Lemon Bay High School has implemented a bold new program which takes young athletes and instills leadership skills so that they will grow into not just talented athletes, but ones with a strong leadership ethic. The program is called M.A.L.A. which stands for “Manta Athletic Leadership Academy”.
Lemon Bay High School Cross Country Coach, Social Studies teacher and Manta Athletic Leadership Academy (M.A.L.A.) founder Sharon Ness, created the program to develop a foundation for her students. Soon after the program’s inception, LBHS Swim Coach and duel credit American History teacher Coach Dawn Hall, along with ninth grade English teacher and Swim Coach Kelly Duncan, joined the program as athletic program directors. Combined, the trio has plenty to offer their young emerging leaders. The program begins with “Confidence-Opportunity-Role-and Elevate” concepts (C.O.R.E.) for incoming 9th grade students. The coaches believe “the first year is crucial in developing a solid foundation focusing on personal leadership and leadership by example.” That is where the C.O.R.E. concept begins.
The second phase of the M.A.L.A. program is the ‘Rising Leader’ which is part of the C.O.R.E. plan for 10th grade students. As the athletic students begin their journey, they are taught the balance of commitment, confidence, composure and character. “This program centers on preparing sophomores to take on future leadership roles within their teams. The goal is to: identify and develop high potential leaders; create solid leaders by example and set the stage for developing vocal leaders; build a strong peer support network for aspiring leaders and develop supportive leaders; and learn from current team captains/leaders. According to the three coaches, the goal is for students to learn by example, create leadership roles through respect toward parents, coaches, teammates and opponents; to have composure while under pressure; and to bounce back quickly after mistakes or errors. They also emphasize building strong peer support for younger athletes. Instead of creating any type of animosity between players or fellow LBHS athletes, they concentrate on teaching praise and support.
The Manta Athletic Leadership Academy (M.A.L.A.) goes into full gear when students reach their junior year. Ethics and Character Building are key in this year. A portion of the mission is to instill accountability into the students. They are taught that there is no excuse for their shortcomings and to have integrity on and off the field. They are to do the right thing, especially when no one is watching. How you carry yourself when you are not playing the sport is just as important as how you act when you are. Learn from and respect your Captains/Leaders. Learn from their actions both good and bad.
The final step in the program is the ‘Enlightened Manta’ program designed for 11th and 12th grade student-athletes. This plan is the final step in the C.O.R.E. Leadership Program and is for those who have successfully graduated from the Manta Athletic Leadership Academy. “This is when the athletes are provided advanced leadership training and support while teaching the critical skills and insights necessary to be effective vocal leaders,” according to the trio coaching staff. This is the time for the once mentored students to become the mentors to the younger athletes. They teach the underclassman the leadership skills that they have now gained. Coach Dawn Hall concludes “Helping to build school spirit and train future leaders for athletic programs and the campus at large is the program goal.” For further information regarding Lemon Bay’s C.O.R.E. and M.A.L.A. student-athletic programs, please contact LBHS Teacher/Coach: Sharon_Ness@ccps.k12.fl.us or LBHS Teacher/Coach: Dawn_Hall@ccps.k12.fl.us.