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Development Zone Leadership Fellows


To celebrate PCA Founder Jim Thompson's latest book, Developing Better Athletes, Better People: A Leader's Guide to Transforming High School and Youth Sports into a Development Zone >>, PCA has launched the Development ZoneTM Leadership Fellows.

This awards program will annually honor leaders of youth sports organizations and school-based athletic programs that embody the principles espoused in Developing Better Athletes, Better People.

The eight members of our inaugural class of 2014 profiled below all are featured in the new book, sharing the wisdom that makes them leaders in using youth and high school sports to develop Better Athletes, Better People. For audio interviews of the Fellows, e-mail David Jacobson >>.

Click here to let PCA know about your candidate for the 2015 class of Development Zone Leadership Fellows >>


Doc Rivers, NBA Champion Coach, PCA National Advisory Board Member and writer of the foreword to Developing Better Athletes, Better People, excerpted here.

I became a supporter of PCA after meeting Jim Thompson. I have seen both the good and bad of youth sports. In addition to my career as a player and coach, I have been a sports parent for my four children, some of whom competed through the college level.

The difference a coach can make in a youth’s life is enormous, and PCA is showing high school and youth coaches how to be a Double-Goal Coach®, who teaches life lessons while preparing their team to win on the scoreboard. That is why I am excited about this book. Click here to read complete foreword >>.

Karl Costello, Athletic Director, Niles North High School, Skokie, IL

Among Costello's most significant achievements as the creator of a Development Zone is expanding his school's positive coaching initiative to encompass feeder schools and youth sports organizations. That way, by the time athletes and their families arrive at Niles North, they understand what is required to maintain and contribute to advancing the school's educational-athletic culture. That's not easy in light of the 90-plus languages spoken within the school district and so many families adapting to American high school sports culture.


Marmion Dambrino, Athletic Director, Houston Independent School District, Houston, TX

Dambrino (far right, clapping) is a tireless champion of the Development Zone she is creating in Houston's public schools. The focus is raising both the level of competitive performance of student-athletes and a recognition of the importance of character and sportsmanship. Ejections and other sportsmanship-related issues continue to drop drastically under her guidance.


Ken Harkenrider, Athletic Director, Canterbury School, Fort Wayne, IN

Harkenrider (near left) brings new meaning to the concept of "message bombardment" explored in Developing Better Athletes, Better People. From Honor the Game banners flying high to a gym floor emblazoned with that same PCA catch-phrase, Harkenrider makes sure to spread the message that Canterbury is a Development Zone. (Ticket stubs and popcorn bags also carry printed reminders.)

Fueling his passion for creating an environment that serves all of his student-athletes, he reminds himself that too great a focus on the 4% of high school athletes who go on to play in college means he risks dis-serving the other 96%!


Bruce Horowitz, Co-Founder, Beverly Hills Basketball League, Beverly Hills, CA

Horowitz (with PCA National Spokesperson Phil Jackson at PCA's National Youth Sports Awards Dinner) is a pioneer in using his youth sports organization as a Development Zone. BHBL is among PCA's longest-standing partners and also practices  "message bombardment." 

Honor the Game messages dot everything from t-shirts to water bottles to the 2-Minute Drills (brief reminder communiques of league values) that inspired PCA's e-mail series of the same name.

Among the league's achievements that Horowitz has spearheaded is a zero-tolerance policy for behavior that violates the league's commitment to Honor the Game. That stance even led to the departure of a board member. As painful as that may have been, says Horowitz, leaders must enforce the rules if they are to maintain a Development Zone.


Jeff Johnson, Athletic Director, Dallas Independent School District, Dallas, TX

Johnson oversees a sprawling Development Zone of 22 high schools and 32 middle schools. Anywhere from 50-100 student- athletes at each campus have taken PCA's Triple-Impact Competitor® workshop, more than 900 coaches are Double-Goal Coach® certified.

Honor the Game messages are widely displayed and read aloud over PA systems at Dallas ISD competitions. The common vocabulary this has introduced helps student-athletes cross boundaries between their schools, and Johnson says, has athletes on rival campuses "happy for each others' successes."


Robert Lewis, Jr., Founder, Boston Astros and THE BASE, Boston, MA

Robert Lewis, Jr. (center, holding court among his organization's coaches) for more than three decades has served youth in some of Boston's roughest neighborhoods. His Boston Astros baseball program regularly puts disadvantaged youth on a path to college and critical contributing roles in the community.

His recent launch of THE BASE promises to expand the reach of his work and provide a physical space for his Development Zone. His vision is nothing less than using sports to "shift the paradigm of urban America."


Bob McFarlane, Owner, Bald Eagle Sports Camps, Los Altos, CA

McFarlane centers his entire sports camp on PCA philosophy. While there is no shortage of preparation for his campers to compete, he also makes sure all counselors are Double-Goal Coach certified, and every day, all campers receive Triple-Impact Competitor messaging.

Weekly honors for campers who Honor the Game are among the elements that reinforce McFarlane's Development Zone. Others include message bombardment on the website and via banners in camp venues. He gives parents copies of Jim Thompson's The Second-Goal Parent and says they often thank him after reading it!