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Inaugural Leadership Summit Empowers Coaches for Sporting Success

Boise State University, MAL (Masters of Athletic Leadership) Program Conference 2023, Chris Peterson (Coach Pete) Keynote Speech, Photo by Tyler McFarland

The first-ever Boise State University Sport Leadership Summit took place at the Alumni and Friends Building on June 17, 2023. The event gathered more than 50 coaches from the Treasure Valley and across Idaho, convening for a one-day session dedicated to enhancing the growth of coaches and administrative leaders within the sports domain.

The conference, co-sponsored by the Master of Athletic Leadership program and the Center for Physical Activity and Sport, was the culmination of an idea between Scott Moorcroft, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and director of the Master of Athletic Leadership program, and Eric Martin, associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology and director of the Center for Physical Activity and Sport. They wanted to bring together individuals interested in supporting holistic student-athlete development.

“We were excited to bring a developmental opportunity to the Treasure Valley and the state of Idaho as a whole,” Martin said. “As the Kinesiology Department aims to align with the university’s Blueprint for Success, the conference aimed to foster a thriving community in the sport landscape and improve the educational opportunities for coaches and sport leaders across the state.”

The conference culminated in a presentation by former Boise State University and University of Washington head football coach Chris Petersen. Petersen spoke about lessons learned from his time in coaching with a focus on holistic development of players, the importance of developing relationships, and the critical nature of establishing a culture of championship aspirations.

Attendees voiced the excitement for a development opportunity around leadership in the sport landscape, especially in the current shifting environment with recent developments such as the name, image, and likeness and new rules for the transfer portal for collegiate athletes, and the increased pressure felt by coaches from parents and other community members at the high school level.

One athletic director said “I have been an athletic director for 26 years. This was one of the most beneficial conferences I have attended. I will be taking back many things to try and transfer into my school.”

In discussing the benefit of the conference, a leader at a non-profit said “generational differences are forcing organizational change and this summit hit on key aspects that are influencing and creating these changes.”

In addition to Coach Petersen’s keynote, attendees attended a variety of workshops and panel discussions that included:

  • A panel discussion with current high school and collegiate athletes on the purpose of sport and ways to shape the sport environment to focus on global health and wellness.
  • A workshop entitled “Leading the Next Generation” with Dan Gould, Gwendolyn Norrell Professor Emeritus at Michigan State University, recent inductee into the International Society for Sports Psychology Hall of Fame, focusing on how athletic leaders can best work with the current generation of student-athletes and workers.
  • A workshop entitled “Resilience Redefined: Building Flourishing Environments for Growth” led by Martin, focusing on creating an environment that would encourage resilience promoting environments with a specific focus on creating psychological safety and a challenge/support balance.
  • Panel discussions with women leaders in sport about common challenges for women in leadership positions in sport and a senior level administrator panel focused on leading an organization during a constantly changing environment and utilizing the leadership position to develop future leaders.

Both Moorcroft and Martin are excited for future opportunities to connect with coaches and other leaders in the athletic field and provide programming to support coaches, athletic directors, and other leaders as they experience challenges in their professional lives.

The next conference is planned for this summer on Saturday, June 8 with presentations led by Dolores Christensen, director of psychological resources for Oklahoma Athletics student-athletes in the University of Oklahoma Athletics Department, and Scott Pierce, associate professor for Illinois State University and an expert in using sport as a vehicle to develop life skills and transfer to other domains.

Reach out to Moorcroft ( or Martin ( if you have questions or are interested in attending.