Mental and emotional well-being of South Florida youth in focus with return of Great Minds-Great Athletes Program in 2021-22, as Miami Marlins team up with Positive Coaching Alliance and Miami-Dade County Public Schools

The three organizations, with the support of Bally Sports Florida, team up for second year to highlight the importance of mental wellness

November 4th, 2021

MIAMI – The Great Minds – Great Athletes Program, a first of its kind in South Florida, uniting three organizations focused on the development of the community’s youth, returns for the 2021-22 academic year. Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA), Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), and the Miami Marlins continue their partnership, alongside additional support from Bally Sports Florida, with the purpose of providing a comprehensive plan to support positive youth development for M-DCPS student-athletes. Following a successful inaugural year, the program will see an increase from 18 to 27 participating schools.

During the first year of this partnership, the Great Minds – Great Athletes Program reached over 1,800 student-athletes through 125 live and online PCA workshops taking place at nine high schools, and nine middle schools. The intent of the partnership, with the fourth largest school district in the country and one of the top-performing urban districts in the nation, is to expand programming in subsequent years to impact all M-DCPS student-athletes for sustainable, lasting culture change in regard to mental and emotional wellness. Successful program implementation includes targeted education and curriculum, focused implementation, ongoing stewardship and follow-up, coach assessments, workbooks, online courses, account support, awards programs, and a wide range of other resources. This work is possible thanks to the collaboration of the Miami Marlins Foundation and M-DCPS, and support from Bally Sports Florida.

The innovative program provides support for student-athletes as well as their parents, coaches, and school administration, augmenting the strong work in mental health by the M-DCPS Mental Health Services Department. PCA’s systematic and structured character development framework, with its emphasis on positive youth development and social-emotional learning education, will help shape a positive athletics culture with the intent of promoting the mental wellness of M-DCPS student-athletes.

A testimonial provided by a local seventh grader, Bruce, reads, “The Great Minds – Great Athletes Program taught me how to fill up my emotional tank and to keep going even when I did something wrong… and to always keep my head up when times are tough.”

PCA’s live workshops are led by PCA Certified Trainers, who complete an intensive certification process to be trained in PCA’s principles and practices. Participants explore why and how to pursue both winning and the more important goal of teaching life lessons through sports. Coaches and parents are educated on positive youth development which promotes both athletic performance and athlete SEL skills. In addition to advice from pro coaches and players, PCA workshop content includes research-based insights from experts in coaching, education and sports psychology, hands-on training in field-tested practical, proven tips and tools that coaches can implement simply that yield profound results, and application of PCA tools and principles through specific scenarios to address common challenges in youth sports.