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Cherokee High athletes spend spring break at Costa Rica leadership academy

STAFF REPORT • Apr 29, 2019 at 1:03 PM

ROGERSVILLE — On March 16th, four Cherokee High School Lady Chief student-athletes departed the Tri-Cities to attend the Girls Leadership Academy for Service & Sport (GLASS) in Costa Rica.

The four students — LeeAnna Blackburn, Mallie Cole, Seira Light, and Teressa Addison — were nominated for the trip by their coach and health science instructor Tommie Loudy.

GLASS is a unique, international sports leadership program offered to high school female athletes by Beyond Sports. It balances a curriculum of sport-specific training, leadership development, service-learning, global engagement, and adventure.

The group was greeted at Liberia International Airport by Cherokee High School alumna and GLASS mentor Jennifer Davis.

Davis is currently completing a yearlong internship with by Beyond Sports. The program is led by a diverse group of eight former collegiate athletes from across the United States who serve as the students’ mentors throughout the trip.

“All of the GLASS mentors were so welcoming upon our arrival to Costa Rica,” said Blackburn, a senior tennis player. “Their outgoing and caring personalities made connecting with one another easy. Throughout the week, we observed the mentors’ natural leadership skills and love for serving through their community impact, athletic ability, and passion for teaching and empowering others. By constantly motivating our group during nightly leadership work sessions, we were all challenged to build up our own leadership, mission work, sports skills, and even a little Spanish. The sisterhood at Beyond Sports is strong, and together, they form a group of the most amazing, genuine people you could ever meet.”

Throughout the week, the Lady Chiefs organized a variety of sports activities involving two local towns and also led a youth sports clinic for girls in the Potrero area. They also served at a food bank in the Brasilito community.

“Working at the food bank in Brasilito was a life-changing experience,” said junior volleyball player Cole. “Our service consisted of breaking down cardboard boxes and preparing orders requested by local organizations. These organizations consisted of daycare facilities that provide care to children of Costa Rican working parents. Items distributed included canned food, rice, beans, water, baby food and diapers, and many other household items. While working, we engaged in conversation with another volunteer.”

Connecting the community through sports and service was only one aspect of the Lady Chiefs’ experience in Costa Rica. GLASS incorporates a leadership component into its curriculum which focuses on fostering each participant’s growth as a student, athlete, and citizen.

The itinerary for each day is built around a theme, which is then discussed in the evening leadership workshops.

For example, day one was centered around authenticity. The first step to becoming a leader is knowing your authentic self. This concept was built into the students’ sports training, service-learning, and excursions.

The subsequent themes were confidence, connection, positivity, adventure, and empowering others.

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