Play Like a Champion Today symposium to address ethics, abuse prevention

Author: William Schmitt

Play Like a Champion Today

The University of Notre Dame’s Play Like a Champion Today (PLACT) coach education program will host a symposium to help athletics administrators plan responsibly to ensure every child’s full protection from the tragedy of abuse.

A one-day symposium titled Championing Children through Collegiate Sport Camps will provide valuable information and tools to members of college athletic departments on April 26 (Friday) on the Notre Dame campus.

“In the aftermath of the NCAA’s Freeh Report and the tragic events at Penn State, it is timely to promote a new era of ethical awareness and responsibility in college athletics,” said Kristin Sheehan, co-director of the nationally recognized PLACT program. “One arena of critical importance is for athletic departments to ensure that their summer sports camps are safe as well as fun.”

“Camp coach counselors must be well prepared to protect the children entrusted to them,” said Clark Power, a Notre Dame psychology professor and founding co-director of PLACT. “Based on years of experience and extensive research, this symposium will help coaches understand what they need to do to respect all participants and create the most nurturing sport environment possible.”

The program directed by Sheehan and Power, part of Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives, has provided character education clinics for coaches and parents since 2006, covering more than 30 American and Canadian cities. Sport-specific abuse awareness training has been a part of these clinics from their inception.

This symposium, for which registration is requested by April 19 (Friday), will feature presentations by experts from the legal profession, social work, developmental psychology and coaching education to explore the moral, legal and psychological issues related to abuse in sports. Speakers will include Sheehan and Power, along with Jill Bodensteiner, Notre Dame associate athletic director for compliance, and Mark Wilson, former director of camps and clinics for The Ohio State University Department of Athletics.

Registrants from college and university athletic departments will take away these benefits from the daylong event:

  • They will be prepared to present a one-hour clinic to summer camp coach counselors regarding the urgent moral and legal issues of abuse awareness and protection for children.
  • They will address the ethical principles and best practices that should inform coach counselors’ interactions with all athletes, including what constitutes abuse, the signs of abuse and when and how to report suspected abuse.
  • A presentation and instructional materials will help participants to efficiently implement a transparent, effective system for managing child welfare on their own campuses for summer sports camps.

Registration is available online. For information on participants’ eligibility for scholarship assistance, email