by Carmen Rios
I’m excited to announce today that SPARK is working with the National Federation of State High School Associations in an effort to provide resources about sexual violence prevention to high school athletic coaches.
Over 65,000 people signed SPARK’s petition, penned by Colby College football player Connor Clancy and me, asking the NFHS to offer sexual assault prevention resources for coaches as part of coaches’ annual accreditation requirements. In response, the organization–bringing with it massive numbers of human beings–is going to include links to resources for coaches to prevent another Steubenville and have conversations about sexual violence before it happens. Nearly 100,000 high school athletic coaches will soon have easy access to resources about sexual violence prevention. And that’s not all: NFHS has over one million members, including high school coaches, athletic directors, teachers, administrators and parents who influence millions of students. SPARK is thrilled to work with NFHS, together with the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, Futures Without Violence, Mentors in Violence Prevention, California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, National Sexual Violence Resource Center, and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.
“We are pleased to work with SPARK Movement and their partners throughout the United States to provide resources in sexual violence prevention to the millions of coaches, athletic directors, school administrators and parents who are involved in interscholastic sports in America,” Tim Flannery, director of Coaches’ Education at the NFHS said. “At a time when so much attention is spent covering the horrific event in Steubenville, Ohio, the NFHS is proactively working toward a solution by educating coaches about their role in supervising and protecting the students they serve through courses available on www.nfhslearn.com. The NFHS will continue to collaborate with SPARK and other national organizations by providing coaches resources and tool kits to minimize sexual violence.”
Connor and I launched our campaign knowing that sexual assaults across the country could have been–and can be–prevented with the proper educational structures in place and with educators who are willing to take a stand against sexual violence, no matter what. We knew that coaches serve as role models and mentors to athletes across the nation and play an integral role in shaping students into adults. The missing piece was harnessing coaches’ impact in a structured and organized way and helping them to rally together to make positive impacts in their communities.
To everyone who made this possible: thank you. Well-played.