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Play Like a Champion Today 
Sports Leadership Conference

Thanks to all the attendees who made the 2024 Conference a tremendous success! Your engagement in this year's event and your inspiring leadership in communities across the country is a blessing. If you would like to access presentations and handouts from this year's conference, click here

Save the Date! Next year's Play Like a Champion Today Sports Leadership Conference will take place June 19-20, 2025 on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. This annual event will again bring together our national community to connect with each other, learn from an outstanding group of speakers and be inspired in our role as mentors for youth. Additional information regarding registration and schedules will be announced in January 2025.

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 summer's conference will once again offer particpants the opportunity to collaborate on strategies for building a brighter, healthier and more just sport culture for student-athletes. 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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Who Should Come? Administrators, coaches and community leaders involved in youth and high school sports or concerned with the health and well-being of children across America. This conference is for those who want to learn from experts, engage with peers, and find ways to take action in their own communities and schools. Whether you're an athletic director or coach, a business executive or a community leader, you will find valuable discussion, learning, and kinship at this unique annual gathering.

"This is my favorite conference I have attended."  - 2024 Participant

2024 Featured Speakers

The 2024 Play Like a Champion Conference featured an exciting lineup of speakers, from high level coaches and athletes to experts in the field of sports psychology, sports medicine and those making real change in the world of youth and high school sports. These were just a few of the men and women who join us this past year:

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Micah Shrewsberry

Head Coach, Notre Dame Men's Basketball

Shrewsberry was named the head coach of Notre Dame's men's basketball program in 2023 following a historic turnaround as head coach at Penn State and assistant roles with the Boston Celtics, Purdue University and Butler University. While an assistant at Butler, Shrewsberry helped guide the Bulldogs to back-to-back national championship game appearances before joining coach Brad Stevens in Boston, where the Celtics made five playoff appearances and two Eastern Conference Finals appearances during his time there. Known for his ability to develop athletes on and off the floor, Shrewsberry is widely praised for his character and values.

Joe Delagrave

Head Coach, USA Wheelchair Rugby

Two-Time Paralympic Athlete

After a live altering injury, Wheelchair Rugby became a positive outlet for the competitive fire that remained with Joe Delagrave. Having been named to the United States National Team for 13 consecutive years, Delagrave now serves as the team's head coach. The only athlete to ever earn the USQRA Athlete of the Year Award twice, Delagrave participated on 3 World Championship teams (2010 Gold, 2014 Bronze and 2018 Bronze) and 2 Paralympic teams (2012 Bronze, 2020 Silver). He also served as a co-captain of the the team for 8 years. With a passion for leadership, Delagrave has made it his goal to inspire others, getting the most out of his teams and those he speaks to.

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Karrah Herring, J.D.

State of Indiana

Chief Equity, Inclusion and Opportunity Officer

Karrah Herring is a native and resident of South Bend, IN and a proud graduate of the South Bend Community School Corporation. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Communications/Public Relations from Purdue University and her Juris Doctorate from Valparaiso University School of Law. In 2020, Indiana governor Eric Holcomb appointed  Karrah to his cabinet as Indiana’s first-ever Chief Equity, Inclusion and Opportunity Officer for the state. In this role, she works with the governor and his team to improve state government operations as well as remove hurdles in the government workplace and services the state provides. Her team's work focuses on growing statewide access and opportunity in education and economic development and enhancing employee experiences within Indiana state government’s executive branch. Prior to joining Governor Holcomb's team, Karrah worked for the University of Notre Dame for nearly a decade, serving as the Director of the Office of Institutional Equity and University Title IX Coordinator, then as the Director of Public Affairs in the Office of Public Affairs and Communications. The recipient of numerous awards, Karrah has also served on a number of different boards and committees in her distinguished career.

Dr. Hillary Cauthen

Clinical Sport Psychologist, Former Division I College Track Athlete

Dr. Hillary Cauthen is a clinical sport psychologist based in Austin, TX. A Division I college track athlete, she studied and competed at the University of New Hampshire, and Miami, Ohio, before completing her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, in Los Angeles. Dr. Cauthen is a Co-Founder of Texas Optimal Performance & Psychological Services and formerly served as the Director of Organizational Wellness & Performance for Austin FC (MLS Soccer) and as the performance psychologist for the San Antonio Spurs, where she developed their mental performance and wellness programs. Dr. Cauthen has developed private businesses that bring mental wellness curriculum to school districts across the nation, as well as an analytics company that helps predict the behavioral risk factors in players for teams in the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, and Premier League. Her work with high performance is breaking down stigma across communities which is highlighted in her newly published book, Hello Trauma, Our Invisible Teammate.

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Dr. Nicole M. LaVoi

Director, Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport

Nicole M. LaVoi, Ph.D. is a Senior Lecturer of social and behavioral sciences in the School of Kinesiology at the University of Minnesota and the Director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport. Through action-oriented collaborative research, she translates data and answers critical questions that can make a difference in the lives of girls and women. As a leading scholar on gender, leadership and women coaches, Dr. LaVoi has published 100+ book chapters, research reports and peer-reviewed articles in top-rated journals. Her Outstanding Academic Title award-winning book Women in Sports Coaching, the annual Women in College Coaching Report Card™ and Emmy-nominated documentary GAME ON: Women Can Coach help inform countless stakeholders who changing the system for women sport coaches. She is the Product Manager of Coaching HER®, and co-creator of Body Confident Sport, free tools to upskill coaches to more effectively coach girls. She is an award-winning athlete, coach, scholar, and distinguished teacher, 2013 regional Emmy winner for Best Sport Documentary, two-time Hall of Fame inductee and was named a 2023 USTA Champion of Equality. LaVoi played collegiate tennis at Gustavus Adolphus College winning a NCAA-III National Team Championship.

Derek Brown

Founder and Head Coach, Boxing Out Negativity

Derek Brown is the founder and head coach of Boxing Out Negativity, an anti-violence program that empowers Chicago's most at-risk youth to realize the best within themselves. He leads both a team of coaches and an outreach team that hosts talking/peace circles with parents, youth, and others throughout the community, schools, and the Cook County Jail.  Coach Brown also serves as Restorative Justice Coordinator at St. Agatha Church. His work has been featured by outlets including CNN, ABC News, and Vice News.

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Hannah Hidalgo

Student-Athlete, University of Notre Dame

A member of the 2024 Associated Press All-American 1st Team, Hidalgo just completed her freshman year at the University of Notre Dame. The standout guard led the nation in steals with 4.6 per game while taking Notre Dame Women's Basketball to a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Along the way she also racked up an impressive set of awards, including ACC Rookie of the Year, ACC Defensive Player of the Year, ACC Tournament MVP and the 2024 Dawn Staley Award, given annually to the best guard in the country. The Film, Television and Theatre major set Notre Dame records for steals, points per game, and free throw attempts per game.

Annual Pre-Conference Retreat

Our 10th annual pre-conference spiritual retreat was themed "Sacred Echoes" and was held on the Wednesday before the 2024 Conference. 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 allows participants to experience the beautiful campus of the University of Notre Dame 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 in 2025! 

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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. 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 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."

Registration for 2025 Coming Soon!
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