New Partner Update

New Partner Update

3 States Join Collective Effort to Train 1 Million Coaches in Youth Development Practices

[June 5, 2024 – Chicago, Illinois] – The Million Coaches Challenge (MCC), supported by the Susan Crown Exchange, announced expansion into three new states: Maryland, Indiana, and Kansas. Teams from these states will engage in an MCC State Learning Cohort guided by lessons learned from Coach Beyond, a collaborative of leaders in Ohio who recently led efforts to train 15,000 coaches and inform state-level policy improvements. The MCC State Learning Cohort will be facilitated by LiFEsports at The Ohio State University in partnership with the Ohio High School Athletic Association. Together, they will work to develop customized, statewide plans to train and support coaches in positive youth development practices by 2025.

Coach Beyond began in 2021 with a mission to revolutionize coach training and education in Ohio. Now, the program will leverage its expertise to support leaders in Maryland, Indiana, and Kansas in building a state-wide infrastructure to develop and improve coach education, policy, and training in their states.

In Maryland, a diverse group of leaders in youth sports, including University of Maryland’s (UMD) Department of Kinesiology, School of Public Health, and University Health Center, leaders from the National Center for School Mental Health, SHAPE America, Alston for Athletes, and other prominent UMD alumni will be meeting quarterly to audit the youth sport landscape. This includes conducting a state-wide needs assessment survey, training 7,500 coaches in positive youth development practices, and identifying opportunities to improve policy implementation and governance guiding youth sport.

“This work is more important than ever in Maryland as the state is looking to mandate mental health training for coaches, and rates of depression and anxiety among adolescents continue to rise.” Dr. Jay Goldstein, the state lead on the project stated. “A lot of good can come from this work that will ultimately be good for kids.”

In Indiana, Ball State University (BSU) will lead efforts to gather data, analyze policies, and provide training and education for coaches across the state. The focus will be on empowering youth sports organizations to provide the best possible experience for all participants. Researchers and practitioners at BSU, where 77% of educators in Indiana have a degree from, will work with community-based organizations and the Indiana High School Athletic Association to ensure all Indiana coaches have access to youth development training. Additionally, BSU will capitalize on infusing training on positive youth development into its degree programs, interprofessional education opportunities, and outreach channels across the state, presenting an incredible opportunity to support current professionals working in sport.

Dr. Jerry Reynolds, the project lead from BSU, stated, “This project is about empowering youth sports organizations and coaches to provide the best experience possible for all who participate in sports. Youth coaches and school leaders are essential to the well-being of Indiana’s children. This funding will give us a platform to assess and evaluate what is working well and will also provide the state team with the capacity to innovate.”

Kansas will bring together a team of leaders from the Kansas High School Activities Association (KSHSAA), the Greater Wichita Athletic League, Wichita Public Schools, and other local districts to gather state-wide data on gaps in coaches’ needs, interests, and most pressing concerns. Wichita, which is one of the largest and most diverse districts in Kansas, will take the lead on rolling out coach trainings focused on topics such as mental health and positive youth development.

Dr. Anne Weese, Director of Mental Wellness and Sport Psychology for Kansas State University shared “I have done several speaking engagements with coaches, administrators, and school staff across the state. After each talk, a line forms with questions and concerns from our school staff on how to help their students. Our coaches and administrators appear to be craving this type of training.”

Brent Unruh, KSHSAA Director of Operations, also reinforced this sentiment by stating, “Education-based activities are about the development and growth of the whole person, and we are excited about the potential of the Coach Beyond program becoming a tool to help Kansas coaches and schools achieve this mission.”

“We are excited to welcome representatives from leaders in Maryland, Indiana, and Kansas to the Million Coaches Challenge,” said Haviland Rummel, Executive Director of the Susan Crown Exchange. “By partnering to create these MCC State learning cohorts, we are confident that we can empower coaches in these states to ‘go beyond the X’s and O’s’ and create positive, equitable, and inclusive experiences for youth in sports.”

About The Million Coaches Challenge
The Million Coaches Challenge partners have embarked on a journey to grow a generation of coaches trained in youth development. Coach training is essential to creating quality sports experiences and we envision a world in which all young athletes, regardless of their family’s income, their gender, their race, or their ability status, have access to coaches who are well-versed in youth development and skill-building techniques that help kids succeed on and off the field. The first step: train one million coaches in youth development practices by 2025.

About LiFEsports at The Ohio State University
Since 2007, LiFEsports, a campus-wide initiative at The Ohio State University, has grown to address the ever-changing needs of our community’s youth and the field of sport-based positive youth development (PYD). Using in-person and online training modules, LiFEsports, through a partnership with the Ohio High School Athletic Association, developed Coach Beyond — a state-wide coach training and education program that has trained over 15,000 coaches in positive youth development practices. To learn more visit: