Players Box program helping area young athletes, parents handle pressure of the game

Children are feeling pressure from every direction, said the creator of a local program aimed at helping students cope with the stress of athletics, academics, and other extracurriculars, like the performing arts.

“Pressure comes from parents, teachers, coaches, friends, and social media. We know this external pressure creates enormous internal pressure that kids put on themselves,” said Charlie McMahan, lead pastor of SouthBrook Church and creator of Players Box.

From athletics to sports and after-school events, children in elementary school through teens in high school feel the weight of the expectations that they need to do well.

McMahan created Players Box to help give students the tools to navigate those pressures. Players Box does so with the help of trained coaches and volunteers who talk about the pressures that come with those activities.

“We’re trying to help them to grow mentally,” said Scott Griswold, one of the Players Box coaches. Griswold also referees different sports in the community, such as football and basketball, and umpires baseball.

Griswold and other volunteers for the program hear from parents following their children participating in Players Box, who say it helped them be resilient in different situations.

“I’ve seen a lot of these kids grow,” Griswold said.

The program, which started about seven years ago, includes six weeks with one session a week, said Krista Horsmon, director of Players Box. The programs they run at SouthBrook Christian Church in Miamisburg are also open to all children in the region between second grade and seniors in high school.

“We’ve also worked with a lot of schools and athletic teams,” said Horsmon.

Children learn different lessons each session before breaking out into different age groups.

“Really it’s a time of community and getting them to talk,” Horsmon said.

The program is not only focused on the students but also teaches parents how to advocate for their children.

“Have you ever sat in the stands at a high school athletic event and heard parents yelling horrible things at their children, coaches, or referees? We want to help parents understand that being positive role models for their children will significantly impact their children’s ability to manage the pressures they face,” said McMahan.

Students in Players Box learn about their personality type and how that affects their reaction to pressure and their ability to receive information.

Nora Dantzler, 10, who is a student at Dennis Elementary School in Springboro, said her uncle got her interested in the program.

“My favorite part of Players Box is learning more about myself and how to handle pressure, because I play basketball,” Nora said.

Students also learn to discover what drives them and how their image of themselves matters.

“If we can equip students with the tools and skills to manage the pressure they are experiencing now, those skills will help them cope with pressure for the rest of their lives,” McMahan said.

Players Box is built around four performance principles they explain in the acronym P.L.A.Y., which includes:

  • P for personality type, which affects pressure. How does the performer relate to pressure?
  • L for learning style, which impacts practice. How does the performer process information?
  • A for ability level, which affect purpose. Why is the performer participating in a particular art/sport/subject?
  • Y that stands for the “yes” factor, which is about being positive. What is the performer’s attitude toward self?

“We just want kids to play again,” Horsmon said.

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Players Box curriculum is offered at SouthBrook Church, but it has also become embedded in these local programs:

  • Centerville Character Day (all freshmen students)
  • Centerville boys basketball program
  • Springboro volleyball and girls basketball programs
  • Springboro boys golf
  • Hope Squad Conference
  • Athletes in Action, basketball and football
  • Valley View Student Training Day
  • Valley View Teacher In-service
  • Miamisburg Teacher In-service
  • Bellbrook Junior National Honor Society
  • Kettering-Fairmont volleyball
  • Dayton Christian boys basketball
  • Cedarville college basketball
  • Ohio Premier Volleyball Club
  • Players Box live basketball training throughout the year

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