Some of the most rewarding achievements of Gibbons Athletics are not just taking place on the field, court or in the gym. They also are happening in the classroom or in the community when teams are involved in such activities as spending a Saturday morning at Habitat for Humanity, delivering supplies to recent Hurricane survivors, hosting a fellowship dinner with opposing teams, or mentoring younger athletes. They are happening because of the program’s culture.
To be sure, culture is a buzz word in sports today. At Gibbons, however, it is part of the mission of both the athletics program and the school. To that end, Director of Athletics Todd Schuler and Director of Athletic Leadership/Legacy Dean Monroe worked with coaches and student team leaders over this past summer to develop the Crusaders Culture Code.
The code reflects a set of core values all teams and coaches believe are important and provides the foundation for individual teams to make it their own. It also identifies the atmosphere they want to create and the expectations they not only have about what they do, but also how they do it. Schuler and Monroe said Gibbons’ code is one of the few of its kind in the nation because it continuously is evolving, encompasses an entire program, not just one team, and involves various school departments, from Outreach and Retreats to Leadership.
This collaborative approach to the program’s culture ensures that members feel a sense of ownership and, as a result, are more likely to live out its tenets. “We have been working the last couple of years on being very intentional on what we want out of athletics in a Catholice educational environment,” Schuler said, pointing as an example to expanded service opportunities for teams. “We feel now is the time to explain why we are doing this and how it fits into the overall school culture and mission.”
This next step in the program’s evolution also aligns athletics with the leadership model Gibbons champions in other initiatives, including the Gibbons Leadership Conference. “Ultimately,” noted Schuler, “we want Gibbons to be a place where coaches want to coach, andstudent-athletess want to be part of… and look forward to the day they wear a Gibbons jersey.” Monroe added: “Having a culture code also supports and enhances our success on and off the field of competition.”
Indeed, the code encourages personal as well as team growth and service, which is a vital part of the athletic experience. Schuler and Monroe are bringing together coaches and student-athletes to refine the code and fit it to their needs. The fall and winter sports teams have had the opportunity to make changes to the code, and in January the spring sports teams will do the same. After the code’s core values are set, the next step is ensuring the code works for all teams.
What that involves, said Monroe, is continuing to meet with the teams individually and pairing teams based on areas they excel in and areas they would like to improve. “Not all teams are in the same place,” Monroe explained. “By bringing teams together that do not usually work with each other, they build relationships and support one another.” The goal is that over time all teams will grow in all areas of the code.
Work on the culture code along with Gibbons Athletics’ long history of success, in terms of wins and losses, has made it a program other teams across the country want to model, said Schuler.