As athletic directors, we are used to monitoring others’ well being. We needed to take a leadership role in promoting overall health at our schools and with each other.
(PRWEB) February 10, 2016
It’s that time of year when most people have forgotten all about their New Year’s Resolutions. Traci Davis, the new president of the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland (IAAM), Hall of Fame athlete and Garrison Forest School athletic director since 2005, knows all too well how quickly fitness goals are cast aside.
That’s why one of her first decisions when her IAAM two-year presidency began last July was to slap a Garmin Vivofit activity tracker on the wrists of the 31 IAAM athletic directors. “I’m acutely aware of how important it is that we model fitness and wellness for our student-athletes and coaches,” says Davis. “As athletic directors, we are used to monitoring others’ well being. We needed to take a leadership role in promoting overall health at our schools and with each other.”
Since early October, when the athletic directors of IAAM member schools (independent and parochial schools in the greater Baltimore region) put on the Vivofits to track their steps and activity level, each director has averaged 10,000 steps a week. Davis, who has worn one for a year as part of a Garrison Forest employee wellness program, is hardly surprised. “We put in long hours with coaches and teams, and most of us coach a sport as well,” says Davis, who coaches the GFS field hockey team. “I take the steps now and walk to another building to talk to a colleague, rather than emailing or calling, she notes. “I’m moving more, and it’s had a dramatic impact on my overall fitness level. One IAAM colleague has even opted out of using a gator and now walks to events on campus.” The Vivofit monitors activity such as steps, calories burned, distance and sleep and syncs to a smartphone or laptop. Charm City Run, which partnered with Garrison Forest to provide the bands to faculty and staff at a discount, provided the IAAM with the fitness trackers.
Davis, a member of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, Greater Baltimore Chapter of the Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame (for her All-American career in field hockey and lacrosse at Ursinus College) and former U.S. Women’s Lacrosse team member, is a serious mountain biker. Her IAAM colleagues are equally passionate former athletes, which means there is bound to be competition among a couple dozen or so athletic directors. The group has created individual monthly competitions from highest number of steps in a day to the number of days over 10,000 steps.
She and the IAAM athletic directors hope their actions will have a lasting impact on their student-athletes and coaches. “Having wellness as a centerpiece for the adults in the IAAM has obvious benefits for the hundreds of student-athletes in the IAAM,” says Davis. “Our players today are navigating an athletics arena that didn’t exist when I and many of the athletic directors played high school sports. Today’s environment can put a great deal of pressure on a player to concentrate on a single sport, focus on college recruitment and play on one’s high school and club team. The IAAM is among the most competitive leagues in the country, and our student-athletes are top-notch. We want to stay ahead of the curve on our own health and wellness and model this for all of the student-athletes. It’s not just about athletics. It’s about a way of life, a healthier life.”