of intentional rituals and traditions in building strong, aligned cultures.
Culture And Diversity
Sports Challenge Culture and Diversity
Fom the time athletes get off the bus at Sports Challenge, they are immersed in the rigorous, motivating culture of Strive. The program is demanding and supportive – driving athletes to improve their game on and off the field by failing hard in a safe environment. This balance creates lasting, long-term growth in both their athletic performance and individual development. Strive celebrates diversity and intentionally accepts student athletes from a wide variety of backgrounds and geographic locations. Learning to work effectively with different people is a key feature of the program and student athletes often highlight it as the most rewarding aspect of their Sports Challenge experience. Strive offers a robust scholarship program to ensure all high potential athletes have the opportunity to attend.

See a Typical Day at Sports Challenge +

7:00am - 7:45am | Vitamins – high intensity workout

8:00am | Breakfast

9:30am - 11:30am | Sports-Specific Practice

11:30am | Snack

12:00pm - 12:45pm | Leadership Class

1:00pm | Lunch

2:00pm | Flex Time (pool, hanging out, mentor meetings, college counseling)

3:30pm - 5:30pm | Sports-Specific Practice

5:30pm | Dinner

7:00pm - 8:00pm | All-Program Leadership Forum with Red Shirt Awards and Appreciations

8:00pm - 8:45pm | Sports Psychology Class

9:00pm | Social Time

10:00pm | Dorms

10:45pm | Lights Out


Tuition and Financial Aid Information +

Sports Challenge program tuition is $2000. 
Strive recognizes that not all student-athletes interested in attending our program are able to afford the full cost of tuition. We work hard to be able to offer merit and need based financial aid packages that allow students to attend that would not otherwise be able to. Due to the number of qualified applicants that are considered, it is extremely important that applicants meet the filing deadlines to receive timely consideration. 
All student-athletes that apply are eligible for a $200 merit-based scholarship.
The admissions process is rolling. A non-refundable $300 deposit is due within two weeks of acceptance to reserve your place. 
Key Deadlines:
- June 1st - Deadline for Merit Scholarship
We are no longer accepting applications for financial aid. We do not have a separate financial aid application. You will be prompted to fill out your financial information in the regular application if you wish to apply for need-based aid. 
Cancellation Policy: Due to the contractual agreements and payment schedule of the institutions, resources and people that come together to create Sports Challenge, we are unable to offer any refunds for cancellations, of any kind, received within 30 days of the start date of the program.  
Still have questions? Contact us now!
Nominate An Athlete
Apply For Sports Challenge

Meet the staff

Sports Challenge’s coaching staff change lives. They are athletic professionals and collegiate-level athletes who are so dedicated to this work that they take personal vacation time to build the Strive community and nurture young leaders.

Read More +

Sports Challenge is overseen by Pam Herath, Strive’s Director of Curriculum and Programming, and Sabrina Zurkhulen, Sports Challenge Director. The Head of Teaching, Head of Residential Life, and five sports-specific Athletic Program Directors round out the Sports Challenge leadership team and are supported by 20-25 sports-specific coaches. The Sports Challenge coaching staff prepares for the program with four intensive days of training that includes a deep immersion in the Strive leadership curriculum and coaching/teaching development; team planning for practice sessions and collaborative work; and, most uniquely, time to review all student athlete materials in order to have a strong personal background on each athlete before they even set foot on campus.

Student athletes benefit from Strive’s coaching team because the program design attracts highly dedicated athletic professionals. Coaches immerse themselves as mentors and teachers in all aspects of the student athlete’s experience – eating together in the dining hall, hanging out during breaks, building individual relationships with student athletes, and delivering high impact training on and off the field. Our coaches are drawn to this opportunity because they themselves are character-driven leaders; they want to model and be a part of a strong, positive, high energy culture and Sports Challenge is a place where they too can be their best selves.

Coaching at the summer academy has impacted my life in more ways than I can explain…my colleagues there are some of the most unselfish, good-hearted people that I’ve ever met, that make me strive to be a better person…

— Miguel Barrera | SCLA Alum and Coach | Teacher and Coach at The Field School in Washington, DC

Sports Challenge Staff Photo

A Look INside Sports Challenge

See the highlights from Sports Challenge 2016 and our culture & impact video:


The most significant change in my life after Sports Challenge is my attitude toward myself.

— Finnian Day | Sports Challenge 2014

Sports Challenge was one of the essential programs that actually allowed me to come to Georgetown University, which is such a prestigious school, because the school looks for leaders that are resilient and motivated. And I feel like Sports Challenge actually prepared me for that.

— Elsa Lazo | Sports Challenge 2008-2012

[On being the first member of her family to go to college]...And then I remembered Sports Challenge and one of my coaches actually told me, ‘The best thing that makes you greater is when you show someone what they don’t expect from you.’ I feel like without Sports Challenge I wouldn’t have enough guts, or a mentality of leadership, to be the first one in an urban surrounding like this to actually go to a college like William and Mary.

— Tatiana Galeas | Sports Challenge 2010-2012

Back home, my team is really competitive and therefore after making mistakes we all tend to get down on ourselves. After coming here, I realized why I loved soccer so much – because it’s FUN! We all make mistakes and that’s what we learn from. Coming home, after meeting so many strong-willed and talented people, I’m bringing back ‘brush it off’ and the positive energy of [Sports Challenge].

— Alex Estrella | Sports Challenge 2014

Sports Challenge gave me a safe place where I could process my past year, build lasting friendships and excel. SportsChallenge has been an amazing, positive safe haven for me for 2 years. A place where I could step back and process my life, experience the feelings that I contain at home, and take risks both emotionally and physically that I otherwise wouldn’t.

— Katie Krupnick | Sports Challenge 2013-2014