How Sam has been inspired to set up The True Athlete Project and continues to make a difference in and through Sport. A genuine journey of discovery and increased self-awareness has fuelled his passion.
This is a fantastic insight from his early experiences of Tennis through travelling the world and navigating and making sense of his experiences.
Sam is the founder and CEO of The True Athlete Project, a US and UK based nonprofit which aims to build a more compassionate world through sport. His team design and deliver a range of mindfulness and creative practices for athletes of all levels - from primary school children to Olympians and Paralympians. Originally from Norfolk, England, Sam moved to Tennessee to play division one college tennis. Since then, he has explored the power of sport through his role as a coach, mentor, athletic director, researcher and university tutor. He has delivered mindfulness to Olympians and Paralympians in more than 25 different sports, to sub-saharan African young leaders through the Mastercard Scholars Program, and to primary school children in Scotland.
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Success quotes or sayings:
Dad was coach and he steered away from the sport politics.
Concept of ‘time slowing down’
The power of sport - can be both harmful and not harmful
In and out of sport due to surgery.
The paradox of sport – the highs and lows
Explore sport through many different lenses.
Convergence of many different components – wellbeing, psych, meditation etc…
What it means to be a young sportsperson: Introduction and exploration of mindfulness, Parkour, sport for peace, sports poetry.
Studying heroes like Mohammed Ali
The curriculum then got picked up by the Mohammed Ali centre in Louisville, Kentucky
The Tue Athlete Project was born from this work and curriculum
One of the lows – coming out from A&E
The importance of being open when meeting people to build relationships quickly
Creating conscious and intentional strategies to manage
Culture of sport in the US – very heavy!
Shift – not needing to live to the expectations of the sport
Playing with the tension of a narrow focus versus a broader sport focus. What is right?
Individual v team sport approach. Is tennis a team sport? The difference in England v the USA.
Have reflected on the transition from Tennis stepping into the world of work. I have worked hard.
As a business leader knowing when to leave people the time and space to flourish. I continue to work on.
Innovate and experiment and not worry about the result immediately – don’t worry if there is a bad day (process v outcome!)
Sustaining to work on a project where you are having an impact
Being a ‘CEO athlete’. Creating a team around you and leveraging resources
Wish I had know all this stuff at 14 and not now finding out and practising at 30 yrs..!
Using your own journey as a real catalyst
A letter I had written to my old head teacher – imagining how good I could become.
Links to Andre Agassi foundation
Underground hero – use the ordinary opportunity to make a difference to the world.
Themes of me becoming conscious about how things were in the world
TAP – an intentional way – allowing sport to unleash its power and its positive potential
3 things – making a difference, entrepreneurship, intentional/purposeful
Not accepting the status quo and the treadmill of life.
Recognising how special the moment of the day is.
Multiple Sclerosis charity – I was doing something to try help and make a difference
Its quite difficult to ‘see’ all the time
From my experiences seeing the harm of what is getting in the way
Sport for social change - bursting with ideas and energy
The importance of embodying change FIRST rather than just using a mega phone to force other people to make a difference
The butterfly – representative of transformation of self first in order to impact on the world
The True Athlete Project strands: Performance - wellbeing - social change
Global Mentoring Programme – 5 different topics/themes. 68 people/10 sports
TAP - Coach development workshops; Athlete classes; Retreats; Work with NGB
Compassion based approach to sport
Vision for TAP – confident in the difference we make. The feedback is so sustaining. Making a positive impact at every stage. Bring it to more people!
The power of the principles and practices ‘rippling out’ and impacting an even wider population
Primitive or simple and clear.
Climate justice efforts
TAP - Uplifting and sustaining project to be part of
Making and finding tie with wise people
Write to people and ask them questions – people like to be asked about things they are passionate about
I listen to debates – Jordan Peterson v Sam Harris was great!
Being completely with what is happening in the moment
Mindfulness classes have a very quick effect – especially as we are so saturated at the moment with advice.
The importance of slowing down and practicing this!
Don’t judge a book buy its cover
Quick fire questions:
The books that you would recommend are?
Ted Talks and debates
How do I prepare to be the best version of myself…
Need a lot of my own time
In one sentence – What advice would you give to your teenage version of yourself?
Be less annoyed with the people that were not changing things
Whos’ Sport Story would you be really interested in hearing?
Mentees on the True Athlete Project
Coaching questions I would like to pose:
Mindfulness – what do you need to do to slow yourself down and be mindful of yourself to aid you in whatever you do.
How can you be forgiving of your self (without giving yourself a free pass and making excuses). Especially of things that may not have worked out or currently do not work.
How much do you know about your mother or fathers storey and how it impacts on you.