By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Over 800 Oklahoma coaches from 238 communities teamed up with mentoring organizations across the state to participate in the fourth annual Oklahoma Coaches Mentoring Challenge, a campaign to encourage Oklahomans to mentor young people in their communities.
The 2017-18 campaign was spearheaded by OSU Coach Mike Gundy and OU Coach Lincoln Riley in collaboration with state mentoring organizations and the Boren Mentoring Initiative, a program of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.
During the campaign coaches from public and private elementary and secondary schools, as well as many colleges and universities in Oklahoma stepped up to endorse mentoring.
“As natural and group mentors, coaches know firsthand the impact that a mentor can have on the academic, social, emotional and economic futures of our young people,” said Beverly Woodrome, director of the Boren Mentoring Initiative, which helped coordinate the statewide mentoring campaign.
“Coaches consistently tell me they see students who are not involved in sports or organized school activities who would benefit from a mentor. By endorsing the Coaches Mentoring Challenge, they are sending a message that they value mentoring and see a critical need for more volunteers to spend an hour a week mentoring young people in their communities.”
The Coaches Mentoring Challenge began in 2008 as a friendly competition between mentoring advocates Coach Tom Osborne of the University of Nebraska and Coach Bill Snyder at Kansas State University. Since then, coaches from universities, colleges and secondary schools around the country have signed up to endorse mentoring.
MENTOR, the National Mentoring Partnership, estimates that one in three young people is in need of a mentor – someone to listen, to encourage and to set a positive example. “One of the greatest challenges facing mentoring programs in Oklahoma is the shortage of volunteers,” Woodrome said. “Mentors are needed to serve young people from Pre-K through young adults in college and career tech.
“The Coaches Mentoring Challenge has helped raise awareness about the need for more mentors across the state and has even generated some interest in starting new mentoring programs,” Woodrome added. “We are grateful to the many coaches and mentoring organizations that have stepped up to support this effort.”
Launched in 2006, the Boren Mentoring Initiative is a program of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, a statewide nonprofit that recognizes and encourages academic excellence in public schools.
Named for foundation founder and chairman David L. Boren and his wife, Molly, the initiative grew out of Boren’s commitment to mentoring and the impact it can have on a student’s success in and out of the classroom.
The initiative consists of a directory of over 170 mentoring organizations statewide that join together to recruit volunteers, offer resources and promote mentoring best practices.
The initiative invites all Oklahoma mentoring programs to participate free of charge. It provides free consulting and resources for groups seeking to create new mentoring programs and hosts Oklahoma Mentor Day, an annual event honoring outstanding mentors.
“We are happy to meet with schools, churches, businesses and others interested in starting a mentoring program in their community,” Woodrome said. “Through a statewide survey of mentoring organizations, we found that the most positive program outcomes were improved academic performance, positive mentor-mentee relationships, improved behavior, increased self-esteem and greater enrichment opportunities for participating youth.”
Oklahoma City coaches participating in the Coaches Mentoring Challenge include:
Randy Baker, retired girls’ basketball & girls’ softball coach, Crossings Christian School; Willie Batson, football, basketball and baseball coach, Millwood Public Schools; Matthew Black, high school football coach, Millwood Public Schools; Dan Burgess, head tennis coach/assistant football coach, Western Heights Public Schools; Mark Busich, cross country and track, Harding Charter Prep; Carlos Coppage, head girls’ basketball coach, Santa Fe South High School; Jack Dingus, defensive coordinator/coach, Crooked Oak Public Schools; Darwin Franklin, head football coach, Millwood Public Schools; Wayne Gorman, Oklahoma City businessman; Derrick Hightower, girls’ basketball coach, Millwood Public School; David Jackson, executive director, Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association; Nate Jones, head basketball and volleyball coach, Douglass High School; Jonathan Keathly, head football coach, Crossings Christian School; Zakee King, head softball and basketball coach, Crooked Oak Public Schools; Shatoya LaFitte, vendor, Oklahoma Correctional Industries; Shantel Leonard, volleyball and track coach, Millwood Public Schools; Gene McDonald, former coach, Crooked Oak Public Schools; John Mendenhall, high school football and track volunteer, Crossings Christian School; Cindy Nordyke, assistant athletic director, Oklahoma City Public Schools; Marcelle Oats, head basketball coach, Santa Fe South High School; Londaryl Perry, girls’ basketball coach, Millwood Public Schools; Scott Raper head boys’ basketball coach, Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School; Keith Sinor, district athletic director, Oklahoma City Public Schools; Travon Smith, assistant wrestling coach, Oklahoma City University;
Curtis Thompson, girls’ basketball coach and athletic director, Southeast High School;Tina Valentine, head cross country coach, Crossings Christian School; and Betty Wright, Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence trustee.
For a complete list of participating coaches, or to sign up, visit okcoacheschalenge.org. To learn more, contact Beverly Woodrome at 405-236-0006.