Introduced in the fall of 2022, McDonogh’s Athletic Leadership Academy is a distinctive program designed to nurture leadership skills for both athletics and life. Developed after a year of research and guided by Jeff Janssen, a renowned expert in sports leadership, this unique program focuses on building character and empowering student-athletes to emerge as influential leaders at McDonogh and beyond.
“The premise of the program is to become a credible leader that people will trust and follow,” says Program Director Scott Ward.
The curriculum, centered around the four Cs—Commitment, Confidence, Composure, and Character—offers a transformative journey. Participants engage in workshops, assignments, check-in meetings, and activities emphasizing responsibility and accountability. As the program advances, it delves into effective team leadership, fostering a championship culture, and instilling the significance of holding teammates accountable.
While not all participants become team captains, the acquired skills extend beyond sports to impact various aspects of life. Ward notes that in sports and professional careers, many outstanding leaders effectively “lead from the bench.” Ava McKinney ’24 attests to the program's effectiveness, stating, "It’s a great program. It gets you ready to be on a team and to be a team player."
McDonogh’s student-athletes are eligible to apply for the Leadership Academy the summer before their sophomore or junior year. Space in limited to a maximum of 40 participants to ensure an impactful experience.
In its inaugural year, McDonogh’s Athletic Academy celebrated the graduation of 37 student-athletes, with an impressive 15 earning honors for surpassing standard course requirements.