125 Team Captains! Our first Take the Lead retreat had the highest attendance in Urban Initiatives history. The Take the Lead Program challenges 5th-8th grade Team Captains to achieve academic growth and leadership ability through play and sport. Through Take the Lead, Team Captains engage in Work to Play practices, monthly mentoring, and five off site Retreats throughout the school year. The first retreat of the year took place at Oscar Mayer Elementary school and DePaul University on Saturday, September 24th. Leadership and Setting expectations for the school year were the themes for the day.
The retreat kicked off with a game of “Silent Lineup.” This activity teaches the importance of using your voice and how that is an important component of leadership. At first, Team Captains were asked to line up in order of height. Shortest on the left, tallest on the right. For this lineup, Captains were able to speak and position themselves strategically. The next lineup was in order of birthday month. The only difference was that they had to stay silent. They quickly found that it is easier to achieve a goal when you are communicating with your team as opposed to staying silent. After silent lineup, we were fortunate enough to have Coach Blazer and the DePaul men’s soccer team come out and speak to the kids. “As a student athlete, your performance off the field is just as important as your performance on the field.” said Coach Blazer during his talk to our Team Captains.
Players from the DePaul soccer team then participated in a push-up challenge with our team captains. Julian from PECS carried his team by putting up 120 pushups! While each group had to do 300 pushups. Julian stepped up for his team and carried much of the weight. From this activity, they learned that leading by example is a great type of leadership. His teammates were inspired to do more after the way he lead his group. He looked at Coach Eugene and said “that’s easy work Coach.”
A retreat would not be a retreat without soccer. Captains scrimmaged for an hour and had a blast. They certainly worked up an appetite from all of that running. We were able to eat lunch in the DePaul cafeteria, giving our Team Captains the full college experience. You can see many of the kids looking around in amazement at the beautiful DePaul college campus. Coach Ella, one of our OSPDs at Bateman, said “my son keeps talking about going to DePaul for college.” For many of our kids, being on the DePaul campus was so impactful. It’s not everyday that our Team Captains are exposed to an esteemed university campus and community.
To wrap up the retreat, Team Captains were invited to attend the DePaul men’s soccer game vs Creighton. They were cheering, laughing, and having fun throughout the whole game. After the game, our Captains stormed the field for an autograph session. Kids boarded the busses with posters and autographs of every player.
The first Take the Lead retreat was a huge success. Coach Eugene was immediately asked, “When is the next retreat?!” Captains are aware of what it takes to be a leader and of the high expectations that we have for them this year. We are looking forward to the next retreat at William Blair on 11/4.