15 Aug 2017

lessons from Stanford Athletics

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Stanford University has a long history in leading innovation across a variety of fields. In athletics, Stanford was the first major program to actively implement a full women’s program in accordance with Title IX and, back in the days of athletic director Joe Ruetz and football coach Bill Walsh, was one of the first programs to proactively identify and hire minority coaching candidates. These days, Stanford continues to innovate in athletics in both big and small, daily ways. I was intrigued, during my recent visit to Palo Alto, to learn from Shannon Turley about the practices and rituals he uses to connect different generations of Stanford football players. From their initial times on campus, Stanford student-athletes are connected to specific former players who they emulate in order to learn from them and gain inspiration and support from them. Intergenerational closure is indeed a critical aspect of the leadership, coaching, and performance that sustains the “Stanford Way” — and shows us all that it is possible to achieve competitive excellence in sports while adhering to the highest of academic standards.

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