September 19, 2011
RICHMOND, Va.–The Center for Sport Leadership was treated to an international perspective on the power of sports when Gill Taylor, National Manager for the Macsteel Maestros at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SA), came to visit and share her experiences with the students. Taylor works with South African youth athletes and SA national sports teams on both practical and intangible life skills training.
Taylor was a school teacher and field hockey coach before finding her niche in life skills training after working as the African Hockey Coaching Ambassador. She created and implemented the life skills training program as a missing component to the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, emphasizing the importance of life skills to athletes who will be playing internationally. These lessons include practical lessons, such as restaurant etiquette and computer technology, as well as intangible life skills including team work and conflict resolution. As a result, she has been able to help many South African athletes have successful sport experiences.
Taylor was a fascinating woman who has accomplished many things including adjusting to a changing sport environment post-apartheid. Though it is difficult for most CSL students to relate to that experience, she offered many concrete examples of the stark differences that she faces on a daily basis when working with athletes. She additionally shared her struggles and successes in working with Olympic athletes and conducing life skills training for over 840 premier level soccer players in South Africa as the country prepared to host the 2010 World Cup.
When asked what her advice to future sport managers would be, Taylor emphasized the importance of getting outside of one’s comfort zone and using one’s passion to create a niche in the world. She also wanted the students to remember “We are what we choose to be, not what made us to be,” something she reminds her athletes of constantly.
For more information about the life skills program, please visit www.macsteelmaestros.co.za. To read more about the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, please visit www.ssisa.com.
By: Devon Howard, CSL Class of 2012