Industry News, Philanthropy, Professional Athletes, Sports Leagues

RECAP: President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition

We had the opportunity to attend the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition this week and learn more about the new National Youth Sports Strategy. 

Speakers from different health agencies across the national government spoke about the collaborations and data studies they put together. Anovia Craven, Special Olympics Ambassador, spoke about the impact sport has made in her life and why sport is so important. 

The President’s Council is made up of the following executives:
(more background on each member can be found here)

  • Misty May-Treanor, Council Co-Chair, Three-Time Beach Volleyball Olympic Gold Medalist
  • Mariano Rivera, Council Co-Chair, MLB World Series Champion
  • Herschel Walker, Council Co-Chair, NFL Player and Entrepreneur
  • Brenda Becker, Business Executive and Former Political Strategist
  • Bill Belichick, Five-Time Super Bowl Winning NFL Head Coach
  • Johnny Damon, MLB World Series Champion
  • Trevor Drinkwater, Corporate CEO and Film Producer
  • Dr. Robert Goldman, Physician and Martial Arts Expert
  • Natalie Gulbis, LPGA Player
  • Dr. Nan Hayworth, Physician and Former U.S. Congresswoman
  • Matthew Hesse, Corporate CEO and U.S. Army Veteran
  • Ashlee Lundvall, Former Ms. Wheelchair USA and Outdoor Recreation Enthusiast
  • Jake Olson, University of Southern California Football Player
  • Dr. Mehmet Oz, Television Personality and Cardiac Surgeon
  • Shauna Rohbock, Olympic Silver Medalist in Bobsled and U.S. Army National Guard Soldier
  • Kyle Snyder, Olympic Gold Medalist and Two-Time World Champion in Wrestling
  • Julie Teer, Non-Profit Executive and Former Political Strategist
  • Christopher Tisi, Corporate CEO and Entrepreneur
  • Master Sgt. Robert Wilkins, Retired U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant
  • Jim Worthington, Corporate Executive and Athletic Club Owner
  • Linda Yaccarino, Corporate Media Executive
  • Kristina Harder, PCSFN Acting Executive Director

During the council’s deliberation several important points were brought up about implementing the National Youth Sports Strategy. Here is a summary of the topics discussed.

Increasing Awareness

Johnny Damon: We really need to promote kids getting active and get outside! I have 8 kids and I can see the difference between the 20 year old and the 3 year old. We need to get our kids off the iPads and tech and outside playing.

Julie Teer: It’s really important to simplify and get the right data points out there to mobilize people.

Trevor Drinkwater: It’s important to utilize media promotion- kids are bombarded with media throughout the day. Let’s get athletes, celebrities and social media in general to share more stories about getting active and getting fit. 

Ashlee Lundvall: Kids are on social media and using technology. There’s no way to get around it and technology is not going anywhere. We need to use it as a positive tool to educate and spread the message. 

Master Sgt. Robert Wilkins: We need to also the parents and encourage them to be the example for their children, and hopefully children will take notice and do what their parents are doing.

Master Sgt. Robert Wilkins: 94% of women CEOs have a sport background and 75% of all CEOs have a sport background. Corporate America is very familiar with sports and the importance sport plays in their lives. We need to engage corporations to join us in the mission.

Johnny Damon: The Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy is incredible. It’s crazy that nobody else is doing that not only across baseball but across pro and college sports. You have to find your love, and a lot of kids just don’t have access to sport and safe places to play. There are a lot of opportunities in sport- not everyone is going to be a pro player but they could work in the industry. These kids will never know if they love sports if they don’t get access to try. 

Public Private Partnerships

Ashlee Lundvall: It would be great to engage insurance companies to ensure they cover access to adaptive equipment for athletes with disabilities. It’s not covered right now and it can be really expensive for fitness centers and schools to purchase those, so a lot of times there isn’t a way for adaptive athletes to access the equipment they need. 

Trevor Drinkwater: There needs to be a way to incentivize public private partnerships and these companies to work together. There is a lot of power to partner with organizations who want to have a healthier and happier workforce and save money on healthcare costs.

Increased Volunteerism

Kristina Harder: It’s important to evaluate how are we finding volunteers, how we are incentivizing them to work with kids and getting them involved in mentorship. We need to keep volunteers in mind as we talk about implementing this youth sports strategy.

Brenda Becker: Coaching can be tough for people as a lot of parents and community members feel ill prepared or lack confidence to step into that role. But if you can teach and train them to help, it makes it a lot more digestible. We need to show people how to do things like coaching and where to go to access the education they need. Especially for the aging population who is getting more time in their days- teach them how they can get involved.

Master Sgt. Robert Wilkins: Coaching can make an impact, good or bad. It’s important to adequately train coaches so that they can better prepare and support the young people they coach and mentor.  

Johnny Damon: Parents need to calm down a bit when it comes to coaches and pushing their child to be the #1 on the team. Let the coach do their job. 

Jim Worthington: Don’t let coaches coach their own kids. Parents who are involved in sports just to promote their kids- those are the parents who shouldn’t coach. 

Brenda Becker: Many organizations have code of conducts because parents have been so unbearable. It could be interesting for the council to put together a code of conduct nationally for parents to follow and coaches/schools to implement. 

Johnny Damon: Let’s get the parents involved. If you are a coach, have them come out to coach with you. Engage the parents in the process and most importantly, let the kids play and have fun.

Jim Worthington: After 13 tons of kids drop out of sport and that’s the same time sports start to get seriously competitive. Some schools make kids pay to play. How can we engage those kids who drop out and keep them active?

Ashlee Lundvall: We should consider some active alternatives if kids don’t want to play sports. It shouldn’t be all or nothing. 

Thank you to the GW Sports Philanthropy Program for the opportunity to attend this important event. To learn more about the President’s Council on Sport, Fitness & Nutrition, visit

Sports play an important role in society from young people to aging populations. Learn more about how athletes can get involved and how the power of sport can benefit their second careers. Register for the Tackle What’s Next Summit today!

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