The Best Thing I've Done in Provo: Sports Hero Day

In my three short years in Happy Valley I've been blessed to experience some really great things.  I've worked as a youth counselor and played my fair share of missionary tag.  I've taken cool classes.  I've worked on video/photo shoots for athletic teams.  I've road tripped with friends more times than I can count.  I've been a reporter.  I've watched touchdown drives play out from literally two feet away.  I've killed a spider by myself.  I played on BYU's racquetball team for a month.  And...I've embarrassed myself an infinite number of times trying new things.  

I don't say any of this to boast.  I say it to emphasize a point.  Out of everything that I have done since moving out, the thing that comes in at the top of my list is Sports Hero Day.  

Sports Hero Day happens once each year.  It's a day that 1000+ 6th graders from Utah County come to BYU's campus to meet BYU athletes.  The kids are led by volunteers from station to station to meet teams like gymnastics, volleyball, football, baseball, soccer, softball, swim/dive, golf, etc.  At each station athletes talk to the kids about topics that relate to them and where they're currently at in life.  From there they play their sport with the kids.  Upon finishing their rotations the kids migrate back to the main gym for a Power Rally where they are spoken to by 3-4 of BYU's most elite and decorated athletes.  

^^^^Everything I just said?  That's the non-emotional description of what Sports Hero Day is.  Here's how it really goes. 

The sixth graders that I work with are at a stage in life called the "hero phase."  Kids at age 12 have the tendency to idolize their heroes.  In this case, a lot of the kids love BYU and they love sports.  The theory behind SHD is simple then.  If the kids are at a stage in life where they look up to their role models....then lets give them positive role models to look up to.  

In my own experience I've seen lives change through this program.  I'm sure that sounds extreme, but it's true.  Attitudes and outlooks have been altered.  Goals have been set.  Friends have been made.  

Each year before Sports Hero Day I put on a few assemblies for the schools that will be attending.  Every single time I go to a school, the kids can't contain their excitement.  They bounce in their seats, they rattle off stats like a commentator, they can proudly recite the last tweet that their favorite athlete posted.  These kids look up to the athletes because they recognize their success and they want to experience the same thing.  

You're probably thinking at this point..."why is Chelsea rambling about this?  She's not even an athlete cause racquetball doesn't count."  You're right.  I'm not an athlete.  I'm a student volunteer turned Sports Hero Day Program Director.  I see it from the other side.  

The athletes are great and the day really is about them.  But...the thing that makes it all come together?  The group leaders.  For obvious reasons the kids look up to the athletes, but they also look up to their group leaders.  Out of everyone they meet on campus their group leader is the person they spend the most time with.  The person they get to know the best.  The kids LOVE connecting with someone that, again, has experienced success.  Getting into college and working hard is success!  For that reason, the kids end up walking away from SHD with a sports idol and a life idol.  

I could go on and on and on and on and on about why I think SHD is far greater than sliced bread, but I won't because I'd love for you to experience it for yourself.  The event is this Thursday, January 16th from 9am-1pm in the Smith Fieldhouse @ BYU.  If you're interested at all, please please please talk to me.  I want these kids to have the best experience possible and I want you to experience raw, fun service.  I'm specifically looking for anyone college age to help.

Here's an adorable video...

And here's the link to my personal experience with the program: