More Than a Title: A Look at the Lady Titans Leadership Course

Kyle Brasher, Gibson Southern High School, Fort Branch, IN

Leaders. I think it is safe to say that every coach knows that to have great, championship level teams, they need great player leadership. I reflect back on the idea by Tom Izzo that the best teams are player-led teams. I remember when I was an assistant for the Gibson Southern boys program, we had a season where I thought we had great senior leadership, and I had a fear that after the season, we would really miss out on that leadership. I started to kick around the idea that to keep a steady stream of leadership in our program, our athletes needed to be taught, even shown, what it means and what it looks like to be a leader. That was the first step in the creation of the Lady Titan Leadership Course. 

The second step was reflecting back on how the teams I have always been a part of selected captains. I am sure every coach has been with a team where captains are selected one of two ways. Option 1: Seniors are your automatic captains. Option 2: Players vote on their captains, which ultimately becomes a popularity contest. I wanted to create a system which went against this norm. I believe being a captain should be an honor and a role that players should take seriously. I wanted this system to be one where players were selected, not based on popularity or what grade they were in, but based rather on their commitment to the role and their completion of a required curriculum. 

With those thoughts in the back of my mind, once I was hired as the head coach of Gibson Southern Girls Basketball, I made it a focus to equip as many players in our program as possible with the leadership skills necessary to not only be a captain on their basketball team, but also to be leaders in their lives beyond basketball. Thus, our Lady Titans Leadership Course was born.

The course utilizes readings from some of the leading minds in the industry like Alan Stein, Jay Bilas, Jon Gordon, James Clear, and many others. The readings are centered around topics which will help each girl in the course to learn leadership skills. Each reading is also accompanied by short assignments designed to really get our players engaging with the texts and concepts. This year, we want to put more focus on strong, female leadership, so I am pulling readings from legendary Tennessee coach, Pat Summit. Any player interested in being a captain can apply for the course. They then must show up for 6 sessions before school to have engaging conversations on our topics like “A Self-Aware Captain,” “A Passionate Captain,” or “A Disciplined Captain.” Our final session is a cumulative assignment in which each girl writes a capstone-type piece on why she should be a captain and includes evidence from all of our readings. We then empower all of the girls in the program to vote for their captains based on these capstone pieces without a name on them. We select our captains from this vote. The goal is for all of the girls who take the course, not just the ones who get elected as captains, to come out of it with great leadership skills that could help carry our program to the next level!

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