Student. Athlete. Graduate.

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If you haven’t seen her videos promoting our upcoming Handshake America Celebration at the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, OH on June 20, you need to meet Tololupe “Tolu” Omokore. Tolu is our Handshake America intern and is driving the awareness campaign for the upcoming Celebration! Perseverance, Passion, Positivity, People, and Presence are the foundation of everything we do. Tolu is a student, an NCAA athlete, and now a graduate of the University of Central Florida and in just a few words you’ll see how she embodies each of the 5P’s.

Student: Tolu graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in Human Communications with a 4.0 this past semester and has been on the Dean’s list 3 years running!

Graduate: I used “running” because she was accepted into the UCF DeVos Sports Business Management Graduate Program, so in her continuing education, she has the opportunity to continue her academic success!

Athlete: This past season, as a Senior academically, the 5’ 11” Redshirt Junior played Forward for the UCF Knights Women’s Basketball team. Recognized on and off the court, #25 made the American Athletic Conference Honor Roll and has a knack for keeping things light and positive while taking care of business. She’s been a part of making the people and teams around her better since early on, winning two State Titles at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Maryland.

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So, why the Redshirt designation, you ask? Tolu tore her ACL and missed the entire 2017-2018 season. That was a tough loss for the Knights. They went on to battle to a 22-11 season, but when she returned in 2018, the Knights caught fire. Despite the injury and setback, she stayed positive, persevered, and made her presence known on the court. They went 26-6 (13-3, The American) and earned their first at large NCAA tournament bid. Tolu will forgo her final season of eligibility to concentrate on her Master’s program and career.

It may be no surprise to anyone who meets her, but Tolu says she identifies most with Positivity. Why? She loves being able to bring positive energy to people who need it. Watch for her video updates on social media leading up to National Handshake Day and the Handshake America Celebration.

Join us for the Celebration on June 20 and join us in congratulating one of our own on her past, present, and future success! Congratulations, Tolu!

Matt Draudt

Perseverance: 2019

Shift.”
— Daniel Juday
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What do you do? What do you do when you lose a loved one, a parent, a friend? What do you do when a foreign government takes your child out of your arms (true story)? What do you do when your family moves you halfway around the world, or even just to a new part of town? What do you do when the rest of your team sucks, but you don’t? What do you do when an injury takes you off the field for the rest of the season? What do you do when you write an entire blog entry on Perseverance, then go to a mind-blowing session and realize you need to rewrite the blog? You shift.

I’ve been to a lot of meetings and sessions at Handshake - all of them good - but something was special about Tuesday night. Cody Martin presided over and hosted the last Perseverance session at PNC Bank’s Mortgage division in Dublin. Our guest speaker, Daniel Juday (if the name sounds familiar that’s because he is the younger but taller brother of Columbus’ chapter president, Joel Juday), shared his experiences of family, travel, and the universality of the human experience across the ethnic and global spectrum. And he introduced a concept that is the underpinning of Perseverance, the first of our 5Ps: Shift.

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We are all going through something. Ask anybody. We heard some deeply moving accounts of the tragedies that life can hand us. Some worse than others, but there’s no use comparing because there will always be and have always been far worse and far more tragic. That’s not to bring you down, though. Remember, Perseverance is the theme, here, and Passion and Positivity are in the batter’s box and on deck. Stay with me.

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How many times do you have to change course in a day? How about in a year, or in your lifetime? Perseverance as a concept assumes there will be resistance to encounter, battles to fight, and losses to deal with. Perseverance is not just about pushing forward no matter the force that is pushing back, it’s about finding a way over, under, around, and through the barriers we face. It’s also about evaluating your goals and shifting your priorities, mindset, and attitude as life comes at you, as it ebbs and flows - to decide if what’s on the other side of the barrier is truly worth the pursuit, or if your focus needs to be realigned. Example: your goal is to win a championship, but you don’t even make the playoffs. Perseverance says let’s shift our goal, shift our priority, shift our energy and move on to the next goal and the next battle.

 At the risk of going too long, I’ll share this story:

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A man watched a delicate butterfly struggling to escape from its tiny chrysalis. He so wanted to watch it stretch its wings and take flight for the first time. The butterfly seemed to be really struggling to free itself, so he used a sharp blade to carefully cut the chrysalis open and help it emerge with much less effort. Over the next couple of hours, he noticed the crumpled wings never expanded, never filled out, and soon the butterfly was still and lifeless.

What happened? He helped the butterfly, did he not? Why watch the butterfly struggle when it is within his power to take that burden away?

The butterfly, in its struggle to free itself from the tiny and rigid chrysalis, benefits from the monumental effort. Without straining, wiggling and twisting, fluid isn’t pumped to the outer edges of the wings and they never fill out, never dry, and never grow beyond their crumpled shape. The butterfly never flies. No struggle, no flight, no life.

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In much the same way, Perseverance is the shifting and adapting to the follies of life: from breaking your pencil lead to receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis. The struggle is often a gateway to the appreciation of the life you have and the strength to weather the storms along the way. With experience, you can even encourage and help others through their tough times.

 Is there such a thing as a group epiphany? Maybe. Because everyone in that room that night seemed to have looked back to where they’ve been and discovered that they are where they are because they Persevered. They pushed through those chrysalis-type moments and seasons of life. They shifted their mindset, grew, and now they are stronger and more beautiful because of it.

So, what do you do when [insert your own personal struggle]? I invite you to consider what is holding you back from overcoming the barriers in your life. Persevere. Shift. Learn. Grow. Dare I say...spread your wings and fly!

Matt Draudt

Photos by mDraudt Photography

Kick-Off & Orientation Columbus: 2019.02.12

The beginning is the most important part of the work.”
— Plato

The Kick-off and Orientation at Wendy’s International HQ in Dublin last week marked the beginning of another Handshake America Columbus season sizzling with potential! The student-athletes were introduced to the reality of what it means to be a part of Handshake: community, involvement, high expectations, and a vast and growing network of coaches and alumni prepared and willing to come alongside and walk through the ups and downs of life with them. As for the new recruits, they met, they engaged each other, and whether they realized it or not, they formed a bond with each other through each and every handshake they exchanged.

The handshake is more important than we might imagine. It signifies the beginning of a mutual exchange between two or more people. Since the students and coaches in this Program are also athletes, sports is a prime example to see the significance. Every football game begins with handshakes between the team captains at the 50 yard line, then they proceed to beat each other to a pulp. The same goes for boxing and MMA - a touch of the gloves before they try to knock each other out. And after all the drama and struggle between the opposing sides, most matches and games of any sport even end with handshakes (‘GG’).

The handshake is a sign of respect and acknowledgment. Most of the student-athletes were meeting each other or their coaches for the first time. That handshake they exchanged was the acknowledgement that they understood why they are here as a part of this program - that they will be in this learning and growing journey together.

This Program is about coaching, introspection, practice, and action. It’s about being aware of yourself and the people around you. It’s about defining success as doing your best and being willing to do your better when you have the opportunity. It’s about being self-satisfied with the effort you give in all that you do and being willing to own the outcome gracefully and humbly, no matter the result. It’s about squeezing the most out of the gifts you’ve been given, just like any coach and player of any sport is always doing. The only difference is this applies to all of life - on and off the field.

We are off to a great start! For the year to come and on into the future, we wish the greatest measure of success to the Class of 2019!

See and download your pictures here!

Matt Draudt - Handshake America Photographer & Blogger

mDraudt Photography

Annual Assembly Columbus: 2019.01.23

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
— Winston Churchill
Coach of the Year, Jennie Wilson

Coach of the Year, Jennie Wilson

If you have ever seen the animated movie Home, with the lovable purple squid-type aliens, you might be familiar with the poor and broken, yet comical English spoken by the main character, Oh (Jim Parsons). In one scene he is locked in a freezer by a fugitive “humans girl” named Tip (Rihanna) after they surprise each other in a vacant convenience store. The priceless (and pertinent) line that comes from Oh is, “Can I come into the out, now?”

Although exits get you out of buildings and off of freeways, when it comes to the rest of your life you can look at exits from a slightly different perspective. When I graduated high school we didn’t hold a graduation ceremony; it was called Commencement. It may have been the end of one thing, but it was certainly the beginning of another. We were indeed exiting one phase of life while simultaneously entering another.

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As I listened to the students talk about their experiences, it hit me that everything they mentioned was something they would take with them into the future: a new outlook; a new perspective; a new found confidence; a new network of peers and colleagues; the resolve to influence others for good. They weren’t talking about leaving the Program, they were talking about a new phase of it.

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The people who experience the Handshake Program become keenly aware of the gifts with which they have been entrusted. The focus on PERSEVERANCE, PASSION, POSITIVITY, PEOPLE, and PRESENCE isn’t just an exercise in conceptual thinking. These are real traits and virtues already built into each and every one of our students, alumni, and coaches that ultimately have a real impact on the people, groups, and communities around them. The Program doesn’t build these traits into the students, it only works to reveal them and develop them so that after their time at Handshake they become a passionate force for good.

An excerpt from Doug Probst, Co-Founder, at this year’s Annual Assembly is well worth revisiting:

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"YOU will reveal your grit with your perseverance to get through the tough times while you’re figuring out what your passions are that are driving that determination. You will inspire people with your positive mental attitude; you will surround yourself and associate with good people and begin to identify and separate yourself from the bad ones. You will continue these practices, and because you are “coachable”, you will continue to benefit from being “coached”, learn from your experiences, and keep getting better, and better, and better. You will continue to develop and consequently have more poise and confidence every day because you know deep inside that you’re doing the right things. And with these virtues you’ll ultimately have a presence that will not just be noticed when you walk into a room but, more importantly, you’ll be more appreciated and respected by people when they get to know you, work with you, and live with you. For if you continue to practice the 5Ps we discussed over the last year you will experience success. And how you’ll know it? You’ll know it because the people who know you the best, love and respect you the most – and you will be living with no regrets because you’ve done your very best."

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Having the heart and mind to do the right thing and the drive to do your best leads to a life of no regrets - this is the picture of a successful life. The 36 students from this year’s Handshake Columbus class have begun to understand this and are charging into the future. Just keep in mind that every past was once a future, every exit doubles as an entrance, and every end is met with a beginning. The moment they passed through the exit doors of that building on the Abercrombie campus and into the rainy evening, they entered into a new chapter that is still being written. We can’t wait to discover how it unfolds!

Matt Draudt - Handshake America Photographer & Blogger

mDraudtPhotography

Visit our Facebook page to see and download your photos!




Students in the News: Anthony Sciarroni (St. Francis DeSales)

Handshake student-athletes push themselves on the field, in the classroom, and live life beyond themselves. We just finished our People sessions, which is an others-oriented focus within the 5P’s. To give a real-life example of how People is such an important facet of this program, current student-athlete, Anthony Sciarroni, was recently featured in an article in the local Catholic Times which highlighted a friendship he has with a fellow classmate that goes beyond athletics and the classroom.

Article: DeSales Students Form a Special Friendship

mDraudt

Session #6: People 2018.10.20

Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”
~ Helen Keller

Handshake America Columbus

Handmade blankets for the Ronald McDonald House from Teams 3&4

Handmade blankets for the Ronald McDonald House from Teams 3&4

We just finished up the third and final PEOPLE session at the OhioHealth Chiller Ice Rink, in Lewis Center. All three two-team sessions involved givebacks in one form or another. All three benefited people the coaches and students will likely never meet. In my humble opinion, I think that is worth mentioning because in the short amount of time it took for them to do what they did they are going to impact someone’s life in a positive way. So, what did they do and why was it significant?

Teams #1 and #2 spent a cool, overcast Saturday morning pulling weeds, tearing up tarps, and winding up and emptying a mile of irrigation hose for the UALC Community Garden, an event coordinated through the efforts of Handshake Coach Lori Fry of Navigator Mgmt Partners. The community garden uses the produce they grow to feed hungry families in the central Ohio area. The labor they provided helped the handful of people who maintain it prepare the garden for the winter months and clears the way for spring planting. It may not sound like much on paper, but this is no backyard garden! And if you’ve ever done any gardening you appreciate the help when it comes to the tough stuff.

Teams #3 and #4 spent part of their evening at the Victoria’s Secret offices in Reynoldsburg creating blankets for the Ronald McDonald House at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, an event coordinated and hosted by Handshake Coach Mike Van Straten of L Brands. These blankets are part of a package given to the families of children who need a place to stay while their child is being treated at the hospital. A rough time is made a little less rough with these soft, comforting handmade gifts.

Facilitated by Adam Weingartner of Bluestone Wealth, teams #5 and #6 met at the mezzanine of the Ohio Health Chiller Ice Rink where they heard from Dave Caruso (http://www.carusohockey.com/), former Ohio State and professional hockey goalie, and Victoria Alesi, from the Huckleberry House. We’ll come back to Dave in a moment so that we can address the giveback portion of the evening. Victoria opened our eyes to the reality of homelessness among teenagers in Columbus. Huckleberry House is a shelter for teens in need and who are willing to accept help. The program is comprehensive in that it gives them real hope and real help during this already difficult time of life. The coaches and students filled backpacks with necessities and snacks and then added a touch of Positivity by putting encouraging messages right on the bags.

As for Dave Caruso, he shared quite a story – one to which all the athletes in the room could relate. Although our session was on PEOPLE, his story personified all the 5P’s. The discussion following Dave’s address bore that out. Coaches and students alike pointed out examples of PERSEVERANCE, PASSION, POSITIVITY, PEOPLE, and PRESENCE in what he shared with us not just as an athlete, but as a coach, a talent evaluator, and an ambassador for his sport.

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File this story under PERSEVERANCE and POSITIVITY: Dave grew up in Atlanta, which is known to be hot, but not exactly a hotbed for the game of hockey. He loved it, though, and took every opportunity to play to get noticed…then, finally he was. One coach, who came to be his mentor, recognized and helped develop Dave’s talent despite a couple of tough games in net.

File this story under PASSION, PEOPLE, and PRESENCE: Feeling as if the well of opportunity in Atlanta had run dry, Dave left Atlanta to head north. That very coach, in whom he greatly trusted, called him and told him to turn around and head to the pro hockey arena where they were holding practices, stand by the doors with his equipment, and tell the first person he saw that if they needed a goalie, then he was the guy. The gentleman he met outside the doors said they didn’t need a goalie and went back into the arena…only to return to ask him how he knew they needed a goalie (one of their goalies had just been injured). In a few short minutes he was out on the ice taking pucks for a pro hockey team. Its right out of a movie script.

The discussion portions of the evening had a couple of notable points that are truly worth passing along. The first is a quote attributed earliest to Teddy Roosevelt: “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” People are wary of buying into a system until they have a sense that they are an important part of it. That’s a pretty important truth about people to internalize and practice when it comes to anyone in a leadership position; whether you are a coach, a team captain, a manager, a CEO, a teacher, or even a student council representative. You can know it all, but unless you can relate to your audience, your message may be lost.

The second takeaway was from Dave Caruso. It was a philosophy to remember: a coach’s influence is never neutral. It is either positive or negative. Chew on that for a little bit. A coach speaks no idle words.

The third centered around the assigned video that dealt with how to have a good conversation. The takeaways from the video? Be engaged in a conversation. Set aside the distractions. Listen to understand, not to respond. Don’t pontificate. Its worth the watch. Following the discussion of the video, all in the room were in agreement as to the number one distraction from good conversation. Cell phones. Coaches and students alike recognized it. It’s a matter of discipline because we need to accept that they are here to stay.

Each of the activities of each session demonstrated one thing: together we can do so much. On that note, I’ll end with an African proverb that puts much of life with people in perspective: To go fast, go alone. To go far, go together.

mDraudt

The Handshake America Tour Takes to the Links in NC

It’s great to get together with a group of people and shoot a round of golf every once in awhile. It’s even greater when there’s a little friendly competition involved. It’s greater still when you get to play golf, play with a little something on the line, and do it for a good cause.

Doug Probst, President and Co-Founder of Handshake America, held a North vs. South Ryder Cup-style golf competition at Lake Toxaway, NC on October 9, 2018. Six people who grew up in the north represented the Columbus chapter and six people with southern roots represented the Atlanta chapter to raise awareness of the Handshake Program and its dedication to coaching high school student-athletes for success in life.

The bragging rights for the inaugural North vs. South event went to Doug and his Northern teammates. The South will get a chance to even the score at next year’s event (details to come). Our goal, through events like this, is to bring to light how the Handshake America Program can create caring life coaching relationships with gritty high school students, to enable them to realize their potential for success and improve the spirit of our nation.

Our purpose and vision is to link a national community of 5P Leaders to influence the culture and unite the people around them (5P Leaders are those who regularly practice and represent the values of Perseverance, Passion, Positivity, People, and Presence). This is one way we are getting the word out and creating new relationships. Columbus was first. Atlanta was second. Western North Carolina is on the radar. Who’s next?

mDraudt


Session #5: Positivity 2018.08.01

Handshake America Columbus

Positivity is the state of being hopeful and optimistic.

This season's Positivity session was a tale of two faces. Why two? Well, for two reasons. First, there were two notable sets of faces: Handshake alums and current Handshake student-athletes. There have always been familiar faces at the corporate events, but this was different. There was an entire table of alumni student-athletes ranging from first year grads from the inception of the program to the most recent graduated class. Never has this richly mixed level of experience been reached in the history of the program. It was, to put it simply, exciting!

Second, there were two different faces that every person in the room was wearing: light and relieved faces when humor struck a chord, but also wide-eyed, heavy, thoughtful, and somber faces when the subject matter grew weighty. But, isn't being positive all about putting a smile on your face no matter the situation or circumstance? That's a great question. You see, the alumni were invited and assembled specifically to encourage the current class from the future. How? (You're full of great questions!) The alumni have now taken their Handshake experience and applied it to their life experience. Some of them are going into college, some have been there for a couple of years, and some are well into their professional careers at this point. This is the future into which the current class was getting a sneak peek.

If you’re still looking for that one person who will change your life...take a look in the mirror.
— Unknown

The idea that Positivity is all smiles all the time - to put it in negative terms - is false. Success 100% of the time would be fantastic, but real life comes with its unfair share of disappointment, tragedy, and failure. But Positivity is characterized by using the negatives as stepping stones. 

As the alumni assembled at the front table facing the coaches and students, they were given the opportunity to share from their body of experience. Here is where the tale of two faces became apparent. Their accounts ranged from knee and leg injuries that put their athletic pursuits on hold, to life altering injuries, to difficult personal happenstances, to transferring schools and changing majors. No ones' path progressed the way they pictured it. Most of what they shared were tough, negative, circumstances, but out of those accounts emerged the triumphs of toughness, renewed focus, renewed faith, and a fresh perspective.

BUT THAT'S NOT EVEN THE BEST PART! 

The best part was the openness from all sides. The alums opened up about their experiences, and in some cases bared their souls - nothing you would share with a stranger. The students opened up about things they are worried and unsure about. And the one question that struck me, and I felt expressed the tone of the evening, dealt with homesickness and how some alumni worked through it or how it changed their trajectory. Why is that noteworthy? (There you go again!) Who stands up in front of a room full of their peers and asks about being homesick? Who tells a room full of their peers that it was such a powerful force that they transferred schools? Aren't we just supposed to suck it up and get over it, and get bullied about it if anyone finds out? Not here. Not with these peers.

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The take-home, here, is that this is a very special kind of community the coaches and alumni of Handshake America have fostered and developed over the years. There is a level of trust in this growing group you rarely see in any arena of life, and from that trust grows a Positive and successful approach to all the negativity life has to offer. Positivity isn't all smiles all the time. Positivity is thoughtful, reflective, and sometimes gritty. Positivity is not easy but as we heard tonight, it's worth the effort.

mDraudt

Failure is not falling down, it is not getting up again.”
— Anonymous

Session #5: Positivity 2018.08.01

Handshake America Columbus

Positivity is the state of being hopeful and optimistic.

This season's Positivity session was a tale of two faces. Why two? Well, for two reasons. First, there were two notable sets of faces: Handshake alums and current Handshake student-athletes. There have always been familiar faces at the corporate events, but this was different. There was an entire table of alumni student-athletes ranging from first year grads from the inception of the program to the most recent graduated class. Never has this richly mixed level of experience been reached in the history of the program. It was, to put it simply, exciting!

Second, there were two different faces that every person in the room was wearing: light and relieved faces when humor struck a chord, but also wide-eyed, heavy, thoughtful, and somber faces when the subject matter grew weighty. But, isn't being positive all about putting a smile on your face no matter the situation or circumstance? That's a great question. You see, the alumni were invited and assembled specifically to encourage the current class from the future. How? (You're full of great questions!) The alumni have now taken their Handshake experience and applied it to their life experience. Some of them are going into college, some have been there for a couple of years, and some are well into their professional careers at this point. This is the future into which the current class was getting a sneak peek.

If you’re still looking for that one person who will change your life...take a look in the mirror.
— Unknown

The idea that Positivity is all smiles all the time - to put it in negative terms - is false. Success 100% of the time would be fantastic, but real life comes with its unfair share of disappointment, tragedy, and failure. But Positivity is characterized by using the negatives as stepping stones. 

As the alumni assembled at the front table facing the coaches and students, they were given the opportunity to share from their body of experience. Here is where the tale of two faces became apparent. Their accounts ranged from knee and leg injuries that put their athletic pursuits on hold, to life altering injuries, to difficult personal happenstances, to transferring schools and changing majors. No ones' path progressed the way they pictured it. Most of what they shared were tough, negative, circumstances, but out of those accounts emerged the triumphs of toughness, renewed focus, renewed faith, and a fresh perspective.

BUT THAT'S NOT EVEN THE BEST PART! 

The best part was the openness from all sides. The alums opened up about their experiences, and in some cases bared their souls - nothing you would share with a stranger. The students opened up about things they are worried and unsure about. And the one question that struck me, and I felt expressed the tone of the evening, dealt with homesickness and how some alumni worked through it or how it changed their trajectory. Why is that noteworthy? (There you go again!) Who stands up in front of a room full of their peers and asks about being homesick? Who tells a room full of their peers that it was such a powerful force that they transferred schools? Aren't we just supposed to suck it up and get over it, and get bullied about it if anyone finds out? Not here. Not with these peers.

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The take-home, here, is that this is a very special kind of community the coaches and alumni of Handshake America have fostered and developed over the years. There is a level of trust in this growing group you rarely see in any arena of life, and from that trust grows a Positive and successful approach to all the negativity life has to offer. Positivity isn't all smiles all the time. Positivity is thoughtful, reflective, and sometimes gritty. Positivity is not easy but as we heard tonight, it's worth the effort.

mDraudt

Failure is not falling down, it is not getting up again.”
— Anonymous

Session #5: Positivity 2018.08.01

Handshake America Columbus

Positivity is the state of being hopeful and optimistic.

This season's Positivity session was a tale of two faces. Why two? Well, for two reasons. First, there were two notable sets of faces: Handshake alums and current Handshake student-athletes. There have always been familiar faces at the corporate events, but this was different. There was an entire table of alumni student-athletes ranging from first year grads from the inception of the program to the most recent graduated class. Never has this richly mixed level of experience been reached in the history of the program. It was, to put it simply, exciting!

Second, there were two different faces that every person in the room was wearing: light and relieved faces when humor struck a chord, but also wide-eyed, heavy, thoughtful, and somber faces when the subject matter grew weighty. But, isn't being positive all about putting a smile on your face no matter the situation or circumstance? That's a great question. You see, the alumni were invited and assembled specifically to encourage the current class from the future. How? (You're full of great questions!) The alumni have now taken their Handshake experience and applied it to their life experience. Some of them are going into college, some have been there for a couple of years, and some are well into their professional careers at this point. This is the future into which the current class was getting a sneak peek.

If you’re still looking for that one person who will change your life...take a look in the mirror.
— Unknown

The idea that Positivity is all smiles all the time - to put it in negative terms - is false. Success 100% of the time would be fantastic, but real life comes with its unfair share of disappointment, tragedy, and failure. But Positivity is characterized by using the negatives as stepping stones. 

As the alumni assembled at the front table facing the coaches and students, they were given the opportunity to share from their body of experience. Here is where the tale of two faces became apparent. Their accounts ranged from knee and leg injuries that put their athletic pursuits on hold, to life altering injuries, to difficult personal happenstances, to transferring schools and changing majors. No ones' path progressed the way they pictured it. Most of what they shared were tough, negative, circumstances, but out of those accounts emerged the triumphs of toughness, renewed focus, renewed faith, and a fresh perspective.

BUT THAT'S NOT EVEN THE BEST PART! 

The best part was the openness from all sides. The alums opened up about their experiences, and in some cases bared their souls - nothing you would share with a stranger. The students opened up about things they are worried and unsure about. And the one question that struck me, and I felt expressed the tone of the evening, dealt with homesickness and how some alumni worked through it or how it changed their trajectory. Why is that noteworthy? (There you go again!) Who stands up in front of a room full of their peers and asks about being homesick? Who tells a room full of their peers that it was such a powerful force that they transferred schools? Aren't we just supposed to suck it up and get over it, and get bullied about it if anyone finds out? Not here. Not with these peers.

IMG_3724 R.jpg

The take-home, here, is that this is a very special kind of community the coaches and alumni of Handshake America have fostered and developed over the years. There is a level of trust in this growing group you rarely see in any arena of life, and from that trust grows a Positive and successful approach to all the negativity life has to offer. Positivity isn't all smiles all the time. Positivity is thoughtful, reflective, and sometimes gritty. Positivity is not easy but as we heard tonight, it's worth the effort.

mDraudt

Failure is not falling down, it is not getting up again.”
— Anonymous

Session #2: One-on-One 2018.03.10

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
— Neale Donald Walsch

If you are an athlete or have ever been a part of a team you know that the home field advantage is not just a saying, it’s a reality. There is a reason players and teams tend to perform better on a playing field with which they are familiar. Sometimes the advantage is psychological and visceral because the crowd comes alive when their team does something well, triggering a strength-in-numbers mentality that produces a deep sense of confidence. Sometimes it’s a physical advantage. Through all the practices, the wind sprints, gassers, drills, and sets, the players know every floorboard and blade of grass because they have covered it not just with their feet, but with their sweat, blood and, sometimes, tears.

For Session #2 in the Handshake America line-up of events the student-athletes get the home field advantage. To the students, the Orientation Session at Wendy's Headquarters probably felt a little like an away game. This time the coaches get to don the visitor’s jerseys and re-enter the world of high school.  These one-on-one sessions at the students' schools allow the coaches to experience, or at least get a taste of, the daily lives of their students. They get to meet their friends, their teachers and administrators, and get a real sense of who they are in their environment and attempt to understand who and what influences them every day. Many of the two-person teams have already met and the feedback is fantastic!

During this second session the coaches are encouraged to have meaningful and informative conversations that flow both ways. The goal is to get to know their student as a person, get a feel for where they are, what their passions are, and where they want to go into the next year and beyond. Ideally, a coach can relate to their younger counterpart by sharing insight from the paths they have traveled so that the student can get a glimpse into their future – to really get them to think about where, and specifically who they want to be.

That last bit is the core of this entire experience that is unfolding. It doesn’t matter whether you end up signing a multi-million dollar contract in your sport or work a desk job shuffling papers for a living. What matters is who you are. This is the one thing in life in which you have a choice. You can’t control much of anything else, but you can control how you are going to be you.

Perseverance, Passion, Positivity? Those are up to you. The value you put on People? Up to you. Developing all those traits? You are not alone in this one, but it is up to you to heed the experience of others and turn the stuff you learn and know into wisdom you can use. Your Presence, then, is how you apply that wisdom in real life situations.

How many times have you heard the phrase “trust the process”? Go ahead and add one to that number. Trust the process. These One-on-Ones are the first big step. Take these opportunities to open up to your coaches, and coaches to your students. Challenge each other and your teammates. Listen to each other. You will all be better for it!

Good luck, Coaches! High school can be a tough place for anybody. Good luck, Students! This is a great opportunity to perform on your home court.

mDraudt

Columbus Kick-Off & Orientation 2018.02.26

You always get a special kick on opening day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you’re a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.
— Joe DiMaggio

Have you ever wondered why almost any weekend you can turn on the big screen and see men or women knocking around that little white ball? The golf season seems to have no beginning and no end with no discernible off-season. (Stay with me, I know golf can be more boring to talk about than to watch for some folks!) If you are a PGA tour player, golf is a winter, spring, summer, and fall sport. According to the PGA’s schedule, the 2017-2018 season is literally 364 days long – beginning October 2 last year and ending with the Ryder Cup on September 30, 2018. They do have a winter break from Thanksgiving until January 1, much like basketball, baseball, and hockey have their mid-season All-Star breaks.

"Three legs of the stool" - Speaker David Probst emphasizes the significance of each: the parents (standing), the coaches, and the students.

"Three legs of the stool" - Speaker David Probst emphasizes the significance of each: the parents (standing), the coaches, and the students.

Why do they do it this way? The Tour is geared more towards the players than to the fans in that it gives them more opportunities for improvement, recognition, and financial gain. And, why do I bring it up? Because Handshake America pretty much has a year-round season - February through January - which is geared towards the benefit of the student-athletes, with all kinds of opportunities for improvement, growth and personal gain! See the analogy?

As I walked around the room during Orientation I noticed a couple of things. First, as it happens every year, most of the student-athletes had the first game jitters. That is not a knock on anyone. They know few of their peers, even fewer of the coaches, they are signing papers, and listening to speakers telling them of the amazing opportunities laid out before them at the cost of a higher level of social expectation to which they may be unaccustomed. Not to mention, there is someone pointing a camera in their faces and constantly snapping pictures of them. It’s a lot to take in!

Students met their coaches and teammates, filled out paperwork, game-planned contact methods, and (most importantly) chose their team names. 

Students met their coaches and teammates, filled out paperwork, game-planned contact methods, and (most importantly) chose their team names. 

The second thing I noticed took place as the evening progressed. The coaches took the reins, broke the ice, and engaged the seniors-to-be in a very special way. They are coaches with Handshake because they are a special group of people chosen to lead another special group - of young people. These coaches are people who have “been there”. They played sports, they went to college, they received their degrees, they became successful in living life and managing what life throws at them. They value the relationships they form and the people with whom they form them. They are passionate about what they are doing. Their presence is invaluable. They exemplify the 5 Practices (known succinctly as the "5Ps") this program is based upon.

Ron Ransom and student, Miicah Coleman, demonstrate the perilous and confusing world of the handshake before finally getting it right.

Ron Ransom and student, Miicah Coleman, demonstrate the perilous and confusing world of the handshake before finally getting it right.

OK, I’ll throw in a bonus - a third thing I noticed. This is a group of student-athletes who has the raw talent for the 5Ps, as well. The coaches are here to hone those skills – as with any coach in any sport. You could tell they know how to lace up the cleats, put on the chin strap, tuck in their jerseys and get down to business. There was confidence, leadership, and humility on their faces. This evening was the warm-up, handshake, coin flip, and pre-game pleasantries all rolled into one. The new season is underway and, just as they say on TV, stay tuned for updates and highlights on the upcoming events right here, at What's Happening. Have a great year!

 mDraudt

Session #6 Positivity: 2017.9.21

Most people are about as happy as they make their minds to be.”
— Abraham Lincoln

     Handshake America went public - Worthington Public, that is - as we descended upon the already bustling Northwest Library branch. If we put a positive spin on the scene we could all agree the meeting was cozy and personal in that quaint little community room. It was actually quite the perfect room to hold the Positivity Session!

     Doug Smith, author of Happiness: The Art of Living With Peace, Confidence, and Joy, led us in truly taking inventory of the attitudes and actions in which we choose to frame our lives. It meshed perfectly with the Wooden Pyramid Blocks of Faith, Patience, and Enthusiasm that the Handshake ideal of Positivity encompasses.

Doug Smith is holding a picture of Joseph Merrick - the person we knew as "The Elephant Man". Despite the circumstances he was handed, Merrick arguably made the best of a bad situation.

Doug Smith is holding a picture of Joseph Merrick - the person we knew as "The Elephant Man". Despite the circumstances he was handed, Merrick arguably made the best of a bad situation.

     I think there is one word in his book title that we cannot miss: Art. The fundamentals of art are skill and creativity. In terms of positivity, it is the skill to recognize when negative and accusing thoughts of the past seep into the present to drag down our confidence in what we are doing which then translates to worry and anxiety about the future. That negativity can be a weighty millstone around our necks. Creativity comes in when the recognition of negativity puts a stop to the cycle and you allow your mind to look at things from a positive perspective.

Special guest and purveyor of positivity, Jimmie Bell, infects everyone around him with his upward attitude.

Special guest and purveyor of positivity, Jimmie Bell, infects everyone around him with his upward attitude.

     The best example I can give you is halftime of a basketball game. Built into the game is the opportunity to take whatever happens in the first half - let's say your team is down by twenty and played terribly - evaluate what you did and take a breath, and make a plan for what you will do in the next twenty minutes. If you think it's hopeless, you have already lost. If you look at the second half as an opportunity to make adjustments, play better, and overcome the deficit then you have a shot. 

     According to Doug's book description on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Happiness-Art-Living-Peace-Confidence/dp/0986070807), "Through research and study, he began to understand that what the most joyful among us have in common is that they remember the past with peace, anticipate the future with confidence, and live in the present with joy and exuberance." Do we do that? Can we do that? Take a time out and honestly give some thought to what those three ideas mean to us. Go ahead. It might look daunting, but let us not make mountains out of mole hills. You've got this, I'm positive of it. :)

mDraudt