Lessons from Leadersby: AFM Editorial Staff
© April 2014
At every NFL PREP 100 Series event, representatives of the National Guard present a program based on leadership development to all participating student-athletes. It gives players a chance to learn leadership skills and hear directly from an individual who is in a leadership position. It also provides the National Guard with an opportunity to educate athletes who may not pursue careers in football about the benefits of military service.
At a recent PREP100 Series event in Baltimore, Major Michael Krause of the Maryland Army National Guard spearheaded the leadership development session and provided additional insight about the benefits of the program.
What aspect your presentation do you feel impacted the participants the most?
For some kids who donít know where they will end up or what they want to do, I think we provided a viable alternative to paying for college and choices about possible career directions. I talked to at least two students who said they definitely want to join the military in some capacity as they progress.
Each athlete is allowed to bring one parent to accompany him to the PREP 100 event. What are the benefits of being able to address the participantsí parents?
Itís a great, non-threatening way to reach kids, since the primary objective of the day is football and leadership. What many kids and parents donít realize is how closely our values Ė the NFL and the National Guard - are aligned. Our army values - Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage -are the same values that the NFL would like to instill in their players, and that every parent would like their kids to grow up and live by. Whether they serve in the military or not, itís about creating great citizens.
Being a former athlete, what aspects of this program would have been valuable to you?
I think the exposure to something bigger. A vision of what itís like to be a professional athlete just gets these kids dreaming. In todayís society, itís hard to dream big. Sometimes, we just get comfortable in the situations we face every day and fail to realize what else we could be striving for. I hope this program encourages kids to think big, but to also understand the reality that theyíre not all going to be pro football players, and that there are other ways they can achieve success.
What did you enjoy most about the experience?
Speaking with the pro athletes and with the parents. I enjoy relating my personal story to parents, and how the military has helped me become the well-rounded officer, leader, and man that Iíd like to consider myself. Also, how the military pretty much paid for both my bachelorís degree and masterís degree with no student loan debt to worry about. Also, how the military has helped me travel the world and get experiences far beyond what my little home town of Wayne, New Jersey wouldíve provided me. On a personal note, itís great to meet former NFL players as well because, of course, weíre all just kids at heart!