Play Like a Champion Today
Sports Leadership Conference
Join us June 15-16, 2023 at the University of Notre Dame
2023 Conference Theme: Sport for All: Stronger Together
We are excited to gather again in June for the 2023 Play Like a Champion Today Sports Leadership Conference on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. This annual event brings together our national community to connect with each other, learn from a great group of speakers and be inspired.
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, with each year offering a unique opportunity to interact in kinship with like-minded sport leaders while learning core elements of the Play Like a Champion approach. The fantastic speakers and stimulating break-out groups are sure to inspire all! This year's theme will expand upon Play Like a Champion's recent involvement in the 2022 Vatican Summit: Sport for All, with attendees collaborating on strategies for building a brighter, healthier and more just youth sport culture where ALL children have the opportunity to participate and develop! Join us to learn from an exciting group of speakers and interact with an amazing network of leaders from our national community!
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"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."
2023 Conference Schedule
*All times for Retreat and Conference are Eastern Daylight Time. Subject to change.
The 2023 Conference will once again feature a number of great opportunities to experience the beautiful campus of the University of Notre Dame and its state-of-the-art facilities. Attendees can look forward to our annual banquet dinner in the Downes Ballroom while overlooking the historic Notre Dame Football Stadium, as well as many other fun activities to be announced! 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 or have a pint at the local Irish Pub. Guests will find many fun things to do outside the conference schedule!
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2023 Conference Program!
A senior captain on Notre Dame's 1985 football team, Mike Golic enjoyed 8 years as a defensive lineman in the NFL before embarking on more than three decades (and counting) in sports media. From 2000-2017 his voice greeted American sports fans each weekday morning as one-half of the popular duo Mike & Mike on ESPN Radio and ESPN2, where his experience and passion for all things sports gained the show a legion of fans. Golic has since served as an analyst for college and professional football while appearing on a variety of popular shows and hosting a podcast. Alongside his wife Christine and three children, Golic is active with the family's non-profit Golic Family Foundation, which provides grants and financial assistance to organizations in the local community.
Priscilla Frederick Loomis is a dynamic speaker, entrepreneur and Olympian, having recently retired after a Track & Field career that saw her compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics and become a two-time Pan Am Games medalist. Priscilla brings the "Olympic Mindset" to everyday life, working with high school and college student-athletes as well as professionals from the business world to help them find purpose, overcome obstacles, and become the best versions of themselves. A wellness advocate and purveyor of positive energy, she has more than 10 years' experience as an athlete, speaker, content creator and coach. Through the Priscilla E. Frederick Foundation, she helps to assist single parent households with their children's education while offering relief and assistance to individuals, families and communities in need. You can learn more about Priscilla by clicking here.
LaVont'e Stewart earned a degree in Computer Science from Chicago State University and his Master's in Public Administration from DePaul University. Having specialized in gang intervention and violence prevention for the Black United Fund of Illinois, he also worked for six years in the Illinois General Assembly. Stewart founded Lost Boyz Inc. in 2009 when he felt a call-to-action after witnessing how antisocial behavioral patterns and local violence were increasingly impacting area youth. Having experienced firsthand the profound impact baseball can have on a child’s development, he rallied the community around organized youth baseball. The organization added softball in 2014. Today, Lost Boyz provides sports-based youth development to help boys and girls ages 4-24 in Chicago's under-resourced neighborhoods develop confidence, resilience, and life skills. Says Stewart, “We want to win, but at the end of the day, I always tell people as long as we got these kids in here and they’re developing themselves, we’ve already won. No matter what happens on that field, we’re already flying the W.”
Icy Jones is the Executive Director of America SCORES, which inspires youth to "lead healthy lives, be engaged students, and have the confidence and character to make a difference in the world." SCORES serves more than 13,000 students at more than 300 public and charter schools in 11 major cities, integrating soccer, poetry and service to impact youth. Jones has held leadership roles in numerous education, nonprofit, and government agencies. Before joining SCORES, he served as the Director of Policy for the Maryland Department of Human Services Social Services Administration and previously worked for the Baltimore City Department of Social Services and the Philadelphia Education Fund.
Kevin Triskett was named the Executive Director of America SCORES Chicago in June 2022, following more than 15 years working in nonprofit and foundation sectors across Chicago. Triskett works closely with his staff to serve students in some of Chicago's most underserved communities, using soccer, poetry and service to impact kids and the community around them. Before joining SCORES, Triskett spent nearly seven years in program operations at Start Early, a nonprofit champion for quality early learning and care, focused on closing the opportunity gap for our young learners. He also previously worked at the Chicago State University Foundation, playing an integral role in advancing the interest and welfare of CSU by building relationships, securing philanthropic support, stewarding assets and otherwise procuring private support on behalf of the University.
Andrea was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She grew up playing sports and became a student athletic trainer throughout college; she not only has experience in athletics, but a passion for it. Andrea graduated from the University of Hawai’i with a Bachelor’s in Kinesiology and is now pursuing a Masters in Sports Psychology at Pepperdine University. She is committed to helping athletes learn how to improve their sports performance and mental well-being with mindfulness and practice. Andrea believes in taking a collaborative approach to helping them reach their goal and improve their wellbeing. She is currently a practitioner at Sport Psychology north of Los Angeles, where her work focuses on individuals learning to cope with trauma, grief, depression, and anxiety.
Fabian Debora is the Executive Director of Homeboy Art Academy. Born in El Paso, TX, he began his career in 1995 as a member of the East Los Angeles Streetscapers, where he was mentored by many Chicano artists and muralists, and was introduced to creative expressions of all forms. Debora’s work has now been showcased in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad, including Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Brooklyn, and throughout Latin America. He served as a counselor and the Director of Substance Abuses Services & Programming as well as a mentor at Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles for a decade, then moved on to worked as Community Connection Director at Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network. He also works in collaboration with Latino Producers Action Network (LPAN) as the Art Director, and is an instructor for community artists and students throughout Boyle Heights.
Dr. Jenny Conviser
Jenny H. Conviser Psy.D is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, as well as the Founder of Ascend Consultation In Health Care. A Certified Mental Performance Consultant, she holds a master's degree in Exercise Science from Northern Illinois University, and spent 7 years as the Head Gymnastics Coach at the University of Wisconsin. Today, Dr. Conviser works with athletes, musicians, parents and coaches across the nation to assist them in achieving excellence in performance, including US Figure Skating National Champion and 2014 Olympian Gracie Gold. In addition, Conviser has served on the Advocacy and Communication Committee for the Academy of Eating Disorders (AED), conducts research and participates in policy development toward the prevention and awareness of eating disorders. Learn more about Dr. Conviser by clicking here.
Bishop Paul Tighe
Born in Navan, Ireland, Bishop Paul Tighe has long been known as the Vatican's "Media Guru", having been named Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications in 2007 before being appointed by Pope Francis to his current role as the Secretary of the Dicastery for Culture and Education in 2017. The Dicastery is home to the Catholic Church's efforts to engage sport and works for the development of human values while considering how faith, religion and the Church interact with society. Bishop Tighe has spent much of the last 20 years looking at how an increasingly digital culture is changing the world and how to better communicate in that world. Doing so has meant working both in the Vatican as well as traveling across the world to dialogue with leaders. He celebrates 40 years since his ordination as a priest this year and was consecrated a bishop in 2016.
Dr. Matt Hoven
Matthew Hoven is a professor at St. Joseph's College, University of Alberta and an author of the 2022 book On the 8th Day, A Catholic Theology of Sport. His work focuses on the educational dynamic within religion and the religious dynamic in education, exploring forms of religious education that range from schools or parishes to the ice rink or basketball court. Hoven says that "People often overlook historical and contemporary connections between sport and religion. They downplay sport's significance or limit religion's reach. I want to change that." Raised in rural, central Alberta, Hoven earned his education degree from the University of Alberta and his Doctorate in Religious Education from Catholic University of America. He lives in Edmonton with his wife and three children, who he also helps to coach. Learn more about Matt by clicking here.
JP Abercrumbie joined Notre Dame Athletics in February 2022 as the Executive Associate Athletics Director, Culture & Engagement, leading organizational culture, diversity, equity, inclusion, and various operational effectiveness efforts. Abercrumbie’s role includes active relationship building with student-athletes, coaches, staff, campus & industry colleagues, the local community and alumni. Managing key initiatives of the AD’s office, Abercrumbie serves as chair of the Athletics Leadership Team and influences all aspects of the department. Prior to Notre Dame, Abercrumbie served as the Associate AD for SOAR/Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer at Rice University. Her career also features stops at Mississippi State University, University of California, Berkeley, and Temple University. A Chicagoland native, Abercrumbie competed in track and field at Temple University, graduating with honors in linguistic anthropology. She holds a Master’s in the Cultural Studies of Sport in Education from the University of California, Berkeley.
Justin Becht is the Director of Futsal for Indiana Soccer, focusing on the growth and development of Futsal at all age levels and ages in Indiana. Born and raised in Milroy, Indiana, Becht moved to Indianapolis to attend IUPUI for Sports Management. It was there that he was introduced to the game of futsal through his work at Indy Parks. The work gave him purpose and a new mission to provide access to soccer and futsal to communities that are underserved by the existing soccer structure. In 2015, Becht was appointed Director of Indiana Futsal under the Indiana Soccer Assocation. Over the past eight years the organization has worked to serve Indiana communities through place making, in-school programming, capacity building, and public advocacy.
Annual Pre-Conference Retreat
From Busyness to Being: Creating Space for God in our Hectic Lives
Join Us 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 is an opportunity for athletic leaders to pause after a busy year, reflect on the graces they have encountered, and re-energize 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!
Want to Join the 2023 Conference But Can't Be at Notre Dame?
A live streaming option is available for all conference sessions located in the Jordan Hall Auditorium (Thursday) and McKenna Hall 215/216. To register for this option, simply click the main registration link on this page and select the live stream option from during registration. Additional information and instructions for viewing conference sessions will be emailed to you prior to the conference.
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."