Rays, Lightning help start local Positive Coaching Alliance chapter

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Wed. January 22, 2014 | Matt Baker | Email

TAMPA — Soon after Hillsborough County started mandating positive coaching seminars, district athletic director Lanness Robinson began hearing the same thing from some of his longtime coaches.

They wished they had this information 30 years ago.

“That tells you there’s a little bit different mind-set,” Robinson said.

That mind-set could be spreading across Tampa Bay.

The Rays and Lightning have joined with the Triad Foundation to start a local chapter of the Positive Coaching Alliance, a California-based non-profit organization dedicated to improving youth sports.

“Our mission is to change the culture of high school and youth sports in this country,” PCA founder Jim Thompson said Wednesday during a news conference to announce his group’s 11th chapter. “And we just can’t do that if we don’t have a big presence in Florida.”

Thompson said the alliance offers many seminars to try to teach coaches how to keep players positive during losing streaks — or keep them from getting too cocky during winning streaks.

Messages also focus on getting parents to support coaches and helping children learn that competing is important, but it’s not everything.

“It’s not necessarily just about winning games,” said Elizabeth Frazier, the Lightning’s vice president of philanthropy and community initiatives. “It’s about using sports to teach life lessons.”

Hillsborough County has required its coaches to attend two-hour seminars each of the last four years. The district has offered similar sessions for students and parents.

Robinson said the early results are positive: fewer ejections and less complaining from coaches.

“Any time you’re making a culture change, it’s a slow change, process,” Robinson said. “But definitely you can see the receptiveness of all of our coaches of understanding what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Rays president Matt Silverman said the new chapter’s business is already starting. The board of directors held its first meeting at the Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club after the news conference.

The next steps will include hiring a local executive director to begin sharing its messages with school districts and youth sports leagues.

“It’s not about resolving issues,” Silverman said. “It’s about improving conditions.”

Matt Baker can be reached at mbaker@tampabay.com or on Twitter @MattHomeTeam.

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