CSALT serves athletes

Rachel Yokota, Staff Writer

Getting the ball rolling is no easy feat when COVID-19 halted all athletic operations last year, but with sports back in full swing, Northwood’s Challenge Success Athletics Leadership Team never misses when helping guide Northwood athletics in supporting their student athletes and their well-being.

CSALT was formed five years ago as a part of Northwood’s collaboration with the Stanford University Graduate School of Education Challenge Success program. 

Challenge Success was founded when 16 years of research concluded that students’ personal relationships with success were damaging their mental health, and now partners with schools to break through this mentality. CSALT is an offshoot of this program, and focuses on furthering students through their high school athletic careers with their board of administrators, coaches, teachers, parents and student-athletes.

“Skills and healthy habits will be purposefully incorporated into athletics to ensure students are exposed to methods that will help them maintain this balance,” Challenge Success co-chair Christina Banagas-Engelerdt said.

In an effort to ensure CSALT continues to uphold athletes’ well-being, new members of the board must be first nominated by a Northwood head coach and then personally selected by the Northwood athletics administration. Choices are made based on a candidate’s willingness to challenge the status quo and voice their opinions. These qualifications have been met by 25 student-athletes this year, resulting in the most students CSALT has ever had on their board.

CSALT’s board has designated their main goal for this year to be rebuilding the foundations of Northwood athletics and community to what it was prior to the pandemic. To accomplish this, CSALT holds multiple meetings throughout each season with the three main stakeholders of Northwood athletics: coaches, parents and student-athletes. CSALT co-chairs and Athletic Directors Brandon Emery and Sierra Wang head most meetings, in which stakeholders review the Core Expectations CSALT has established for them and provide feedback on the current state of the community. 

“I attended one of those athlete meetings a while ago and was really happy with the way CSALT is handling things,” varsity swimmer sophomore Genevieve Chomin said. “There’s always room for improvement and I’m glad that Northwood is trying to take that into account, especially with how the pandemic has affected everyone’s mental health.”

While COVID-19 did prevent CSALT from gathering last year, in previous years, CSALT has hosted two annual summits for student-athletes, including guest speakers such as former UCLA softball national champion Marti Reed, to speak on mental health. Summits like these are meant to offer advice to student-athletes from someone who has experienced aspects of the field yet unkown to students. Students are able to learn from someone who has both a differnet perspective than those within the Northwood community and insight into overcoming obstacles unique to student-athletes.

CSALT also has updated Northwood’s previous athletic Collective Purpose Statement to incorporate Northwood’s recent endeavors to support student welfare and has revised hiring paperwork for all coaches. They are currently working on other ways to support student-atheletes. 

“We are extremely proud of what the group has created in the past and look forward to seeing what the group produces this year and in years to come,” Emery said.