Play Like a Champion Today 
Sports Leadership Conference

Mark your calendar: The 2023 Conference will be held June 15-16, 2023. Stay tuned for more details!

We were thrilled to gather together again in person for the 2022 Play Like a Champion Today Sports Leadership Conference on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. We were excited to be together with our national community to connect with each other, learn from a great group of speakers and be inspired. 

2023 Conference Theme:

Sport for All: Stronger Together

The Play Like a Champion Today Sports Leadership Conference is the premiere annual gathering of youth and high school athletic administrators, coaches and leaders from across North America. The conference celebrates the three pillars of connection, education and inspiration. The event provides a unique opportunity to interact in kinship with like-minded sport leaders while learning core elements of the Play Like a Champion approach to developing the whole athlete. The fantastic speakers and stimulating break-out groups are sure to inspire all! This year's theme will present research-based information focusing on the whole health of every athlete - helping them grow socially, mentally, morally as well as physically for a lifetime. We will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX which occurs this June. Our community seeks to build a brighter, healthier and more just youth sport culture where ALL children have the opportunity to participate in a positive environment which encourages them to become their individual best while being transformed by a collective team experience.

A Team for Every Child Roundtable Discus

"This conference was outstanding! I was a first time participant and loved the content. I can use it both at a professional and personal level."

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Click to Read More About the

2022 Conference!

The 2022 Conference Schedule is Now Available!

*All times for Retreat and Conference are Eastern Daylight Time. Subject to change.

The 2022 Conference features a number of great opportunities to experience the beautiful campus of the University of Notre Dame and its state-of-the-art facilities. Enjoy our banquet dinner in the Dahnke Ballroom that overlooks historic Notre Dame Football Stadium. Saturday features a tour of the Compton Ice Arena locker room facilities followed by the popular Play Like a Champion Olympics. While on campus, we invite you to explore the famous Golden Dome, take a photo of "Touchdown Jesus", visit the Snite Museum, light a candle at the grotto, take a jog around St. Joseph Lake and have a pint at the local Irish Pub. Guests will find plenty of fun things to do outside the conference schedule!

Featured Speakers

Darrell "Flash" Gordon


A native of Hillside, New Jersey, Darrell "Flash" Gordon was a starting outside linebacker on Notre Dame's 1988 National Championship football team. He earned his degree in Economics & Business from Notre Dame before going on to receive his Masters and Juris Doctorate. Since 2001, Darrell has served as CEO/President of the Wernle Youth & Family Treatment Center in Indiana which serves the growth and development of troubled youth and their families. His extraordinary leadership and determination have transformed that organization and earned him a number of national awards. As an author, speaker, and business leader, Darrell has appeared on many national talk shows, news broadcasts, and commercials discussing topics on youth development, student-athletic success, dealing with change, organizational development and the need for character.

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Dr. Carrie Hastings


Dr. Carrie Hastings is a licensed clinical and sport psychologist, specializing in mental skills & performance enhancement for athletes, psychological and neuropsychological testing, and individual therapy for all ages. Dr. Hastings maintains a private practice and is the Mental Health Clinician for the NFL Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams. A hurdler and sprinter at the University of Notre Dame, she regularly presents to national audiences on topics such as Trauma-Sensitive Coaching, Depression & Suicide among Athletes, Bullying & Hazing, and Coaching Athletes with ADHD and Autism. Dr. Hastings is a Certified Mental Performance Consultant with the Association for Applied Sport Psychology and is listed in the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Sport Psychology and Mental Training Registry. She's a long-time Play Like a Champion Trainer & Research Specialist in the Los Angeles area.

Dr. Amanda Zelechoski


Dr. Amanda Zelechoski is a licensed clinical and forensic psychologist and attorney, specializing in trauma. In addition to serving as professor of psychology and Director of Clinical Training at Purdue University Northwest, she is also co-founder of the nonprofit organization, Pandemic Parenting. Zelechoski’s research examines the intersection between psychology, law, and trauma, particularly for underserved populations. This includes evaluating psychological and forensic assessment methods, as well as working across systems to implement evidence-based, trauma-informed practices. Most recently, she conducted research on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and parents, which led to the creation of Pandemic Parenting, a free digital resource platform and non-profit organization. 

Ana Sierra


Ana Sierra is the Founder & CEO of the Ana Sierra Women’s Basketball League (ASWBL) and Sierra Dreams in Chicago, IL. Over 6 years, the ASWBL has grown into one of the largest annual women's pro-am basketball leagues in Chicago and now features youth mentorship programming and skill development for girls agest 8-18. The mission, of these organizations is to bring visibility to female athletes while leading, inspiring and empowering their journey on and off the court. A native of New York City, Sierra fell in love with the game of basketball at a young age, playing through college and semi-professionally while pursuing a career in business and entrepreneurship. She's also actively involved in the North Lawndale Athletic and Recreation Association, striving to build a "greater Chicago" by curbing violence and serving at-risk youth in inner city communities through basketball and youth development programming.

Pray with us at our Annual Pre-Conference Retreat!
The 2023 Retreat will be held on Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Our 9th annual pre-conference spiritual retreat will be held on Wednesday, June 14th beginning at 1:15 pm EDT. The retreat theme is an opportunity for busy athletic leaders to pause after two challenging years, reflect on the graces they have encountered, and "refill" their cup so that they can continue to pour themselves out to the athletes and staff entrusted to their care. The retreat will allow participants to experience the beautiful campus of the University of Notre Dame (weather permitting) while providing time for prayer, reflection and discussion. Those interested in participating may register as part of registration for the full Leadership Conference. We hope to see you there!

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Play Like a Champion is committed to assuring that all children have an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of youth sports in a safe and fun environment. Through our annual conference, coach and parent education, and initiatives like A Team for Every Child, this work is improving the lives of children in communities across the country. COVID-19 has created an even greater need for our partner communities and we can't do this alone. If you are unable to make the conference this year, please still consider a tax-deductible donation of $100 or more to support Play Like a Champion's mission. Click the link below to donate today! 

What are people saying about the Play Like a Champion Today Conference?

100% of participants attending our last in person conference said it met or exceeded their expectations.

“I love the feeling of family this conference leaves you with.”


“It’s always the people at the conference and the opportunity to engage in discussions with them about how they live out this mission within their own schools and leagues that is powerful. This is a phenomenal group committed to the well-being of our children and the mission of virtue driven sports. It’s your biggest asset as a program and this conference allows the group to get together in one place and interact.”

“Seeing the conference first-hand was great. Athletics today really needs your message! Great values and strong character can and should be the results of an athletic program, but they have to be at the forefront of the program. You are reinforcing those concepts to all of your participants and that will be a great help to all the kids playing in their programs!”


“ I met such wonderful people from all over the place. I gained great new ideas from them and different perspectives on life. Also, the conference was very well run and professional by a wonderful organization with such committed energetic people.


“This is a fantastic conference that exceeded my expectations. It was organized and professional. The speakers were very impactful and inspiring! All the content was relevant, informative and thought provoking. The conference created collaboration with seminar formats and close interaction with presenters and colleagues.”


“It is a summer ritual to attend the conference to be inspired and motivated to prepare for another year in coaching and education.”

"I loved the subject matter of this conference – it was both informative and inspirational. These are subjects most people are uncomfortable discussing and the conference presented it in a very positive and professional light."

Modified 2021 Virtual Conference Program

​The 2021 conference featured an outstanding group of speakers who are experts in coaching, community sports development and moral and spiritual leadership. Attendees had the opportunity to interact in breakout sessions that inspired a renewed vision for youth sports and challenged each of us to take action in our communities. Click the program link to view more information about the 2021 schedule and conference sessions. Videos of select sessions can be found online via the links below:

Day 1 Conference Sessions (June 23, 2021)

Day 2 Conference Sessions (June 24, 2021)

"With the news of COVID-19 bombarding our news feeds on a daily basis, it was so refreshing to take a step back and focus on the big picture of sports, and where we want to go long term." 

~ 2020 Virtual Conference Attendee

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