August 10, 2023

Contact: Geoff Kimmerly
517.332.5046 or [email protected]

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Aug. 10 – Leadership always has been one of the most valuable and applicable life skills developed by student-athletes participating in educational athletics. To assist in that development, the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) and National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) have partnered to produce an online Student Leadership series designed to provide the latest research-based instruction to high schoolers throughout the United States.

The Student Leadership series is provided as part of the web-based NFHS Learning Center ( and includes two free courses focused on students – “Becoming a Leader” and “Leading Others” – with a third installment for coaches currently in production. All three are inspired by the latest research on how youth-aged athletes learn to lead.

This latest work builds on the MHSAA-produced “Captains Course” developed in 2015 with Michigan State University’s Institute for the Study of Youth Sports (ISYS). The “Captains Course” has been taken more than 100,000 times and is based on in-person “Captains Clinics” that MHSAA staff and ISYS conduct with thousands of students across Michigan each year.

Each student-focused segment of the new Student Leadership series takes 30-45 minutes to complete and includes frequent and quick activities designed to help students understand how they would apply leadership skills in real-life scenarios. Course instruction was created primarily in coordination with the MHSAA by a pair of nationally-recognized authorities on the subject: Jed Blanton, an assistant professor in kinesiology, recreation and sport studies at the University of Tennessee; and Scott Pierce, an associate professor in kinesiology and recreation at Illinois State University.

Both Blanton and Pierce have vast experience with youth athletics; both also formerly worked for the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports and served as graduate assistants at the MHSAA during their time at MSU, playing large roles in more than a decade of research conducted through coordination with the MHSAA’s 16-member Student Advisory Council. High school administrators, student leaders, and other researchers and mental performance consultants also contributed to the lessons taught in these courses. The NFHS produced the content, including all of the visuals and digital features, and the student-focused courses went live on the NFHS Learn website in mid-summer.

“We’ve taken a good program, and made it even better,” said MHSAA Assistant Director Andy Frushour, who coordinates the Association’s student services programs. “This is a program we do in person in Michigan, but our reach now is across the country – and these courses are free, hopefully allowing us to contribute to the development of even more student leaders.”

The “Becoming a Leader” course defines leadership styles and builds skills to help students consider themselves as leaders. “Leading Others” details how leaders put those skills into practice including during challenging situations. Blanton and Pierce worked closely with student advisory groups from various states to make the research content relatable to school sports participants. All voices heard in the courses belong to high school students – including athletes from Michigan, Illinois and Washington who provided 30 testimonials that describe leadership in action.

The “Coaches Course” will provide the same information as presented to high school students, but in a way that explains how coaches can use these tools to personalize leadership training among their athletes as they seek to recognize which types of leaders they have on a team, and which types are missing and need to be developed.

“The NFHS is grateful for the opportunity to work with the MHSAA as well as Dr. Blanton and Dr. Pierce,” said Dan Schuster, the NFHS’ director of educational services. “We believe these student leadership courses will provide valuable information across the country and will contribute to the improvement of the interscholastic experience for young people.”

To learn more about the series, go online to and view the course listings. Video previews provide additional information on both Student Leadership courses. (The direct link to “Becoming a Leader" is, and the direct link to “Leading Others” is

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.3 million spectators each year. 

The NFHS, based in Indianapolis, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts activities. Since 1920, the NFHS has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and performing arts activities that help students succeed in their lives. The NFHS writes playing rules for 17 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. Through its 50 member state associations and the District of Columbia, the NFHS reaches more than 19,500 high schools and 12 million participants in high school activity programs, including more than 7.6 million in high school sports.