Play Like a Champion Today conference challenges sports leaders to reach out to involve more children

Author: Notre Dame News

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The University of Notre Dame’s Play Like a Champion Today initiative is hosting coaches, athletics administrators and leaders from the sports world from across the country at the University Friday-Sunday (June 20-22) for a conference titled “Long-Term Athlete Development: Ethics and Excellence.”

Speakers at this year’s conference will share their latest research on how youth sports can make a difference in lives of many children, particularly with the support of understanding and caring coaches. Throughout the weekend, experts in coaching, sports medicine, psychiatry and officiating will work with youth and high school coaches and administrators on how to best develop the character of young athletes. The weekend will feature presentations and discussions on the medical challenges of overtraining, the impact of injuries on youth sports and psychological aspects of sport.

Play Like a Champion’s national outreach director, Lynn Kachmarik, said one of the organization’s goals is reaching children living in urban areas with high concentrations of poverty. “This conference brings sports leaders from around the country together to exchange best practices getting kids at the margins involved sports and physical activities. There is so much we can be doing; we just need to commit to making a difference."

This year’s speakers include keynote Brian Hainline, the chief medical officer for the NCAA; Brenda Villa, four-time Olympic water polo captain and gold and silver medalist; Brian Ratigan, team doctor for Notre Dame football and baseball; Jeff Triplette, NFL official and CEO of Arbiter Sports; and Mark McLaughlin, director of the Princeton Brain and Spine Institute.

The conference is hosted by Play Like a Champion Today, which conducts initiatives nationwide through Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education and the Institute for Educational Initiatives. The PLACT initiative offers character-based educational programs for coaches and parents to enrich the lives of student-athletes in public and faith-based elementary and secondary schools.

To learn more about the conference, visit

Contact: Gena Robinson, 574-514-3359,