Play Like a Champion Today 

National Sports Leadership Conference

Save the Date: June 26-27, 2020

The Play Like a Champion Sports Leadership Conference is the premiere gathering of youth and high school athletic administrators and coaches from across North America. Held on the beautiful campus of the University of Notre Dame, experience two days filled with knowledge and interaction with the brightest minds in the industry. 

The 2019 conference theme, A Team for Every Child challenged participants to create opportunities for all children to participate in a developmentally-focused sports experience that changes lives for the good.

Drawing on cutting edge research and the wisdom of accomplished coaches and administrators, this conference focused on how sports organizations can most effectively promote athlete welfare and whole development.  Experts presented proven strategies for providing athletes, whatever their ability level or family income may be, with opportunity and a safe and welcoming environment.

Professional development was offered with an emphasis on fostering children and adolescents’ motivation, teamwork, and decision-making. This conference is a unique opportunity to network, share best practices, and collaborate with other concerned leaders to improve sports across America. 

Thanks to everyone who attended the 2019 Play Like a Champion Today Sports Leadership Conference! Your presence helped make this year's conference another tremendous event. Those who attended can access presentation videos using their password by clicking here


Save the Date! The 15th Annual Play Like a Champion Conference will be held

June 26-27, 2020!

Featured speakers included coaching experts, medical and mental health professionals, and moral and spiritual leaders, as well as youth, high school and collegiate coaches and faculty addressing the topics in sport. The Conference also provided an in-depth introduction to the Play Like a Champion philosophy for those who want to apply the approach to their organization and a special track for those who want to become Certified Trainers in the Play Like a Champion Today Educational Series network.

2019 Featured Speakers 

Devon Still

An All-American college football player who spent 5 years in the NFL, Still is an author, motivational speaker, and advocate for childhood health and development. 

Molly Sliney

A member of the 1988 & 1992 United States Olympic Fencing Teams, Sliney was Notre Dame's 1980's Female Athlete of the Decade.

Dana Cavalea

The former Director of Strength & Conditioning for the New York Yankees, Cavalea is a high performance speaker and consultant in business and athletics.

Paul Roetert

The Director of Education and Strategic Engagement for the NCAA Sport Science Institute, Roetert recently served as the CEO of SHAPE America and was a United States Olympic Committee member.

Javier Chavez & Alegria Castro
Javier has been at Homeboy Industries since 2012, beginning as a trainee and working now as a Senior Navigator. Alegria serves on the staff of Homeboy Industries as Community Outreach Manager. Javier will share his redemptive stories as he and Alegria relate the work of Homeboy to the Play Like a Champion mission. 
LaTonya Pinkard

A college professor who gained national recognition in the Netflix documentary Last Chance U, Pinkard is an advocate for student-athlete welfare.


Anthony Ianni

Believed to be the first Big10 basketball player diagnosed with Autism, Ianni won two conference championships and is a graduate of Michigan State University.


Joanna Cote Thurman

A 3-time IronMan Finisher and High School Cross Country & Track Coach, Thurman created a running program for Homeboy Industries that serves previously incarcerated men and women.

Frank Allocco

An Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director at the University of San Francisco, Allocco played football & basketball at Notre Dame under Ara Parseghian and Digger Phelps.

Bruce Scifres

A legendary Indianapolis high school football coach and 6-time state champion, Scifres is now the Executive Director of the CYO of Indianapolis.

Jamyle Cannon

A National Collegiate Boxing Champion and Founder of The Bloc, Cannon’s goal is to use the discipline of boxing to support the academic, social and developmental needs of Chicago's teens.

2019 Session Themes

"A Team for Every Child"

It's Game Time: The Adversity Playbook

Realize Your Dream: Set Goals & Believe in Yourself

Habits of a Champion: Improving Leadership & Life Skills for Success

The Devastating Reality of "Pay to Play" Athletics

Relentless: Eradicating Bullying within Athletics

Real Lessons Learned from Sports

Yoga for Student-Athletes and their Coaches

Coaching for Christ

Collegiate Coach Panel: Coaches TBA

Round-table Discussions: Best Practices for Coaches & Administrators and Like-Minded Networking

Increasing Mental Toughness & Resiliency

in Student-Athletes

Benefits of Multi-Sport Participation

Trauma Sensitive and Responsive Coaching

Reaching and Serving Under-served Athletes

Increasing Opportunities for Play

Mindful Self-Compassion Skills for Athletes

Homeboy Industries: A Kinship Story

A Team for Every Child:

Separate but Not Equal

Play Like a Champion Coach and Parent Curriculum for New Partners

Inspiration for the Sports Enthusiast

More Topics To Be Announced!

“What a wonderful time I had at the conference!  It was the best conference I've ever been to and something I will never forget.” - 2018 Conference Participant

The Play Like a Champion Leadership Conference Provides Attendees with:
  • Mastery of Play Like a Champion Today coaching philosophy & materials.

  • A comprehensive “game plan” for elevating the moral climate of youth sport in schools and organizations.

  • The knowledge and resources to lead Play Like a Champion Today Workshops for coaches and parents in schools & community settings.

  • Membership in a national community of ethically-minded sports leaders.

  • A plan to reach out to vulnerable children through sports.

  • Meals and tours of some the University of Notre Dame's premier facilities.

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

“We believe every child has a right to play. If someone has the right to play, coaches have a special duty. This conference, its attendees, panelists, speakers, partner presenters and coaches opened the door to so much great information. I've come home and researched all of the above people, bought books, read articles and picked up a movie. The conference hasn't stopped for me.”  

~ 2017 Conference Participant

“Thank you so incredibly much for an insightful and informative conference at Play Like a Champion.  It is an honor to attend every year, and I hope you and the staff know what an impact you each make in sports. I am grateful for all that I learn, and I look forward to continuing to attend every summer.”  ~ 2018 Conference Participant

"I was very happy to have been part of it. There were so many excellent speakers and valuable information and community shared. I only wish I had known about it years sooner.”  ~ 2018 Conference Participant

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Play Like a Champion Today Educational Series

Contact Us

Tel: 574-250-6424

PO Box 72, Notre Dame, IN 46556


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