Update on the Pure Performance program at NHS by Curt Benson

[show_avatar email=cbenson@fablab.net]I’m a member of the Mayor’s Task Force on Youth Alchohol and Drug Use (MTFYADU). I attended the monthly meeting last Tuesday and heard Tom Graupmann, Northfield High School’s athletic director,  give an update on the implementation of the Pure Performance program–a program aimed a decreasing alcohol/chemical use in students participating in athletic and other activities at NHS.   Please note that this report is my opinion only, and not meant to be any kind of official statement from the MTFYADU.

hs-bannerThe Pure Performance program was introduced to NHS by task force member Kathy Cooper.    Cooper had heard from Lakeville parent/volunteer Patti McDonald that this program had achieved some success in the Lakeville school district.  She arranged to have McDonald present an overview to a group of NHS administrators and coaches.  They choose to implement the program starting with the 2009 fall sports season.

Pure Performance was developed by John Underwood of the American Athletic Institute.    This program differs from other programs aimed at discouraging youth alcohol and drug use by not focusing so much on scare tactics and legalities.   Instead, Underwood focuses on the detrimental effects of alcohol and drug use on athletic performance.  He backs up his concepts with solid scientific research.  For example, he shows slides that clearly show differences in the brain scans of alcohol users as compared to non users.    His background as an NCAA All American and coach of Olympians gives him real credibility.

Underwood did three presentations at NHS on September 1st (that links to my blog post back in Aug.)  The sessions were aimed at the athletes; teachers and coaches; and parents and members of the public.

In previous years, prior to participating in activities, athletes and parents signed a permission slip which included a thick packet of the Minnesota State High School League‘s eligibility rules–including the rules regarding alcohol/chemical use.  This year, in addition to the MSHL rules, the “Pure Performance Pledge” was added.  It says:

To demonstrate my support, I pledge to:

  1. Support my fellow teammates by setting an example and abstaining from the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
  2. Never enable or lie for my teammates, if any rules are broken.  I will hold my teammates responsible and accountable for their actions.
  3. Seek information and assistance in dealing with my own or my teammates problems.
  4. Be honest and open with my parents about my feelings, needs, and problems.
  5. Be honest and open with my coach and other school personnel when the interests of my teammates are being jeopardized.

This pledge was signed by the athletes, their parent(s), team captains and coaches.  The pledge is intended to create opportunities for conversations about alcohol and drug use.

In his presentation to the MTFYADU, Graupmann said he has increased the amount of training given to team captains this year.  The captains are now receiving a three hour block of leadership training, which includes content about alcohol and drug use.  Additional training for the coaches is being contemplated.

Graupmann said that alcohol and chemical related eligibility incidents are down from previous years, but he was clear to explain that the numbers may not be significant or attributable to the Pure Performance program.

I think implementation of the Pure Performance program is a positive development.  The high school administrators and coaches have been totally supportive, and Graupmann especially should be commended for his energetic leadership.

Few are naive enough to believe that a program or two can change long standing problems overnight.  But I believe the implementation of the Pure Performance program is a step in the right direction.

See the Pure Performance videos on YouTube, for example:

2 thoughts on “Update on the Pure Performance program at NHS by Curt Benson”

  1. Curt, has the Pure Performance program been tried at the middle school level? Competitive athletics have crept down to that level in recent years, and the problem of chemical abuse by students that age is well-documented.

  2. Obama drug czar: Pot-smoking keeps increasing among US teens; cigarettes, binge drinking drops.

    President Barack Obama’s chief anti-drug official says marijuana is becoming more popular among U.S. teens and they have cut down on smoking cigarettes, binge drinking and meth use… Lloyd Johnston directed the study and says more teens are getting high on prescription drugs, and fewer of them see Ecstasy and pot as harmful.

    Anyone know if this is true for Northfield students, too?

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